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Masters Newsletter Update
September 20, 2007
by Tim Sheeper
In this edition:

Dynamic Duo

Dynamic Duo is a 2 person 2000 yard relay and is scheduled for Saturday September 29.  There are four heats, 6:00, 6:40, 7:20 and 8:00am.  It's Fun.  It's more challenging than it seems.  It gives you a great workout in less than 15 minutes of swimming.  If you want to take part in it you must register with Tim Sheeper so I can form even teams.  We are currently at 50% capacity.


Swim Clinics with Janet Renner

Janet is the Head Coach of Maui Masters and she comes into town a few times a year and offers stroke clinics for Menlo Masters swimmers.  She is giving a free and back clinic on Saturday morning and a breast and fly clinic on Sunday morning.  All in the warm pool.  She is good.  Very energetic, personable and takes a true interest in improving the individual.  You must register on line if you are interested.


Michele Santilhano

Michelle is truly a remarkable endurance athlete.  This past weekend she completed a solo crossing of the 21 mile Catalina Channel in a bit over 13 hours.  The crossing adds to her summer which included the Western States 100 mile run, Vineman Ironman Triathlon, Catalina Channel Relay Swim, Lake George 20 mile swim, and countless other multisport challenges.  The following are accounts of her crossing which were forwarded to me by her crew.  Menlo Masters applaud her efforts and fortitude and agree with a group of endurance athletes that met Michele and nicknamed her "Human 2.0."

This is from Forrest - The Crew Chief:

I've heard stories of incredible fortitude. Michele's 13-hour Catalina Channel swim was the first time I've witnessed a feat of this magnitude. Her crossing immediately ranks among my "top 10 favorite swimming stories". It's that inspiring.

Had I known (at the time) exactly how seasick she was on the evening boat trip over to the island, I might have counseled Michele differently. Our experienced boat pilot stopped mid-Channel in a chaotic mixed-swell and strong winds. There were doubts this would be an ideal swimming night. Maybe it was time to reconsider. The best I had to offer was the forecast was for diminishing winds... by the time she'd cross these waters again, perhaps 12 hours later, the winds were supposed to be calm. As luck would have it, the forecasters were correct - for once.

Michele was ill before the swim started, and continued to struggle with nausea and internal distress. Imagine trying to feed every 20 minutes, knowing the drink is meant to sustain you. And it's just as likely going to make you wretch your guts. Michele hesitantly drank at each stop. Even a few sips brought on the heaves. 

What rarely wavered was Michele's focus. One goal. Even if she could take only a few strokes at a time. I'd watch her talk with herself. Pep talks in the pitch black waters, to help calm her nerves and discount negative emotions. Convince herself she had the ability to put together 50 consecutive strokes. Then put her head down and after 2 strokes wince in pain, roll over and nearly vomit. On occasion, there were vocal sounds that I'm not sure were human. Only to repeat this process.

I've watched swimmers falter, but never have I seen one recover from such despair. About an hour before daybreak, after 5 hours of swimming, and 2 hours of regular gut-wrenching heaves, Michele said she'd suffered enough. She wanted to "call" the swim. Make the pain stop and climb aboard the escort boat. Find a hot shower and sleep the remainder of the day.

What Michele proved to us, today, was she could suffer another 8+ hours. And she ought to "call" this 20-mile Catalina Channel crossing a crowning success... and I hope Michele doesn't hold true to her mid-Channel promise to "never swim again". It'd be a downright shame if she missed the pre-party swim at November's Catalina Channel celebratory event.  Forrest

This is from Emily Evans - Crew Member:

Yes - Michele made it! - It was an great event adventure swim experience.

Michele has a powerful mind I think they could solve the energy crisis if they tapped into her will power - it's quite amazing.  She did a great job - despite sickness, and "large fishies" bumping her in the night.  Some of the highlights of the swim from my vantage were to see Michele go from experiencing pain and illness to putting her head down and plowing though the water with focus and determination and as she came to the shore a group of 5 or so dolphins came to greet her as she swam against the current and to those lovely rocks we all now (the small car to toilet bowl size rocks with teeth).  Everyone on board was amazing as well.  John paddled  with craned neck and gentle encouragement and kept Michele on track.  Susan was a constant voice of encouragement and tried to help Michele to remember that left arm every time she swam too far from the boat.  John Pittman was amazing and his crew as well - steering a course and helping and answering questions.  Laura cooked up drinks in the kitchen and kept careful watch over the feeding schedule -and when tough love was needed she had plenty to serve up.  Forest was a pillar of strength and wisdom and his advice and assistance were absolutely crucial to the success of the swim.

On a personal note - I must admit there were times that I thought this (channel swimming) is a strange sort of sado-masochist recreational phenomenon.  We the crew are the sadists forcing down juices and drink and forcing our friend to continue through pain - and Michele enduring the hard times in order to gain the satisfaction of completion. But in the peaceful moments I could hear the rhythmic splashing of Michele's arms in water and see stars, clouds and birds overhead -and in the intense moments I could feel everyone's hearts pounding with excitement and encouragement and minds spinning through expectations, fears and strategies for both - and I know why challenges such as this one are so enticing.

Now I should try and get some long awaited sleep and perhaps dream of black waters, rocky coasts and an amazing group of wonderful people - all of you.


From Lorraine-Channel Relay Partner:

Just got a quick call from Michele who completed the Catalina swim!! She was super sleepy so we didn't stay on the phone, but for anyone here who hasn't heard, she finished a super hard night -- 18 hours in all with a lot of seasickness. What I gathered was this. Rough sea going over, so some delay in starting to try to get nutrition to stay down, finally making the swim on bananas and easy stuff. Midnight start, with diminishing wind so  there was mostly just chop to contend with rather than big waves. Hardest part was from maybe 3am to sunrise, then the sun came up with blue skies and no fog -- Michele said that was truly wonderful.  Paddling and swimming helped keep her company (don't know who or when) and there was another boat with another swimmer making the crossing as well, nearby I think just at the start.

That's about all we had time to talk about, but Michele sends tons of hugs and I could hear gladness through the fatigue in her voice. She says she dedicated parts of her swim to each of us, her partners in  spirit. And she said for everyone to think about the celebratory dinner on Nov 4th in Dana Point.

All for now -- we'll get the full story when Michele has had some sleep  and gets back into town. But from all of us here on dry land, thanks to everyone for helping her... Emily, Forrest, Laura, John and the rest of the crew who was there.


Donner Lake Results

M18-24 Kevin Platshon 4 1:06:24
W25-29 Anne Young 15 1:28:16
W35-39 Joan Gerber 16 1:29:11
M35-39 Chris Kellerman 7 1:10:44
M40-44 Tim Sheeper 8 1:12:08
W50-54 Jane Stites 2 1:07:13
W50-54 Judy Strauss 4 1:24:33
W50-54 Leslie Platshon 9 1:43:49
M50-54 Ken Plough 19 1:23:33
W55-59 Sue McGlenno 5 1:29:14
Wet Suit Mimi Winsber 11 1:21:00
Wet Suit Greg Gafney 24 2:15:00