Blue Skins Swimming, Sylvia

Blue Skins Swimming, Sylvia

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

44-year-old Sylvia Marino is a technology consultant from Mill Valley, California. After starting up swimming in her 30s, she has been swimming all over the world, from Utah to Boston, from Alcatraz to the English Channel, from Croatia to Turkey, always in skins.

We asked her what got her started and what keeps her motivated:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your swimming background?
Sylvia Marino: I started swimming 11 years ago, taking my first swim lesson. I did not know how to swim other than the basic dog paddle and treading water. I started with a few lessons and tried my skills as a triathlete which was short-lived as I hate running. I found myself drawn to the camaraderie and depth of experience at the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco. Over the years I’ve worked on the technical aspects of my stroke, endurance and overall preparation with the help of my coach, Jordan Wood.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What motivates you to swim in places from Catalina to the Cold Half in Hong Kong?
Sylvia Marino: It’s about putting together a plan and seeing if I can execute on it. It’s finding out where my boundaries are and seeing if I can push through them even when everything indicates failure. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed. But the experience of success is always brought about by many failures – either a failed attempt, a bad day in the pool or bay, tedious stroke corrections – it all makes you re-examine, correct, re-focus and move forward. It’s very much like life – dynamic, never perfect and how you adjust is very personally defining. Longer training and event swims for me are always a very private and personal challenge. In fact, only a handful of people knew about Catalina or that I was out doing long training swims until after I had completed it.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you schedule your swims around vacations or are they spur-of-the-moment decisions?
Sylvia Marino: Yes and yes! I made the decision to do the Cold Half on December 26th, less than 30 days to the event.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What makes you nervous in the open water?
Sylvia Marino: One thing and one thing only – lack of coverage. If I’m not confident in my pilot/kayaker – looking out for me against boat traffic, properly navigating and knowing the course and managing feeds – it zaps more energy and mental resources from me than I can really make up over a long course. Everything else I can handle from jellyfish, chafing, vomit, weather, tides and temperature. But if I don’t feel I’m being covered, I can’t just settle in and focus on the swim.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What do you like to eat before, during and after your swims?
Sylvia Marino: I eat warm and light before a swim – maybe oatmeal or soup. During the swim my preference is UCAN and warm water. After the swim… anything that isn’t nailed down.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Where do you normally train?
Sylvia Marino: My home club is the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco. I also try and train 3-5 times a week in pools around the Bay Area. My schedule dictates which pool and/or masters group I may workout with on any given day. My regular training partners are also my mentors and close friends – Suzie Dods, Ranie Pearce, and Coach Jordan Wood.

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