SmackDab Unprecedented In The Middle Of Lake Michigan

SmackDab Unprecedented In The Middle Of Lake Michigan

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

It is unprecedented for the endurance athlete community and general public to witness exactly what happens during an ultra-marathon swim.

While news coverage, photos and bits and pieces of video of ultra-marathon swimmers have been shown over the past century, Jamie Patrick and Ridgeline Entertainment will bring a pioneering perspective of the 71-mile The Great Lake Swim in Lake Michigan.

The non-stop broadcast will roll from beginning to end, through the night and filming every feed, every navigational decision, every bright spot and dark alley throughout the 114 km solo swim.

The smiles and the stamina; the fears and the frowns; the uncertainty and unpredictability will be unveiled for all to observe.

As the drama of swimming for over 2 days unfolds, the cameras will continue to roll. As Patrick continues to swim mile after mile and hour after hour, Doug Stanley and his crew at Ridgeline Entertainment will break away for backstories, interviews, past training swims, and features with Patrick, his family and his crew.

Not only will the broadcast platform allow HD quality video to stream live throughout the swim, but SmackDab will also allow viewers to chat with other fans and crew to ask questions and learn more about open water swimming and its specialty niche of ultra-marathon swimming. SmackDab also offers individuals to be invited into a side ‘friends-only’ chat room and viewers can also chat directly with people on the escort boats and behind the scenes.

Commentary, opinions and observations can be provided in real-time as if the general public is right there sitting alongside the crew members and volunteers on this unprecedented adventure in interactive endurance sports. They will be able to see the glory and the guts necessary to deal with the discomfort and drama that Patrick will undoubtedly face for nearly 50 hours in Lake Michigan.

SmackDab is the new social viewing platform for Facebook which Patrick and Stanley will use to interact with online followers around the globe while are swimming stage-by-stage across the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean.

If there is anyone up to the task, it is Stanley who has produced the most amount of television footage in difficult marine environments. With nearly a decade of hit cable television shows under his belt, from the Deadliest Catch to the Lobster Wars, Stanley and his team at Ridgeline Entertainment deliver not only unique 3D programming, but also produce innovative, next-generation social broadcasting from some of the wildest places on Planet Earth.

Essentially, Jamie’s swim will utilize Facebook as a television channel,” explains Stanley who has produced unique programming from Alaska to Johannesburg South Africa where the footage went live to satellite and Direct TV as well as the first pay-for-view programming on Facebook. “We are on the bleeding age of broadcasting for tomorrow,” the two-time Emmy Award winner explained from San Francisco. “We created a professional broadcast platform within Facebook that reaches throughout the online social world.”

Stanley’s experience and vision are seemingly the perfect match for Patrick, the charismatic California swimmer. Their energy and talents feed off of one another. “Jamie and the Great Lake Swim has what it takes to become a hit story with trackable elements. Marathon swimming is a rich world for stories that can draw reach through traditional media. As the traditional media draw visitors to the online world, we can also simultaneously promote interactivity in the online world. The nature of the 90-mile swim itself – and the time that it will take – allows for secondary and tertiary stories about Jamie, the sport and his crew. This kind of event has the potential to create good media and a great backbone for outstanding stories.

The swim, the crew, the dramatic environment with the weather and marine creatures of the Great Lakes Swim offers great media. Before, during and after the swim, we can draw as many stories as possible with its rich character set. Plus the trackable nature of the swim and the nature of the swim itself is capable of drawing huge national and international audiences over time. Because there is so much time, we can pre-produce elements. This really opens up the social environment where people can communicate on parts of the story and communicate with each other.”

Producing The Great Lake Swim is data-driven social broadcasting in a highly addressable form. “We want to do the best for the entire open water swimming community. We will add different layers of the onion, creating individual events and an entire ecosystem of broadcasts that allows for separation of data. We have access to 400,000 people who are into open water swimming with a full-live data stream on Facebook.”

But filming on the water is not easy by any means, whether it is the north Pacific Ocean with The Deadliest Catch or The Great Lake Swim on Lake Michigan. Which is why Stanley’s experience and technology is so invaluable. “We will use a new technology for cell phone signal utilizing IP broadcasting techniques that gather to a live switcher and then to our broadcast partners. Essentially, we use a HD camera whose signal runs into a backpack with 8-13 cell phone modems inside. The technology divides the signal into packets, transmits it individually, and then re-assembles it back together for live broadcasting in our master control center. This kind of technology allows us to produce proper live broadcast with uninterrupted signal and programming. But what is important is that The Great Lake Swim will not be one-way broadcasting. We will be providing updates from the crew on Jamie’s boat who will use their mobile hot spot to broadcast via Skype and FaceTime.”

Patrick is excited about the opportunity to talk about his support team. “There is the untold story of my crew. They are all characters in themselves. Our live portal will get emails during the swim and they will respond, about the navigational side of things, what I am eating. I simply could not do this without these people around me.”

The wireless broadcasting from Lake Michigan will use new types of GoPro-type cameras: an iON camera – one HD version and one mobile phone version. “So we will see people using iON camera that will show the broadcast on their cell phone if they call on a 1-800 number on our shot-and-share platform. One problem that we found with GoPro cameras in the marine environments where we film is that the GoPro cameras fog. But the iON camera is waterproof. And when the camera is on, it vibrates. We will also construct mobile underwater switchable unit with a live switch signal. For Jamie’s swim, we will use the most advanced broadcast technologies available to show just what social broadcasting is and can be and do in the future.”

During the swim, Stanley and his team will be telling stories about Patrick’s training, his motivations, his life in San Francisco, and his family as they develop his character on a grand scale. For the estimated 50-hour swim will be a challenge like few others in 2014. Of the 116 solo swims that have taken longer than 24 hours, only 10 in history have taken 55 hours. But only two – by the renowned Vicki Keith in Lake Ontario – have been done in water as cold as Lake Michigan will be at around 67-69ºF (19.4-20.5ºC).

So much time, so many stories to tell.

For more information on his swim, visit The Great Lake Swim here at

The Great Lake Swim from Jamie Patrick on Vimeo.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones