Giving It All For A Double-Double

Giving It All For A Double-Double

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Anne Cleveland of La Jolla, California already has one double-crossing of the English Channel under her belt.

This August, Cleveland will attempt to become the first person in history to also do a double-crossing of the Catalina Channel for an unprecedented “double-double”.

We asked Cleveland how she trains for a double-crossing – over 42 miles (68 km) in rough seas. “I was lucky to have the help of Nora Toledano, Marcy MacDonald and Dave Parcells, all two-way English Channel swimmers, for my two-way swim in 2004.”

“Dave and Marcy encouraged me to add pool training into my routine, as I had not done any for my first Catalina crossing or my first English Channel one-way. Nora gave me the key to unlock the two-way in my mind

I trained in three-week cycles: a hard week, followed by an easier recovery week and then a medium week. The hard week included ocean and pool swims totalling 50-60K. The easy week would be 20-30K and the medium week would be 30-40K. Here in La Jolla, we can swim in the ocean year-round. Sea temperatures rarely dip below 55°F (12.7°C) in the winter. Fall and spring provide ~60°F (15.5°C) water to train in. As my mentors Marcy and Dave had recommended, I joined a local masters swim program for interval training to develop speed and strength.”

Starting in mid-April of the year I did the English Channel double, I began swimming 10-12 miles in the ocean both on Saturday and Sunday during my hard cycle. The easy cycle was whatever I could do to recover and begin to ramp up the distance again the following medium cycle. Longer training swims in the ocean provided an excellent opportunity to train the mind. One tactic I used during my 2003-2004 two-way training year was to swim with a particularly annoying training partner. This way, I learned to keep swimming in spite of mental irritation. Training when tired was another good way to gain control of my mind during long, cold, difficult swims. If I began to feel the effects of the long swim, I would pretend I was on the return leg of my swim and find new ways to keep myself going.”

Anne’s focused training was ultimately successful with a 28 hour 36 minute crossing in 2004. From England to France, Anne crossed in 11 hours and 51 minutes and then ran into rough seas for a gutsy 16 hour 45 minute return leg. As time goes on, we age and tend to lower our athletic expectations. Not Anne.

For my upcoming Catalina Channel two-way attempt, I am raising the bar. I have a target pace I try to hold on my training swims. I will do more miles on the big weeks with shorter recovery periods. I’m a better swimmer now than I was six years ago. Experience, technique refinement and a few more years of laps under my belt has made me able to do more at a faster pace. I’m 54 years old now, and don’t know how much longer the window will stay open to allow me to do these ultra-distance swims. I’ll be giving this one all I’ve got.”

Anne also uses GPS to monitor, measure and analyze her workouts, utilizing the available technology to maximize her preparation performance.

This is a picture of my training course. I did this wim the last two Saturdays with a total distance of just under 11 miles. My average pace for both swims was 1.99-2.01 nautical miles/hour. Now, my goal is to extend those swims, holding that same pace.”

I will continue to swim this route frequently throughout my training, going farther north each time (16-20 miles maximum). The north end of this route is very much like swimming in the open ocean, excellent channel training. On my big mileage weeks I will two long swims two days in a row and perhaps three days in a row.”

Whether it is her training swims or her actual attempt, Anne knows well that her success is not a solo effort. She surrounds herself for an experienced support team.

My crew, all time-tested and true friends, will be my go-to people while I swim. When I look up from the water, I will see them smiling and looking interested. When I finish on the beach, it will be my crew I will be looking to. Channel experts John York, Paula Selby, Lynn Kubasek, Michelle McConica, Don Rasky, Todd and Alana Robinson, Emily Evans and Gubba Sheehy (fellow coach and 2000 Olympic silver medalist in water polo) will be aboard the Outrider with skipper John Pittman and on the water in kayaks providing the support I need.”

Training, check. Experience, check. Support crew, check. All systems seem ready to go. But Anne explained the real key to unlocking a double crossing.

Nora gave me this sage advice before my English Channel two-way. My starting point was a beach in France. I had to swim to my starting point. That was only my prerequisite swim. My swim was finished when I crawled out onto a beach back in England. Freda Streeter and I had a chat the afternoon before I swam and she told me, ‘When you’re standing on the beach in France, don’t tell yourself you have to swim all the way back to England. Just tell yourself ‘I’m going to see how far I can swim’. The go until the next feed. You can always talk yourself into doing another feed.’ I did as Freda said. And I did feed-to-feed. Then five more minutes. Then one stroke at a time. People ask me how I did that swim. I tell them that I did it ‘one stroke at a time’.”

With less than six months to go, Anne is preparing for an assault on one of the world’s great marathon swimming channels and re-writing the book on what women over the age of 50 can do.

I am still putting together my strategy for Catalina two-way this summer. So far, my training is going well. I am overcoming hurdles. As I do, I realize how much of all this is mental. Our bodies reflect what is going on in our minds. As a yoga teacher, I have found marathon swimming to be a great place to practice managing my mind. Then, we can take it to our everyday life for practice there..”

Whether on land or in the water, it is clear that Anne is a role model on how to properly prepare for a major marathon swimming undertaking.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones