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39th Annual Swim around Key West

You may have seen our Facebook or Twitter posts about our professional triathlete Morgan Chaffin's recent succss with the 39th 

Annual Swim around Key West - 2nd Place!!!  Here are some fun details about her experience:

I never would have imagined taking on the challenge of swimming 12.5 miles. Previously I had looked at doing a 10k open water swim and my friend said, “Why don’t you go for something longer? Swim around Key West!” I looked at the website a few times and read a couple of blog posts written by former people who have completed the swim. The ocean: jaws (Duuun dun duuun dun dun dun), waves, jelly fish, string rays, salt… you name it, I read it! I asked my coach his thoughts. Ok! I was in! The morning the registration opened I was signed up. Training for the swim was like training for any other endurance event. I spent a significant time at the pool. Viewing the black lane for hours every day was a part of my daily routine. I only got in two open water swims before leaving for Florida.

Training in Nebraska is not ideal for an ocean swim in June, but it is manageable. You can build great swim fitness in the pool that will transfer to open water swimming. My peak yardage was 55,000 meters/34 miles in 1 week. I did countless 10k swims, several 15 and 17k swims, a couple 20k swims, and ended with a 13 mile swim. 

Before I started training I had met with Jeff at Specialized Physical Therapy and he ran over some shoulder flexibility and strengthening exercises with me. I did these religiously. Through the course of training my shoulders always felt good. Sure, they would be sore, but I was never in pain. I did develop some wrist tendonitis. In the first open water swim I did I wore my watch extremely tight. The water was too cold for me to feel anything and by the time I was done my wrist was swollen. The next day I could feel the crepitus: rubber band type feeling and swelling just above my wrist joint with every movement. 

Luckily with a few treatments and some iontopatches it was gone. Thank you SPT!

(Note to self and others: Don’t wear your watch too tight!)

My travel plans up to the race went very smoothly. I was very glad to have my mother there along with me. Leading up to race day I got in two practice swims on the course. It was exciting to be in the ocean. I’ve always enjoyed seeing marine life. It’s an entirely different world! I got to view the swim course the day before my race with John, who supported me through the entire race. He helped guide me through the water and was in charge of giving me food, fluids, and salt tablets during the race. I was not able to stand or touch the kayak throughout the race. He used a rope to throw my nutrition out to me. It worked well, but sometimes we opted for a quick hand off. I felt great at the start of the race. I could see the sandy bottom the entire time expect for when going through the Cow Channel. It was quite a bit deeper there. I believe they said 40+ feet. At the 10k mark I asked John how I was doing and he said, “2:13!” Wow, that was crazy; I had never swum that fast in my life. I didn’t feel taxed or that I started the race too hard. With roughly 4 miles to go the water gets very swallow. At times I could nearly reach down and touch the life below me. I really slowed in the shallow waters. It felt like I was, “swimming in mud.” With 2 miles until the finish the repetition of the freestyle swim motion was impacting my shoulders. I tried backstroke, breaststroke, and kicking harder, but fatigue had set in. I was thrilled when I could see the finish line on the shore of Smathers Beach. I was happy to finish in second place! I couldn’t lift my arms for the next couple of days without assisting the movement with my opposing arm. That told me that I had given everything I had! I plan to go back next year. My training will be structured very similar to this year, my nutrition plan will remain the same, but there are a few things I learned about this swim and positioning that will change. John, my support, said he is in for next year! We are going to go for the W! 

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