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Feeding stations ... my new open water inspiration

Sherpa has threatened to throw me into Lake Erie this weekend.

Well, not throw me, per se, but have me don my wet suit and get into the water so that I'm prepared for the shock of the cold and waves next weekend at Keuka.

I think I'd rather be surprised on race day ... but we'll see what coach says.

In the meantime, I googled "neoprene swim caps" in an attempt to find some place that could speedily deliver me some head gear that would keep me a bit warmer than my silicone cap.

During the search, I found an article in the Wall Street Journal that described an Olympic open-water swimming qualifier. For the record, Mark Warkentin became the first member of the American swim team when he finished seventh in the race to qualify for a spot at the Beijing Olympics.

This is the first year that open water swimming will be an Olympic event. The "marathon" swim will be 10K -- a distance it takes most Olympic-caliber open water athletes about two hours to complete. (For the record, that distance is about seven times longer than the longest pool event of 1,500 meters).

Of course, there are other distances raced in open water as the USA Swimming National Championships are held in Florida this weekend, including the 5K and 25K distances.

Yeah, I'm still working on .75K (as in not even 1K yet) but there's much hope for me to be gained in reading Warkentin's story.

Like the fact that he was basically a failed pool swimmer who never could master the flip turns well enough to be anything more than an average competitive swimmer.

And the fact that three times during his qualifying swim, he flipped over onto his back at a "feeding station" to get Gatorade and energy gel.

OK, so I'm not swimming any distance that would require me to go through an aquatic feeding station ... but there's something encouraging about knowing that the best open water swimmers often take these breaks. Granted, they only last two seconds, but it's comforting to know that even the best take a rest.

I'll be thinking of that in Keuka Lake when I tread water or do the breast stroke without plunging my face into the cold or do my best Ester Williams side-stroke impression in order to catch my breath.

It's all good.

As long as Sherpa let's me get my wetsuit on first.

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