Which 10DL will be the hardest?


I’ve always thought that Antarctica will be the most physically difficult expedition of all our 7 10DL expeditions. Until now I never had a structured way of thinking about how to measure “difficulty”. From a energy expenditure perspective, Antarctica will be the hardest. Here’s how I performed my calculations. 

1. The first step is to breakdown the activities of 10DL. The 10 Degrees Latitude is an expedition series that consists of 5 sports. Those being:

  • Cycling 
  • Open water swimming
  • Kite assisted skiing cross country
  • Hiking cross country
  • Kayaking

2. The second step is to assume that calorie count is a proxy for “effort”. It’s possible to make a caloric estimate for each expedition assuming the athlete is 190 pounds and that each activity consumes a predictable amount of calories per hour at high exertion. Using this method we can figure out which of the 10DL expeditions is “hardest”, by virtue of the caloric expenditure required to complete it. The source for the calorie count information is here.

3. The third and last step is to type all this into Excel. The results show that the caloric expenditure ranges from the lowest of 57,500 calories in 10DL Australia to 138,000 calories in 10DL Antarctica. It’s not surprising that Antarctica is one of the hardest, and that calorie estimate doesn’t even take into the account the cold temperature, which will consume even more calories as our bodies try to keep warm. Below is the model I used.


The mental side of the “difficulty” equation is much more difficult to measure. I don’t have a measure for that.

5 Reasons To Train in the San Francisco Bay

It’s only natural that people should ask why we love to swim in the San Francisco Bay. Swimming in the ocean sounds perilous and dirty to the unintiated. My answer to this common question is below.

5 Reasons To Train in the San Francisco Bay

  1. The Bay is clean and has less chemicals than the pool.
  2. Swimming allows me the feel the strength of my body.
  3. Time with the people at the Dolphin Club makes me a better person.
  4. Being among the ocean creatures puts me in touch with nature.
  5. The colder the water the better the sauna feels at the end.

Piloting Open Water Swimmers

pilot_boat_swimmingIn mountain climbing the unsung heroes are the sherpas/porters. In open water swimming the unsung heroes are the pilot boats.

Typically I’m a swimmer, and pilot boats protect me. Today I had the opportunity to switch roles. I piloted a swim with 25 swimmers. There were 5 other pilot boats including me.

Role of the pilot boat during an open water swim:

  • Protect swimmer from boaters and wildlife
  • Guide the swim path
  • Feed and motivate the swimmer during swims lasting more than 1 hour

What I learned. First of all I learned what a pilot boat does (see above). I also learned what a powerful affect the tidal current has on a swimmer. From the vantage point of our pilot boat Reuben and I saw several swimmers get swept by a swift tidal current. The current was faster than they were and caused them to literally swim in place. A good pilot can help a swimmers navigate currents and win the race!

Pilots from the Dolphin Club use plastic kayaks, motorized zodiacs, fiberglass paddle boards, and wooden Whitehall rowboats. The Whitehall rowboats at the Dolphin Club are pretty awesome, and most of over 100 years old. During the swim walkie-talkies are used to coordinate maneuvers. Two or more pilot boats lead the front swimmer and sweep the rear swimmer. Other pilot boats serve as course markers and guide points for the swimmers along the course.

Some stats about today’s swim.

  • 52F … water temp
  • 1:3 … ratio of swimmers to pilot boats
  • 1.5 miles … course distance
  • 1897 … year that my wooden rowboat was built
  • 3 … donuts/bagels consumed pre & post (yummy!)

And of course, photography from today.

Day 23 – Channel Day Moments

We swam the channel yesterday.  Today is a planned day to rest, recoop and reenergize. We still have 200 more miles to bike to get to Paris — which will start day after tomorrow.

Some stats about our swim:

  • Dover, UK to Calais, France
  • 14 hours 23 minutes
  • 21 miles
  • Water temp 60F
  • In terms of nutrition… We each fed once every 30 minutes in the water on GU Roctane and GU20 using the Gu-Bot bottle. The bottle held 2 GU packets in a separate chamber from the warmed GU hydration. We ate 2 packets and 12 ounces of warm water during each feeding.
  • Seas were pretty rough at times
  • Our pilot on channel day was David Whyte. Seriously folks, he’s the best in the business and has piloted over 350 successful channel swims. 350!!! His support was phenomenal. His thoughts we only on the swimmers — and his hand-picked crew helped our crew huge. His boat is one of the largest in the fleet. I remember late during the swim when he turned around and shouted encouragement to me in the water at the top of his lungs, flinging his arms in celebration. He was wonderful. It’s a pity he’s retiring this year — but we hear he’s trained an awesome successor in Chris Osmond.

Check out these videos and photographs:

Predator goggleA shout-out to Skyline Goggles, especially our friend Rick Runckel, President. Neal used the Predator goggles (pictured) during his crossing. These goggles are built for open water swimming — they have a huge viewing angle and don’t hurt eye sockets during swims, whether those swims are 1 hour or 14 hours.

Two upcoming open water swims

house.jpgSorry for the radio/blog silence. I was driving cross-country in my Jeep & Trailer. What a gorgeous drive!

I moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco. I’m new here, and one of the big parts of moving for me is finding a new place to workout. I know about the Dolphin Swim Club in San Francisco, so I went there to check on their latest activities. While I was at the Dolphin Club I heard about two upcoming open water swims.

Both swims are open water swims. Both are relatively short (1-2 miles). And I’ll be doing both with my friend Paul who works at Facebook. I’m super stoked about both! It will be a fun way for us to mix-up workouts, and a good way for me to get in the race mindset prior to the English Channel, which is coming up SOON!

Sunday, June 1 2008
Tri Valley Masters
Lake Del Valle

Livermore, CA
.75 mile (8:00AM)
1.5 mile (9:00AM)

Saturday, June 7 2008
Davis Aquatic Masters
Lake Berryessa
Napa, CA
2 mile (9:30AM)
1 mile (11:25AM)

English Channel temps rise above 50F, hurray!

The water temp in the English Channel has begun to rise above 50F. This is the natural spring-time tendency of the channel and it’s great news for us swimmers. NOAA shows us water temps, conditions and neat little graphs that I wish had a longer time-scale.

24-hour plot - Wind Direction Wind Direction (WDIR): SSW ( 210 deg true )
24-hour plot - Wind Speed Wind Speed (WSPD): 15.9 kts
24-hour plot - Wave Height Wave Height (WVHT): 3.3 ft
24-hour plot - Air Temperature Air Temperature (ATMP): 50.2 °F
24-hour plot - Water Temperature Water Temperature (WTMP): 50.2 °F
24-hour plot - Wind Chill Wind Chill (CHILL): 44.2 °F

[UPDATE] Another online service provides a color map of sea temperatures.


Special thanks for Mark Robson (fellow blogger and Channel aspirant) for clueing us in on the NOAA website and the color map.