The Swimmer's Ear

November 1998

Newsletter of the Potomac Valley Masters Swimming Committee


In this issue:

Letter from the Chair

Sink or Swim, Captain Crosses the English Channel

Swimmers of the Year

Preparing Your Senses

Potomac Valley Meeting Minutes 10/18/98

Date Change for Colonies Zone Championship Meet

Coach Wanted


From the Chair

The 1999 USMS Convention was held in Cincinnati, September 30 through October 4, in conjunction with US Aquatic Sports. Following are a couple of items that may be of interest to swimmers within Potomac Valley.

Colonies Zone Meets — 1999 Short Course Yards Colonies Zone Meet to be hosted by Terrapin Masters at the University of Maryland, College Park (May 1999) 2000 Short Course Yards Colonies Zone Meet to be hosted by International Swimming Hall of Fame, Ft. Lauderdale, as a Colonies/Dixie Showdown (probably in April 2000).

2000 USMS Nationals — Short Course to be hosted by Phoenix Swim Club, Phoenix, AZ. Long Course to be hosted by Maryland Masters, UMBC, Catonsville, MD.

Rules Change — The USMS House of Delegates approved a change in Rule 102.2 Age Determining Date (see details in October PVLMSC meeting minutes).

USMS Sponsors and Associated Supporters — is the "provider of choice" for USMS receives credit for sign-ups if you mention USMS.

There is a USMS "Bookstore" link on the USMS Web site to If you enter through USMS and make a purchase USMS will receive a percentage (a greater % if it is one of the swimming books listed on the USMS site).

New USMS National Sponsors TYR Sports, NIKE Swim, and Barracuda. These companies, in addition to previously existing sponsors (Kast-A-Way, MBNA, Speedo, Finals, Alamo, Telephone Card, Destinations Unlimited, Mindspring) have resulted in contributions of over $52,000 per year for USMS programs. It is hoped that USMS members will help with support of these sponsors.

You can find more items resulting from Convention in the PV LMSC minutes inside. And don’t forget that registration renewal!

Happy Laps, Debbie Morrin


Sink or Swim, Captain Crosses the English Channel

By: Jim Seip, Staff Writer, Wheaton Gazette (reprinted with permission)

Captain Jim Campbell of the United States Navy grew up in Hawaii, swam competitively in high school and college, attended UCLA and served three years as a ship driver in Vietnam. Never far from the ocean, the 49-year-old took his life in the water a step further Aug. 15 when the Olney resident successfully swam the English Channel.

The dream started two years ago when a co-worker, Tom Clancy, encouraged Campbell to try to swim the Channel instead of merely training for a one or two mile race. Clancy, who has attempted unsuccessfully to swim the Channel four times, and at 71 hopes to become the oldest man to reach the shores of France from England, told Campbell what he needed to do to get in shape and who to hire to supervise the swim once he got to England.

Campbell needed to train for the Navy's physical fitness exam regardless of his plans to complete the "Everest of swimming," and swam three hours every Monday through Friday before work. A routine that began with a 4 am rise. He also packed on about 15 to 20 extra pounds to prepare for the rigors of the swim. Campbell also prepared for the trek by swimming at Virginia Beach and Ocean City, although he never swam more than eight hours consecutively. He arrived in England on July 31 and swam in the harbor at Dover to adjust to the cold water. There he met other swimmers who later in the month will attempt to swim the 21-mile channel.

"I'm not afraid of the ocean, I've always loved it," Campbell said at his home in Olney. "There is a real group of camaraderie [at Dover] because everyone is against the same thing, everyone encourages you."

All that encouragement meant little one hour into the swim after an auspicious start. Confronted by the knowledge that the fastest swim across the Channel would take around 12 hours, swimmers have to choose between leaving the White Cliffs of Dover at dark or reaching France at dark. So Campbell awoke at 2:45 am to get ready for a departure at 4 am Mike Oram, the boat captain who supervised his swim delayed the start for two hours because of rough conditions.

At 6 am Campbell finally entered the 61-degree water in nothing but his trunks and goggles where he encountered three to five foot swells. (The Channel Swimming Association guidelines prohibit wet suits.) He crawled out of the ocean 17 hours and 41 minutes later.

"I didn't swim the first four hours, I was just surviving," said Campbell who was hit by waves from all sides at the start. "As long as I didn't get cold I knew I could keep swimming."

After hours into his swim he looked back, expecting not to see land, but the cliffs still loomed over him. It was then he decided to focus on each stroke. The initial choppy water subsided after four hours, and the father of four sons was able to make real progress for the next six hours with the help of a wind at his back.

Once an hour he swam next to the boat and grabbed a drink of a mixture of high-carbohydrate powder and water. On alternating hours he ate chocolate rolls and used mouth wash to prevent his throat from swelling because of the salt water.

"At 10 hours I was well beyond what I'd ever done," Campbell said. "It was not within the realm of a possibility that I could quit, the next thing I was looking for was night fall. The only thing [Oram] said to me about progress was after it had just gotten dark. 'I don't want to exhaust you but if you can swim any faster you'll be able to swim with the current.'"

Already exhausted, Campbell couldn't catch the current and missed the desired beach for landing and had to swim one or two extra miles. He finally saw land at Cape Gris-Nez, France and had to maneuver around rocks and waves to reach the shore. Even though he had to climb out of the water on rocks, he wasn't finished.

"It was a new moon so there was zero light, I couldn't hear a wave until it breaks," explained Campbell. He was guided in by fisherman who had flashlights and a spotlight from the boat. He was hit by one wave and fell across a rock covered with barnacles that sliced his hands and chest.  

And the triumphant landing?

Well, Campbell had to turn around and swim about 1500 feet back to the boat for the return voyage to England.

"I didn't get sea sick the whole time over. Once I got into the boat .... it took five minutes for me to get sick. I barfed all the way back."

The physical demands of the swim were just beginning. He never plans to repeat the feat and still can't lift his right arm above his shoulder. Due to the early start on Saturday and the sickness that followed his completion of the swim, over a two-day period he slept nine hours. After he hydrated his body he noticed he lost nine pounds of fat. "I told my wife, I wouldn't recommend this for a diet."

The swim is also a tax on finances. An airline ticket, lodging, the boat, and a Channel Swimming Association attendant to declare the swim legitimate total near $3,000 in expenses.

He is the third individual to swim the Channel this August, the only month where the water is warm enough for the journey, and is about the 500th individual to cross since it was first done in 1875.

"It's hard to say how far I swam," Campbell said. "I had my self-doubts in the first four hours."

He wasn't the only one. His wife asked him to double his life insurance policy before he left.


Swimmers of the Year

1997-1998 Short Course Yards Season

The Potomac Valley LMSC Swimmer of the Year awards for the c season will be presented to Barbara Frid (DCM) and Neill Williams (DCAC) at the Turkey Classic, November 22.

In second through fifth place in the awards standings were Joann Leilich, Jayne Bruner, Anne Walker, and Barbara Zaremski completing a D.C. Masters sweep for the women. For the men, Clay Britt (ANCM), Wally Dicks (ANCM), Mark Pugliese (DCRP), and Michael Fell (ANCM) rounded out the top five Potomac Valley swimmers.


Preparing Your Senses

By: CJ Lockman Hall, M.A.

Welcome to a series on imagery. Imagery is mentally rehearsing your event many times before it actually occurs. The benefits of imagery abound: athletes have reported increased confidence and automaticity, feeling better prepared, and feeling more relaxed.

The key to effective imagery is including ALL of your senses to create as realistic a "mental movie" as possible. In this first installment, we will cover sight.

SIGHT —The key to sight in effective imagery is to picture as many relevant details as clearly as possible. Here are some examples of images to create in your mind:

What does your competition site look like? If you have never been there, try to get a photo so your images can be as accurate as possible.

How will everything look from in the pool? The importance of race-day perspective is utmost. Remember when you looked up at a cliff or a diving board and boasted "that's not so high!" - and then changed your mind after you scaled the heights?!

Are there pool lights or sunshine that you might need to adjust to? How will the event be set up - flags, lane ropes and starting blocks; spectators, officials?

Picture yourself performing ideally, at the "real-time" pace of the event. And don't forget to develop your images in color!

CJ Lockman Hall swims with the Montgomery Ancient Mariners.


Potomac Valley Meeting Minutes 10/18/98

By: Cheryl Wagner

Last Meeting's Minutes - Changes

Margot Pettijohn, Sanctions, requested that "meet evaluation committee" be changed to "swimming committee" in the following sentence from the 6/28/98 meeting minutes:

  1. Margot has determined that it is not necessary to require a swimming committee on the meet evaluation form.

Chair Report:

Report from Convention: 


Rules Change:

102.2 Age Determining Date

A. For Short Course Yards, the eligibility of a participant for a particular age group will be determined by the age as of the last day of the meet.

  1. For Short Course Meters and Long Course Meters, the eligibility of a participant for a particular age group will be determined by the age as of December 31st of the year of competition.

USMS Sponsors:

Treasurer's Report:


Registrar's report:

Report from Convention:



Sanctions report:

Top Ten report:

Officials Report:

Other Business:



Date Change for Colonies Zone Championship Meet

The Colonies SCY Zone Championship at the University of Maryland has been moved ahead one week from May 7,8,9 to April 30, May 1, 2. Mark your calendars!


Coach Wanted

US Masters Registered Swim Team in Northern Virginia, Fairfax area, looking for a coach 3 hours a week — Sundays mornings, Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Applicant must possess the ability to lead a small team of 20 in technique, stroke improvement, and provide challenging workouts for swimmers of different levels. Masters experience preferred. Call Paula or Matt (703) 323-0880.