2013 Fundraiser

Emily von Jentzen is an Ultra Marathon Swimmer who completes lengthy endurance swims to raise money for children with special medical conditions.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Falling short

Hi....sorry it took me a few days to post.  It sometimes takes me a little while to organize my thoughts.

My Canyon Ferry swim began at approximately 3:45 on Sunday August 18th.  We had a bit of delay due to a beautiful lightening storm that was quite the "send off" (some of my crew thought it was like fireworks celebrating the swim).  It took about 45 minutes to get situated with the boat in a good position/speed so that I could spot off the dim lights on the side of the boat and the boat could use the brighter lights out front to scan the shoreline.  The water temp was comfortable as was the air temp.

When the sun came up the swimming got a whole lot easier.  I felt awesome from sun up to the first crew change.  There were helicopters doing training exercises filling up large "buckets" with water for dumping on fires.  One of the "fill ups" was within about 100 feet in front of our path...it was so cool to see-although my USA swim official on this crew said if I got picked up in the bucket I would be disqualified.  :)  There were also several wildlife sightings that were super cool.  Several pelicans that swam over, many large jumping fish and a little deer on the side of the lake.

The second crew that came on around 9:30 consisted of the "injured" crew.  Miss Savannah has a broken arm (mountain biking accident the night before she was traveling to Helena) and my niece Hannah has a boot on her leg.  Despite their injuries, they were a great crew.  I was really happy with how I was feeling between hours 10 and 12.  I started having some trouble thinking about the swim length as a whole and had to keep bringing my mind back to smaller increments (one more mile).

At the next crew change around 3:30 I was still feeling pretty great.  This was probably somewhat ironic, but many of those who had been with me on Lake Chelan continued to note how much better conditions were on Canyon Ferry in comparison.

By around 6:30 the waves started to pick up...and they just got worse and worse.  Then the sun went down.  I had to fight pretty hard to make progress in the waves. A crew change at 9:30 pm brought fresh faces out to the boat, and I had a cry down due to the exhaustion of the waves.  By midnight the waves were smaller, but still there and this was when the colder wind started effecting me.

I didn't know this at the time, but the boat was having trouble steering-which complicated the wind and wave problems.  The boat was having trouble staying in front of me, which made it hard for me to swim fast enough to stay warm (if I got too far in front of the boat I had nothing to sight off of).

The water temperature wasn't really too cold, but the wind was extremely cold, so every time my arms left the water I got chilled.  I tried switching to breaststroke, but couldn't get a fast enough turnover to keep warm.  I kept trying to calculate how long I had to hold out before the air would start to warm up. Nearing the 24 hour mark, after I had stopped swimming and was treading water for near 10 minutes (in tears)-I agreed that it was best that I get in the boat.

This was an incredibly hard decision for me.  I felt disappointed in myself.  I felt I had let other people down.  I felt I had wasted the time of my crew and supporters.  I was so upset that I threw up several times.  However, I think that listening to my body and ending the swim when I believed continuing might endanger my health, is a sign of a mature athlete.  I received medical attention once on shore.  Dan the paramedic gave me an IV.  Despite the fact that I was VERY cold, several people who felt my forehead thought I had a fever.

The mileage totals appear to have been approximately 34 miles (so about half of what I had hoped to accomplish).  The whole swim I had held an incredible consistent 2 miles an hour with a stroke count that varied only 2 strokes the whole swim.  Although I think the decision to exit the water was the right one, I am disappointed the weather conditions prevented me from finishing this swim.

I am trying really hard to pull the positives from this experience.  We had MUCH better preparation and planning for this swim.  The process for medical support worked like clock work and once I was pulled from the water I was quickly brought to shore.  My body held up well and I used minimal pain medication during the swim (as well as after).  Chafing was minimal.  And here 4 days post swim, my muscles are feeling pretty good and with the exception of taking many naps throughout the day, my recovery here seems to be going much quicker than my previous swims.

I think my training worked.  I feel my shoulders were in good shape and could have held up for 12-18 more hours.    I feel my nutrition worked, my energy levels were good and I only got sick of eating a few different options. I had an excellent support crew both on shore and on support boats.

This swim still was the first length wise crossing of Canyon Ferry Lake (I made it all the way down the lake and part way back up).  This being my first non-wetsuit swim, 24 hours is still an incredible accomplishment.  My prior two swims (18.5 hours and 36 hours) were both wetsuit swims.  I think I can build on this experience.  And we have raised approximately $8,000 for Carter (we are hoping to get all the way to $12,000 to ensure we have the funds to cover all the training needs for Carter's dog).

I appreciate all the facebook notes, emails, text messages and phone calls.  I have yet to decide what the future will hold for my swims.  There is a chance I could come back to Canyon Ferry again, or I could select a different lake to attempt the record again.  I'd like to review all the information from this swim and make that determination at a little later date, after I have recovered.

So please continue to donate to Carter's Cause so we can raise the additional $4,000 we need to cover the costs to train Minnie.

Thanks for reading!  Will post photos shortly!


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