A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Picking up the Pieces/Preparedness

As I write this blog, people are still trying to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Sandy blew through the New York/New Jersey area.

I truly hope everyone recovers well through this trying time. It's very tough when people's homes are utterly destroyed by the flooding in the area.


What I find encouraging is the support of friends and family, helping others who are more in need. It's this human nature that I always find amazing when disasters like this hurricane hit. I think of all the commodities one needs to have, friends and family should rank as the most important. Leaning on each other is the best way to get through tough times like these.

For me, this is was a prime test for emergency preparedness. Or, how self-sufficient am I when a disruption of services happen.

It was very sobering. Although we as a family were well off in some things, we were lacking in other things as well. Although it was an unfortunate circumstance, it was indeed a great test to see how we fared.

I found out that the NY Times posted an article about why Big Government is needed in times like this. I offer a bit of a rebuttal here on why it is really YOUR responsibility to be prepared when a calamity hits.

While I do applaud the city government and its formation of several evacuation centers in Staten Island with Hurricane Sandy, and with their first responders for rescuing those who were truly in danger, that should not prevent you from becoming overly dependant on them and other people. What if the storm was so bad that government couldn't even function properly? What if the storm was so bad that even your friends and family couldn't help you out of a bad situation? We've seen a lot of evidence in Hurricane Katrina, where government services broke down utterly and a lot of people suffered because of it.

People have to empower themselves and try to reason out sound plans in case another calamity happens. It's your life (as well as your loved ones) that you're trying to save, so it should be of your paramount importance that you have several emergency plans in place in case a calamity hits. Depending on other people, especially strangers, puts your life in other people's hands who may or may not consider your situation as critical as you see it. So you want to make sure to avoid this as much as possible so that you are in control of your own destiny.

That means being as prepared as much as possible and implementing a number of emergency plans in case a calamity happens.

I know a relative and her husband who has a house in Tottenville, in a "Zone A evacuation area" according to the city. The day before the storm hit, the city enacted a "mandatory" evacuation of Zone A areas. Her husband didn't heed the evacuation orders.

If they wanted to stay by their house in a zone that might get flooded, then that's fine, but maybe, just maybe, they should have made several emergency plans in case the worst case scenario does happen.

They didn't do that. Plus, her husband doesn't know how to swim. Sorry guys, but if you're sticking at your house that has the potential to flood, and you cannot swim, YOU ARE A DISASTER IN THE MAKING. Especially if you didn't even plan for that eventuality.

The flood did happen, and thankfully, the city did respond by sending out responders out to rescue them from their flooded home. But that situation could have easily been prevented, and they know it.

If you were going to defy city orders, fine. Then prepare for a possible flood. A boat or raft at your fingertips might have worked. Or, plan to move away from the house earlier if the water was starting to move into the area. They didn't, and they became trapped.

And dependent on other people to save their lives.

Listen, I'm not saying that implementing several plans and getting prepared will make you 100% self sufficient. It won't.

But you can easily minimize your chances of putting you and your loved ones in other people's hands and being dependent on them if you are prepared.

Having a stash of durable food and clean water is important. With food, freeze-dried is preferred; most have about a 20 year life span before it goes bad. Canned food is the next preferred, with a 2-5 year life. For food, Freeze Dry Guy is pretty reliable. If you want, you can check out their website here.

With water, you can either store several gallons of water for immediate emergencies. For longer term emergencies, a means of sanitizing water would be paramount. Iodine and chlorine (bleach) are effective ways of sanitizing water. The water will taste like crap, but at least it's drinkable. The iodine product is described and can be bought here.

Next is a means of defense. Looting is an unfortunate circumstance in situations like these and you might be called upon to defend yourself and your loved ones. Guns will work; if you don't have a gun, knives and bats will work also. Hopefully you won't need them, but they are good to have in an emergency. It would also be good to learn a bit of self-defense if you don't have weapons available in a life-threatening situation

Having a car filled with gas is also great to have. I was comforted to know I had a fully fuelled car in case I had to "bug out" of the area.

A generator would also work for short-term situations. For long term, it wouldn't work since gas would unlikely be available to keep the generator running.

Lastly, if the worst case scenario does happen and you do have to depend on other people, friends and family are best to have. A good support network is key, and I've seen it prevalent in this case where friends and relatives were willing to help other people in need.

This is one of our best qualities as humans to possess.

Anyway I hope everyone here made it safely through the storm. I wish you and your loved ones a safe recovery, and better preparedness in the future. I am no exception; I will be definitely taking some actions of my own to further increase my preparedness.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My First Trail Race, How I Swore Off Trail Running Then, and How I Love It Now

I owe my origins of trail running to the people at Pretzel City Sports in Pennsylvania.


In the mid-90s, I was a hardcore triathlete and road racer in New Jersey, usually going a ton of these races in the local area.

As is the local tradition of New Jersey races, there is usually a table near the registration where brochures and applications to other races can be laid out. There could be as much as 50 of these applications placed on this table.

Over a period of time, some applications for races from Pretzel City Sports started to appear on this table. What caught my eye about these applications were that they were, well, different, from the other applications.

They proudly proclaimed that they were "the carjacking capital of the world", that you have to be of limited intelligence to enter some of these races, and you're basically bear meat if you don't make your way back to the start below the cut-off time.

If you want to read some of the hilarious applications on their website, you can go to Pretzel City Sports, hover over their Trail Apps tab, and click on any one of the races that pop up. Here are a couple from their Ugly Mudder and the Half-Wit Half Marathon races.

Intrigued, several of us NJ runners decided to race in one of their events. Of course, it would turn out to be one of the tougher races in the series, the Half-Wit Half Marathon.

Yes, I didn't really have my wits about me when I signed up for this race.

Road racers tend to be quite anal in the races they enter. Or is it spoiled? Well, most road races have a nice aid station for every mile of the course, with a nice big number on each side declaring how many miles they've done. And even though some of the courses are hilly, they have the comfort of being sure footed, as every inch of the course is nice hard pavement, which is very easy to try to maintain pace on.

My first trail race was a rude awakening.


This video I got from Youtube can pretty much show you how tough the course is for the Half-Wit Half Marathon


After travelling a couple of hours to the Reading area, I started to warm up before the race. I followed part of the course where it enters a split in a stone wall and the beginnings of the single track trail.

And this is where I encountered the first hill. Two minutes later, I was exhausted.

And worried.

Going up the hill was nothing like in the road races. My footing was so unsure on the uneven path that I was not confident at all.

And I have 13.1 miles of this to do? Egads...

Right before the race, we started to seed ourselves within the group. After Ron Horn, the race director went through his announcements, we were off and running...until we had to walk.

Entering into a very small trail from a much wider road tends to bottleneck the group a bit. And as a road runner, that just destroyed any notion of pacing that I wanted to establish.

Well, later on, I realized that nobody really can't pace accurately in a trail race. But try telling that to me then...

Finally getting onto the trail, I busted my lungs on that first uphill of the race, and the wheels came off soon after. By mile 3 I was hanging on for dear life, trying to make head or tails over what the heck was really going on here. I mean, no water station every mile? No big number telling me what mile I am on the course?

After an hour on the course, I was truly wondering how far I was along. I was figuring about 7-8 miles...

Then reality hit! I finally got to one of the few aid stations on the course and found out that I only did 6 miles!

I was a guy who regularly did 1:25 for a half marathon back then. So you probably know what it's like to discover that not even half the race is done in 60 minutes.

I was deflated. And yet, little did I know that the worst part of the course was coming up.

Immediately after the aid station was the "128 Steps From Hell", a long, steep concrete flight of broken steps cut into a forested hill that totally blew my lungs out (the 128 Steps From Hell is shown for a second or two in the video above, around 2:20 in). At the top, I actually had to start walking just to catch my breath.

And the hills just kept on coming.

In competitive road running, walking, for the most part, is a sign of weakness and defeat. So when I resorted to walking at this point of the race, I was definitely not in a good place emotionally (in trail running, walking is not a sign of defeat, but can be more efficient than running on steep hills).

The downhills were no picnic either, and the footing was treacherous. On a particular downhill section on mile 8, I really twisted my left ankle bad.

When I emerged onto the road at mile 9, I was set to give up. Mile 9 was only a quarter mile away from the finish, so I was tempted to just bow out.

But a moment of insanity kicked in and I decided to continue.

The last 4 miles of the course is like a lollipop, a short, out and back section with a loop at the other end.

The out-and-back section had a beer stop. What the heck...?


I ignored the beer stop and just moved on, shaking my head. Beer at a race? Especially a race with rocks and roots? I would probably fall flat on my face if I even drank a sip.

Still, I twisted my other ankle soon after the stop. Maybe I should have drunk the beer...

The loop section had a huge hill on it, so steep that I had to stop at several points just to catch my breath. When I finally got to the top  of the hill, and back past the beer section at mile 12, I started to swear off all trail races in general.

I got across the finish line in the most rotten attitude ever. Never again was I ever to do another trail race. This stuff is for masochists! Why would anyone want to do these regularly was beyond me.

A week later, I realized that I allowed this race to have the best of me.

Two weeks later, I resolved to give this race another go next year.

During the next year, I discovered that there was a different type of philosophy surrounding trail races that is not present in road races. I was starting to "get it".

The next year, I approached the Half-Wit Half Marathon with a different attitude.

I wound up taking 20 minutes off of last year's time and crossed the finish line with a big smile on my face. I've been transformed.

Trail running for me was a "trial by fire". And I discovered I was not alone on this either. Most road runners usually have a rough transition to trail races. Some, like me, swear it off. But unlike me, they stay sworn off and stay permanently with road races.

So if you are a road runner who had a rough time on the trails, whether is with race or even just a training run, I invite you to try again.

Who knows? You might like it this time around. Or, dare I say, LOVE it. :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Trail Run Schedule Until SI Festival Races on December 8

The Staten Island Trail Festival Races are coming up!!! Choose your distance (10K, 25K, 50K) and dare yourself to go fast in the most rugged race on Staten Island!


To get everyone on the same page, I have issued the fall trail schedule of running to get yourself ready for the Staten Island Trail Festival (nice writeup from NYC Running Mama here) on December 8. And although I will not question your loyalty and fealty to your omnipotent siXac Captain if you don't make any of these runs, I do believe that these runs will definitely help you in getting a great time in your race on December 8.

Plus, I have in the strictest confidence from those who ran with us say that many of the trail runs we host here are very enjoyable indeed, so you'll really want to come down and have a good time with us.

So come on down. No pressure though. ;-)

Anyway, here's the schedule up until the big day on December 8.

Saturday October 20: You have a choice...choice is definitely good.

1) Oktoberfest trail run/hike at Bear Mountain. 6 very rugged miles of climbing Bald Mountain and the Timp pass. Arrive at 7:30AM at Eltingville Park and Ride. Hope to start there between 9 and 9:30AM. Looking for 6-8 miles of running and some walking when the hills get steep. Bottles and food recommended for the run.

2) Normal Trail Run out of High Rock Park at 8AM. Darren has graciously stepped up and is willing to host the run in our absence. If you don't have the time to make a day trip to Bear Mountain, you still have a choice to get some good a good trail run in with Darren. Thanks Darren!

Sunday October 21: Full 25k course run around the Greenbelt.

This will be the first time I'll be going over the entire 25k course. Pace will be very easy to accommodate everyone. Although there are spots where bathrooms and water are located, it is recommended that you have the means to carry food and water with you anyway. Be at the gate at Willowbrook Park at 7:15AM, the exact time of sunrise. We'll start soon afterwards.

Saturday October 27: Long Trail Run in the Greenbelt. We will probably do the same format again; anyone who wishes to go around 15-18 miles report to Willowbrook Park at 6:50AM. Please note the time; we will be shoving off at EXACTLY 7AM so don't be late! Also please note that since this will happen at a time when the sun is not up yet, headlamps are recommended for the first 30 minutes of the run. I will have my Camelbak so I'll be willing to "mule" for you; once the sun is up, you can put your headlamp there for me to carry the rest of the way. Just remember to pet my head, feed me oats from a feed bag, and say, "nice donkey". I'll definitely appreciate it. ;-)

As for those who want to go shorter that day, that's great, just meet at the gate at 8 and don't be late. ;-) The High Rock gate that is. The shorter distance group will probably involve about 6 miles, and it will include Moses Mountain this time. That means that the longer distance group might have to climb Moses Mountain 3 times, so be prepared!

Saturday November 3 - Normal Trail Run with SIAC. I would like to divide the group into slower and faster runners on this day, with the aim of getting the more competitive runners closer to their race pace on the trails. Mileage will be anywhere from 6-8 miles. Meet at High Rock Park at 8AM.

Saturday November 10 - Longish run with SIAC (around 10 miles). This run is long enough to get a good distance run in, but not too long for those who are doing the Wolfes Challenge 5k obstacle race the next day. Meet at High Rock park at 8AM.

Sunday November 11 - Wolfes Challenge 5k Obstacle Race. Ah, teamwork. Much has been said about it the past week, but the truly strong teams will be composed of individuals who freely want to be part of a team, and not be pressured to join one. I have freely chosen to be part of this race with my trusty partner Ms. Extreme (Nancy, of course!  Look for us, Two Xtreme, kicking butt in Wolfes Challenge on November 11. If interested, there should be a SIAC discount (enter "SIAC" in the Coupon Code box) as you register.

Saturday November 17 - The Fall Flat 5k Race from Willowbrook Park. This is a good chance to really open up and go race pace on the trails. It's a very good prep for the upcoming SI Trail Festival on December 8. There will be NO regular group trail runs on this day due to this race.

Saturday November 24 - The last full 25k trail run with the group. This will be at an easy pace. This time, we will NOT be having a shorter distance group meet at High Rock Park. We will meet at Willowbrook Park at 7AM (sunrise is at 6:52 standard time) and go around the entire course. If anyone wants to go a shorter distance, remember that we will be on the White Trail for the first 2.5 miles of the course; you can easily follow the blazes back to Willowbrook Park for an even 5 miles.

Saturday December 1 - The last group trail run before the big race. What I will probably do here is do short pickups to race pace, then bring it back down to easy pace to allow the entire group to reform again. This run will most likely be about 6 miles. Meet at High Rock at 8AM.

Saturday December 8 - The Staten Island Trail Festival 25k/50k Race!!! With all the training you did with us, you're ready to flaunt it! Good luck!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Individuality and How it Meshes with the Running Club - My Philosophical View of Things

The past few years alone I have been discovering my true self and why choose to do certain things over others. There are quite a few revelations that I've discovered that put all aspects of my life together, from the political spectrum, to the races I do.

Part of it is freedom and individuality. I empower myself. Through hard work, I earn my successes, and conversely, I am accountable for my mistakes.

This empowerment also comes from the fact that I am able to choose what I do in order to best achieve the desired results.

When I joined the Staten Island Athletic Club two years ago, it was to find a club where I can identify with other runners, meet up with them for some weekend runs, and share advice with each other.

I am more of a trail runner, and a significant part of the club were road runners. That was fine, as long as I respected their views and they respected mine.

Ever since then, I'm please to see that SIAC is a great club with great people from all walks of life. I'm glad that I joined the club and I've never regretted it since.

President Mark Vogt and the SIAC Board must have seen some potential in me, since I did act a bit differently after all (maybe it was my quirks? ;-) but I was definitely surprised that he and the Board offered me a chair position overseeing a new branch of SIAC called SIAC Xtreme (siXac). For goals, siXac would cover trail running, obstacle racing, multisport races, and ultramarathons.

I will admit that I had some strong reservations in accepting the position. Having a strong individuality, I was fearing that I would have to give up something significant in order to be part of the captaincy. Being a past president of another club (RVRR is still a great club in NJ), I also didn't want to get tied down to pointless politicking either. After all, I did have my own agenda, and it was very different than the mainstream goals of the club (centered on road running and the Triple Crown races). And I was not about to sacrifice any of it as part of the conditions of being in SIAC.

But Mark and the Board gave me the freedom to do what I want with siXac and I have to thank all of them for it. We've grown so much since then, and I have to hand it to my core group of trail runners that stuck with me the first couple of years. You know who you are!

Yet there are individual elements in the club that insist that members have to do certain club things as a condition of being part of the club, and that reporting to their respective captains is necessary as part of being a member of the club.

I find that abominable.

Captains don't have the power to compel people into doing the activities they want them to do. They are not some higher order of noble commanding the serfs what to do. I am not General Zod demanding that everyone kneel before him and do what he says.


I am also a captain of the club, but I don't want to be treated at a level higher than the average member. I want to be on the same level as the members so that they are comfortable in giving me advice as I would give advice to them. To share ideas that I would not even think of. I want people to embrace the siXac division of SIAC with feeling pressured to go on the trails every week.

As captain, I will encourage members to get on the trails and into triathlons. That is the general purpose of the job. But I want to make sure that they WANT to come down. There's no pressure on them to come, but they come anyway because they enjoy being on the trails.

That's a lot different than pressuring someone to come to a club function, right? I think so.

And if they chose something different, then I wish them all the luck in the world pursuing their own goals. They don't sacrifice their individuality either way.

Although I add that we will still be here if they decide to come back. ;-)

And most of them do, fortunately.

Well, enough with this philosophical BS. Let's run!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Group Run Plans for the Cold Feet 10k and Indian Trails

Every so often, I hear a runner comment that since he or she is doing a road race, they will stick to the roads and stay off the trails for the time being.

While I can understand that some people fear that trail running causes injuries because they fear that a rock or root will twist their ankles, I hold to my belief that those fears are really unfounded.

As a matter of fact, I firmly believe that trail running will greatly benefit road runners in ways training on the road cannot do.

Dan McSwiggan and SIAC President Mark Vogt fighting to the Finish Line at the Staten Island Trail Festival 25k at Willowbrook Park

First, trail running forces your foot to land on uneven ground on every step. This forces your stabilizer muscles to work in concert with your prime movers for a more efficient run.

Secondly, your sense of balance is also enhanced and subsequently improved when trail running.

Both developed stabilizer muscles and balance translates well to the road, leading to a more efficient, more economical run which should lead you to faster road times.

But you're allowed to be sceptical. I can prove it to you if you give me the chance.

I'll be forming a group in November or December that will meet at least once per week (mostly on Sundays, but will be additional group runs on other days as well) with the sole purpose of becoming an all around runner, both on trail and on the road. We will mostly stay in the Greenbelt, but we can also go to nearby NJ trails if there is a desire to. I like changing environments every so often, so I'm willing to spend a half hour driving to those trails in NJ. :-)

The group will be aiming for one trail race (the Cold Feat 10k in February) and one of the tougher road races in the area (Indian Trails 15k in April). I can definitely show you how valuable trail running can be to both environments.

The classes will only cost about $40 per calendar month, and I can also show you some techniques that will help you on the trails, as well as arrange a pretty good training plan to help you to achieve your goals in the above 2 races, and in any other race you enter into.

Let me know if you're interested, and I'll put you on the list.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Getting Down to Race Weight for Leadville 2013

So I'm going to Leadville in 2013.

I was thoroughly psyched when I did extremely well in the Vermont 100. My thesis, which was born during my demise at Leadville in 2010 (showing that triathlon training is versatile and strong enough to use in ultras) was proven to be true. I lost the weight and gained the muscle needed to tackle the hills of Vermont.

But this is Leadville. This is the Rockies. Hope Pass is over 3000 feet of elevation at once. With no oxygen, of course.

I'm going to have to get in even better shape than this season.

Especially when looking at this:



The picture above is a belt buckle everyone gets if they go under 25 hours in the race. Look how huge it is.

Now believe me, I know, I should just focus on finishing the race first. But I will tell you something. It might make me train even harder and be even more disciplined if I focus on this goal also. It's a great award to earn, especially when it comes from one of the most difficult races in the world.

So how to train even harder?

Well, a few things can be done. First, I'm already down to 185 pounds, compared to over 200 pounds from last year. And I'm also in great base triathlon shape, compared to last year. Last year I basically started triathlon training from scratch.

This year, all I need to do is maintain this base for a couple of months, which requires that I do a good amount of easy paced training in swimming, cycling, and running, which is not strenuous at all. Then start the real training in December.

Secondly, I get more disciplined in my diet. That means get more primal.

Now yes, this is a tall order. I am part Italian after all, and I like eating bread. But bread is one of the worst things I can put into my body.

Hopefully the fear of this race on my schedule and my failure in it the first time around will keep me focused on diet.

If all goes well, I should be able to lose about 15 more pounds and hit 170 pounds for race weight. If I can toe the line at 170 pounds, I should have a good chance at doing well in the race.

My lightness should compensate for the loss of performance at altitude, or so I hope. Less weight to carry around over 100 miles and all that.

Just a final mention that the race did spur me on this week; my drive is back and I'm out there doing my training again.

It's going to be a very interesting year next year. And I look forward to it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened - Leadville 2013!!!

My mother thinks I need to get my head examined.

Maybe she's right. Maybe I don't know what is good for me. But I'd be damned if I'll have ANYTHING get the best of me.

Especially races.

Last year, Leadville thoroughly whipped my butt. My weight above 200 pounds didn't help, and I realize now that I never even developed mountain legs for the event. The altitude also drove my heart rate to the stratosphere, completing my demise on the slopes of Hope Pass.
Hope Pass, where I met my demise in 2011.


As I stated before, that is when I had the epiphany to do triathlon training for these 100 mile ultramarathons. I knew I didn't want to try Leadville this year because it was too expensive. Vermont was clearly the logical choice since it was expensive and I had a crew willing to help me out in that race. If all went well in Vermont, then I can try Leadville in 2 years.

Triathlon training took me down from 28 hours to under 21.5 hours in Vermont (pdf file; 53rd place).

Not many people can proudly say that they PR'ed by more than 6.5 hours in a race.

The biggest difference was in developing my mountain legs. Lots of cycling and a good dose of trail running sealed the deal.

I was also 25 pounds lighter. That helps a bit.

So I had the go for Leadville next year. But I was holding off on doing the race unless I won the Western States lottery and make it part of the Grand Slam.

In comes my girlfriend (Nancy) and our mutual friend (Jules) in the Staten Island Athletic Club (SIAC).

Both joined our other mutual friend (Amy) in tackling the rough hills of the Mountain Madness on September 29. All 3 did extremely well, as I expected.

So well, in fact, that they were talking about doing the Transrockies 3 Day Race next year.

Thoroughly surprised, my jaw completely dropped.

Then my GF showed me the hill profile of the second stage of the race. Well wouldn't you know it, it looks exactly like Hope Pass!

A little more web searching and I realized it is!!!

Oh, and the Transrockies Race finishes 2 days before the Leadville 100. Oh my!

So here is a perfect opportunity to go out west with friends doing our respective races. How can I not turn it down?

So when registration for the Leadville 100 opens in November, I will be signing on to this race.

So I'll be training like a demon in the coming months, get my weight down to 170 pounds, get my diet squarely in order, and make sure my mountain legs are fully developed for this race.

And I'm going for redemption.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Dear Sharer of Swim Lane - We Need To Talk

This is an open letter to all swimmers, especially those unfortunate enough to share a lane with me and wander into my half:


Dear fellow swimmer:

     It's real early, we're both starting our busy days, and we rightfully choose to get in a nice workout in before our days really start. I commend you for this; it's not easy for a lot of people to wake up early to swim.

     Sometimes the pool gets real busy. I understand that. And when it does, we can be forced to share a lane together. I also understand that, and I accommodate all those swimmers who choose to do so.

     But my definition of "sharing" is an equal 50/50 arrangement, also known as, "I stay on my half, and you stay on yours". Now believe me, you might not be as skilled as me when it comes to swimming. Not many people do. I'm not saying this to be egotistical, but you can definitely see how fast I am in the water as you approach my lane. I also do these big flip turns at the end of the lanes that help with my speed in the pool.

     So, if you look at the overall picture, you can easily tell that I am a competitive swimmer.

     So if you choose my lane, it is really for both of our health that you really adhere to staying on your side of the pool.

      There are a couple of ground rules that I expect from you though. Read these please, because you will really piss off a competitive swimmer like me otherwise.

      1) If you don't see me stopping as you approach my lane, the chances are that I'm doing long distance sets. DON'T INTERRUPT ME! Don't wave a kickboard in front of my face; don't block my way with your body; don't try to splash me to get my attention. If I'm doing a timed set I won't hesitate to bull right over you so that I can continue on. I've been known to do that on occasion.

     The right way to approach me is to slip into the lane when I'm on the other side, and STAY ON ONE SIDE until I pass by once. Don't start swimming immediately; I probably do not know you're there yet. Wait for me to pass once before you start. Don't worry, I will DEFINITELY notice you. I will then casually move over to the other side so that you can do your laps.

    2) Stay on YOUR side of the lane. Now I do understand that some swimmers might lack the skill to staying straight in the lane, but hey, you saw how fast I can go, and still YOU CHOSE MY LANE. You can easily get both of us injured if you stray on over to my side. If you're not confident of your stroke being true, you could have chosen another lane with a more casual swimmer. Sharing with a casual swimmer will reduce any chances of injury if you stray from your side of the lane.

     I've now had a couple of occasions where an errant swimmer jammed a part of their body on me as I passed (a shoulder in the past, and now a finger this morning). But hey, I'm not here to apologize. You knew damned well who you were swimming with. Maybe next time, either choose another lane or get your stroke straight before entering my lane again.

     3) No I will NOT stop my flip turns because of you. You don't like the splash? You don't like your hair getting wet? Well jeez, take a look around fellow swimmer, you're at a pool! You're SUPPOSED to get wet and get splashed. Live with it. If you don't like it, there are other places you can go where you don't have to worry about that stuff.

     Fellow swimmer, I'm really not that hard to work with, and I've shared lanes plenty of times with swimmers without any problems. But you need to respect what I'm doing in the water before you choose my lane to share with.

     Thank you.