Monday, March 03, 2008

Open water swim practice in cold Grapevine Lake

Our first open water swim practice had the Dallas and Fort Worth North Texas triathlon teams gather 9AM Saturday morning at Rockledge Park on Grapevine Lake.

Everyone wore a wetsuit, those going to Hawaii for Lavaman borrowing from TNT alumni and other fellow team members. I tried out my new sleeve-less wetsuit recently arrived in advance of our race at the Lone Star in Galveston.

The prevailing sentiment of the entire group was, "Holy crap, this water is cold!" And it was.

58 degrees Fahrenheit cold.

I don't know how far we swam. I was in the water for just over 30 minutes and opted not to take a second lap, though a few fellow "halfers" did. Most everyone overcame the shock of cold water on their face and did the distance very well. The whole point of the exercise to gain experience in the open water which is very different from pool swimming in a number of important ways, including:

  1. You can't see the bottom or even your own hands in many cases.
  2. You can't stand up if you're tired.
  3. You can't stop and rest at the wall.
  4. You're surrounded by dozens of other people.
  5. Your surroundings are almost invariably unfamiliar.
  6. You can't swim in a straight line without "sighting" - periodically looking up during your stroke and navigating.

For certain, my sighting needs help! My swim experience from Lone Star 2007 is proof of this. I have a hard time swimming in a straight line which is only exacerbated by cold and fatigue as my swim form breaks down and my stroke tends to cross my body. Knowing these things in practice will surely help me avoid them on race day. And practice will help me improve; we're back in the open water this next weekend for a practice triathlon.


TrophyClubStormwater said...

As a swimmer, I am deeply bothered by the TCEQ and City of Trophy Club’s approach to environmental protection for the tributaries of Grapevine Lake. Trophy Club expressly allows, by city ordinance, the backwashing of pre-2005 pools into the streets and storm drains and the TCEQ has refused to respond to citizen nuisance complaints. I have posted a video of one of these events on my street at:

This is not an isolated event in Trophy Club and I represent a much larger group of citizens who have been affected by pool paint, gunnite and silica being dumped into the streets and storm drains via pool filter backwash. By my estimations, 300 pre-2005 pools are discharging over a quarter million gallons of untreated wastewater containing in excess of 5 tons of solids every year. This illicit discharge is not even quantified in Trophy Club’s current Stormwater Management Plan submitted to TCEQ.

Pool filter backwash is a well documented vector for Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Legionella, etc. and Grapevine Lake is both a recreational lake and a public water source.

We have been unable to sway the City in this approach despite years of genuine concerted effort to communicate this pressing public health, safety and environmental issue. Now the City has applied for coverage under the TCEQ General Permit and the Stormwater Management Plan(SWMP) submitted to TCEQ will allow for at least 5 more years of this discharge.

If this concerns you, you have very little time to comment at the address below requesting a public meeting where this can be properly reviewed.

Attn: Ms. LaDonna CastaƱuela, TCEQ Office of the Chief Clerk
MC 105, PO Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087
Re: City of Trophy Club, TX - General Permit TXR040080, Phase II MS4


Ryan Chitwood
email:, 10 Overhill Drive, Trophy Club TX 76262 (817) 243-6280

David O. said...

When and where will there be upcoming open water swim practices? Will there be groups returning to Grapevine Lake? I would like to participate . . .

Rob said...

I also would like to participate in some open water swims at Grapevine Lake to train for a triathlon in May. Is there a schedule for this year?

Ryan Chitwood said...

Thanks to all the Grapevine Lake swimmers who wrote in about the Trophy Club Pool ordinance. The new ordinance went into effect on 6/15/2010! said...

Are you still active? I want to join or create an Open water swimming group..if any one is game drop a line-