SCAR Swim Challenge: What, When, How, Why…

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Hello all! It has been a while since I have posted on this blog. I have been finishing my senior year at Smith and between a thesis, captaining the swim team, the job hunt, regular classes, working, etc. I have been a wee bit busy! But, I figured I needed to fire up the blog again since in less than two weeks I am taking on my next open water marathon swim challenge and wanted to keep people updated. So here is the intro blog about what I am doing next—the SCAR swim series.

What:

SCAR is a swim series challenge. It consists of four swims that occur over four consecutive days. SCAR is an acronym containing the names of the four lake/reservoirs that are a part of the challenge. The first swim is Saguaro Lake which is a 9.5 mile (15.2km) swim which is characterized as the warm-up swim of the challenge. The second swim is a 9 miler (14.4km) on Canyon Lake. Canyon Lake is home to some of the most beautiful sights of SCAR, the swim itself twists and winds around curves of the canyon with breathtaking views of rock formations and native wildlife. The coldest part of the entire challenge is reportedly the beginning of Canyon lake by the Horse Mesa dam. The third swim is where the going gets tough (but the tough keep going 😉 ). Apache Lake is considered the “main set” of SCAR as it is a 17 mile (27.3km) swim. This is only two miles shorter than the P2P which I completed last summer. I’ve been told that when the wind kicks up during Apache it becomes a tough, tough swim. Some very accomplished channel swimmers have not made it across and a few swimmers have been pulled due to hypothermia. If you make it through Apache, you are treated to the final swim which is a 6 mile (10K) night swim finishing under the stars and moon on Roosevelt Lake.

In total (in case you haven’t been following along with a calculator) the challenge is a little over 40 miles. Also, unlike the P2P or other marathon swims, SCAR is technically a race. There can be up to 40 entrants per lake. Not everyone swims all 4 lakes but you have a cumulative time at the end if you do. Everyone who knows me, knows that I am competitive and love good racing, but for SCAR I am really just excited about pushing my own limits and seeing what I can do.

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When:

As I mentioned before, this is happening in less than two weeks! Exciting. Scary. The series runs from April 26-29th this year. I will be flying to Arizona from Smith the day before. Timing is not ideal since I will be missing my second to last week of classes at Smith. But I just couldn’t resist signing up when I saw the videos from the previous years. The timing has constrained my training and preparation in some ways but has also amplified it in others. I’m coming off of a whole past spring semester and summer preparing for the P2P followed immediately by my senior swim season at Smith with very little time taken in between. So, I feel like I’ve been training and preparing for over a year at this point. I know I am stronger and faster than I was when I did the P2P albeit I have not had an entire summer to do open water training swims (the available open water in MA right now is 42 degrees….brrr). This is all to say that while the timing isn’t ideal, I am excited and feel ready!

How:

This swim challenge is very different from the P2P and other types of marathon swims which makes the “how” of the swim an interesting new endeavor. Because the challenge is four swims over four days, recovery between swims is the most important thing. I’ve developed a nutrition plan and an immediate post-swim recovery drink that I’ll be using. I am also very lucky to have my brother coming to crew for me—as some may know/will remember, Anthony kayaked throughout last summer for training swims and then also for the P2P itself. Anthony is in training as a full time circus arts performer which means he is doing 6-8 hours of training per day of high impact activity. He is my secret physiological recovery weapon. All through last summer, he helped me trouble shoot and rehab various swimming related injuries. I know he’ll be instrumental in helping prep me and rehab me between swims if things pop up, not to mention—I know he will entertain and encourage me during the swims. Having my brother/best friend along on this adventure makes it even more exciting, there is no one I trust more to take care of me during this challenge.

Why:

The short answer to this question is that I am always looking to challenge myself to “do that which I think I cannot.” To push my own perceived limits and boundaries to accomplish things I never thought possible before. I fell in love with the mental and physical challenge of open water swimming last summer and I couldn’t resist signing up for more swims. The SCAR swim challenge is just the first of three open water marathon swim things I’ll be doing this spring/summer. For now I’ll keep you in suspense about the other two…for now I’ll leave you with my favorite quotes.

“Do that which you think you cannot.”

“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

“I shall either find a way or make one.”

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