Hertz Goes Into Overdrive

Hertz Goes Into Overdrive

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

She has a lot of marathoning left to do,” predicts Tampa Bay Marathon Swim race director Ron Collins about Lisa Hertz.

The 28-year-old took a little spring break from class and turned in an impressive 12 hour 46 minute swim at one of the longest competitive marathon swims in the world this past weekend.

The English schoolteacher from Winter Haven High School in Florida was one of the five solo swimmers to finish the 24-mile wind-blown, turbulence-strewn course across Tampa Bay. The emerging swimmer and pioneer of the Assawoman Bay explained her experience.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you expect to swim for nearly 13 hours?

Lisa Hertz: My training partners, which includes the race director Ron Collins, expected my finish time to be around 9 hours, maybe 10. Just recently, I have learned that it is better to overestimate your finish time. That way, finishing around your estimated finish time feels wonderful, like you are coming in early, and you aren’t disappointed when you have to keep swimming a long time. I figured I would swim 12 hours when I saw the winds that morning, so I separated my swim into four, three hour cycles. It seems more manageable when you think of it that way.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What were you thinking at you took your last stroke at the finish?

Lisa Hertz: I only asked how far to the finish when there was less than one mile to go. Then my crew started yelling out “500 yards!” “200 yards!” When they said “75 yards!” I could see the sand forming underneath me. It felt like it came out of nowhere. It was a really neat finish because I started right when the sun came up and finished right before the sun went down. It was amazing to touch the sand with the sun setting. It had been cloudy most of the day, but there weren’t any clouds on the horizon and it was a really pretty sunset. When I first touched the sand, I thought I was going to start crying. But then I had to focus on getting up and clearing the water. All I could hear was my teammates cheering, which took me aback a little. I wasn’t expecting that and it is unusual for the end of a swim. My mom wrapped me up in a towel and I just stood there grinning.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did your training prepare you well?

Lisa Hertz: I am very lucky to train with some amazing marathon swimmers. I used to be a sprinter in college. I swam 50 free, 100 free, 100 back, and 200 back for Franklin and Marshall College. Training for those events is insanely different than training for marathon swimming. But for both types of swimming, it is crucial to have the support of teammates and wisdom and expertise of those who have experienced more than you have. Mark Smitherman, one of the finishers of last year’s tough Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, is one of my main mentors. He is an amazing and inspiring athlete and will lead our training group on workouts that seem impossible…until we finish them. Smitherman and Chris Burke are training for Manhattan Island Marathon Swim this year and Carl Selles and I would round out our core training group. There is no way I could have been sucessful training alone. Marathon swimming is such an individual, isolating sport, but dependent on people that care about you so much during the training and swims as well.

More specifically, I swam long on Saturday and Sunday. The combined weekend distance almost equalled the distance of Tampa Bay Marathon Swim. One of these days would be an open water swim in the Gulf of Mexico. In the fall, the weekend was less intense and I swam the same workouts as the Winter Haven Stingrays swim club where I live. Workouts were two hours, five nights a week and three additional mornings a week. I also coach cross country where I teach high school and ran a few miles a week with the team. By January, my Winter Haven coach gave me different workouts and I only did dryland in the mornings because the weekends were so intense, up to five hours a day.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did your pace hold even throughout the swim or did you negative-split or tire?

Lisa Hertz: My initial race plan for 10 hours of swimming was 3 hours easy, three hours cruising, three hours really swimming hard, and than an hour sprint at the end: everything I had left. We made some alterations to that. I had to insert an entire three-hour cycle. Something about the tides also made a game-day change to go out hard not only the second hour, but the third hour as well. The entire fourth three-hour cycle had the worst chop of the whole race, so I was glad that I had save some energy for going out hard at the end. I needed to use it all to face the chop. After the Gandy, the winds shifted to straight north and were blowing strong.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Looking back, what other types of training might have been helpful?

Lisa Hertz: I started doing yoga after a suggestion from Carl Selles, my training partner and the oldest person to complete TBMS. Yoga was very helpful and strengthened sore muscles. I would have like to have found more time for this, because it was very helpful. All of my dryland training was pretty basic but essential. I did core work, therapy bands, and running. Most of my training was in the water.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: If you lived inland (e.g., Kansas or Geneva), how would you have trained differently?

Lisa Hertz: It wouldn’t have changed too much, except for the once a week open water swim would have been non-existent. I think pool training is very important to open water success. In open water, it is easy to not push yourself to your limit and just go with the flow. I believe that having workouts with interal training forcing you to hold an aerobic theshold for a long time are the more important part of the puzzle. Tampa Bay locals have done very well in TBMS when the conditions got tough, so there is something to be said about getting used to the conditions as well, but maybe it is our awesome swim community that we have.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did your training help you (a) hold an even pace or (b) negative-split the race – if that was indeed the case?

Lisa Hertz: The workouts that we did always got harder as we went along. The hardest part of the workout wouldn’t come until two-thirds of the main set was over. This made me better at energy conservation. I don’t think I negative-splitted this race due to the conditions, but if it were not choppy, I might have.

Tampa Bay Marathon Swim Results – Solo Swimmers

1. Samantha Simon (24) 12 hours 18 minutes
2. Lisa Hertz (28) 12 hours 46 minutes
3. Carl Selles (67) 14 hours 21 minutes
4. Ann von Spiegelfeld (52) 15 hours 22 minutes
5. Arnie Bellini (54) 16 hours 17 minutes

Tampa Bay Marathon Swim Results – Relay Teams

1. Bull Shark Beach Open Water Swim Club (Big Donald Lutton, Andrew Lutton, Christopher Beach, Bubba Drody, Juan Cue, Scott Linebaugh): 10 hours 8 minutes
2. Delmarva Dogfish (David Speier, Jennifer Underwood, Jeffrey Benner, Charles Potterton, Bruce Anderson): 11 hours 16 minutes
3. SYSM Shark Bait (Fernette Ramnath, Terri Goodman, Marty Rauch, Ray Becker): 11 hours 49 minutes

Photos and video courtesy of Jason Malick.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones