Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Starting Over... Despite the fact that this is Swim #8!!, it still feels like each year we are starting over.  So, this year, as we slog through the planing phases, we already have more than enough swimmers committed now - a month in advance. That has never happened - usually we are filling up the roster near the end.  And our total of 16 swimmers represents only one new face, Larry Arreguin, who has been asking for a year to join us.  Almost everyone from the last several years is returning!! 

But, we do need a boat. Usually we have more than enough boats and need to hustle to fill them with swimmers.  this year?  We have one boat that will carry 8 swimmers. We need one more that can carry 8 more swimmers. And we could use a Seadoo as well. They are absolutely awesome to have along..  If you know of anyone with a boat who would like to join this very loyal group of swimmers, please have them contact us. It would make a huge difference...
And there is another difference this year as well - Fares Ksebati and Sara Franklin are both stepping up to help out.  Fares is now officially helping with the special media and fundraising - while Sara is quarterbacking the effort.  We are at the point where Mike Stevens and I can no longer do it all.  We have had a great deal of help in the past, most notably Bruce Babiarz on PR and Dave Draper on arranging food, sponsors, etc., but having Fares and Sara on board is a huge relief.

I believe Fares may be taking over this blog in the future. So, hopefully the quality of the writing will pick up;-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


It feels better and better every year!!! 14 swimmers, 2 boats,2 Jet Skis and a kayak made it all the way from Harsen's Island to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club in under 8 hours.  The time wasn't our fastest, but we're all a year older now, so our handicap is growing.  Congrats to Watty Bernard for swimming the entire distance. The rest of us contributed an average of something like 4 miles each in our relay across the water.  I did manage to hit the average of 4 miles, in spite of a bum shoulder and a dislocated elbow (4 weeks ago).  There were a number of injuries the day of the event as well - Glen Fayolle cutting his hand - BEFORE WE EVEN STARTED - on zebra mussels on the harbor bottom while diving to retrieve a pair of prescription glasses... then Tobias smacked his nose on the back of the Jet Ski climbing out of the water.

This group just keeps getting better - every year we hang to most of the folks from the previous year and add a few.  Luckily, we are adding younger folks - who seem to share a common link in that they were either alumni or friends of alumni of the Wayne State swim team. This is thanks to Derek Weaver, who was one of our original group, and who set the pace for recruiting new members. Now if we could just get Derek back in the water... So, this year we welcomed Kirky, Caty, Tobias, and Cameron to our "Swimmer's alumni"...

  • First, thank you to our generous donors.  Without you, there is no event.
  • Next, thank you to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club for hosting us, but more importantly, for putting up with us, for providing their facilities, and for generally acting like the class act they are.  Everybody there is gracious, from the Club Management to the pool crew and to the security guys.  
  • Thanks to Brownie's on the Water (just past10 mile on Jefferson Ave) for again hosting our "post-event" dinner.  We have begun looking forward to Brownie's almost as much as the swim itself.
  • To "SWIMSPRAY" for sponsoring our social media work as well as giving us our swim caps, and just for their support in general - including the article they posted in their company newsletter. 
  • Finally, thanks to Premier Protein for the AWESOME chocolate energy drinks. We have a tendency to fight over any that are left over after the swim. Honestly, love these things - I am drinking one right now...
 And finally - thanks to Mike Stevens at Corporate Fleet Services in Detroit.  Every year he supports us by bringing his boat.  This year he brought 2 boats!!! And he even let me captain one of them while he swam!!  Hard to express how grateful we all are to you, Mike. 

Thanks again to all who were involved.  As Greg McDuffee - one of our swimmers - said yesterday - "I look forward to this more than Christmas". Amen - so do I...

More later along with a link to more pictures, etc. 
Ric Geyer


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tomorrow is the day...

It's TOMORROW!!!  It seems to come back so quickly each year.  Just went down to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, stood on the docks and looked off to the NNE to see if I could spot Harsen's Island.  It was clear today, but apparently too hazy to see the Island. The lighthouse you can make out is the St Clair Lighthouse.  Our destination is several miles past this lighthouse and several miles (at least) to the north... So I guess at 14 miles you start to deal with curvature of the earth... A scary thought,given we are going to swim that distance tomorrow.
A young store clerk asked me if me if I had heard of the guy last year who swam from about where we are starting, and went all the way to downtown Detroit - dragging a rowboat full of bricks.  The problem I have with her asking me about him is that continuing to talk about that episode will only egg him on.  And the last thing we need is another load of bricks moved from Harsen's Island to downtown Detroit.  Personally, I thought he should have dragged a rowboat full of bathtub gin from Canada to Detroit.  At least that would have been historically relevant.
So, we're off.  Up at 6:00am - at the docks at the Yacht Club at 7am, then we're enroute by 7:45.  Arrive at Harsen's Island and in the water by 8:30...  More to come...
PS. I think the elbow I dislocated about 4 weeks ago feels a LOT better.  Swam for the first time in 12 days today; 3/4 of a mile - seemed like it might be OK. Hurt a little, but nothing really serious. So we'll see how far I can get tomorrow. If I can get 3 miles, I will consider it a success...   Oh, and don't tell my doctor... She would not be pleased..

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gearing up - and wearing down...

So, about two weeks ago I was trying to move a 300 pound counterbalance used to anchor a portable basketball hoop my son and I were putting up. my son.  I couldn't move it at first, so I positioned my feet, leaned directly over it, found a couple of hand holds, and really leaned into it..  That is, until I heard three distinct popping sounds in my right elbow.  I immediately released my grip - a searing pain went through my right arm - seemingly centered on my forearm. I thought it was broken, but was able to move it again within about 10 minutes.  The doctor says there are no broken bones or torn ligaments, but I am disturbed by the fact that this is the first time in my adult life that I have been injured by simply "trying to move something"...

So, that's my current excuse, and the reason that though I was training on earnest  up to 2 weeks ago, I have not been able to swim since.  Last year our 'injury to swimmer ratio' was nearly 1.5 to 1, with the old guard shouldering most of that burden... This year I think we're down closer to 1 to 1, so basically, we're in great shape...

More later...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

2014 - The Year of the Waterspouts?

OK -
2011 was the year of the flies (and the 103 temperatures).
2102 was the year we got pounded all day by 3-4 waves.
2013 was relatively calm - nice weather - great group - great time. 
2014?? Let's hope we don't have another one of these - here is the waterspout sighted on Lake St Clair on July 3rd.

So, as of right now, we have 14 swimmers, one boat, two jet skis and a kayak...  We are certain another boat will materialize - which is good, because we need one to get everyone to the drop off point and cannot take 14 people on our current boat.

We have commitments from all of our original 2008 group - and the majority of folks who have joined us since.  This year will start off the same as before - hopefully we'll carry the current south near the mouth of the freighter channel - last year we covered the first mile in less than 15 minutes - aided by a solid current coming out of the north channel headed for the Detroit River in the south.  This is great for a couple of miles, but then we turn and cross the fat part of the lake - and if the winds are as they normally are, they are coming directly at us from the southwest.  This anomaly cuses 2-3 foot choppy waves that are hard to time, with the result that we get pounded for almost the entire 8 hours.  Generally, everything dies down around noon, and we get some break from the wind and the waves, but generally, it feels like we're working against Mother Nature the entire time.

The 9 Mile Tower is out beacon for much of the swim - we can spot it right at the start, but yo can't see it from the water for another couple of hours.  Then when you do spot it, you can swim directly at it for 2-3 hours, and when you look up again, it looks as if it has not changed in size.  It is a huge character builder...

But when I think about what we're doing out here, the trip gets a little easier. Rickie is such a trooper - he cranks that vest up every morning and every evening for 30 minutes - plus he does his nebulizer breathing treatments twice a day as well.  I was trying to imagine how it must be to be in his shoes - 12 was tough enough for me with out having to put up with CF at the same time.  But he does a great job - sometimes I wish I could do it for him - it doesn't seem fair - and then I remember the "life isn't fair speech" that I have given him so many times.  Still you wonder exactly how this "gift" will work out for him.  How will it change his life?  How will it affect his quality of life?  Someone once said that she was "glad it was Rickie" when she was told he had cf.  She went on to say that her son would "never be able to handle it", and that Rickie "was the only kid" she knew "who had the bearing and the strength to put his shoulder down and pound through it."  It was actually a wonderful, if not bittersweet compliment.

Still, I wonder how I could have been carrying this thing tucked inside my DNA without ever knowing it. Let's hope we can leverage our health information so at least we'll know the risks we face.

Looking forward to another wonderful morning crossing - the boat ride across the lake to the drop off point at Harsen's Island before the swim is exhilarating.  It is unique for me - I don't have this feeling at any other time of the year - except the morning of the swim, sitting up front in the bow- watching the water and the waves, and thinking about what is to come.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

We made it!!!

First, to all of you who supported us, sponsored us, captained our boats, swam with us - we thank you.  In today's crazy, self-centered world it is refreshing to see the commitment of folks getting together to support a cause. And it is even more exciting to be a part of that effort.

Our destination is barely visible directly behind the boat...
On our way to the yacht club, at 6:45am, the sky was gorgeous - the sun was a brilliant red and the reflections on the light clouds looked spectacular.  The old sailing quote came to mind, "red sky in morn, sailor's take warn, red sky at night, sailor's delight", but it didn't seem to hold true today - the weather was perfect. There was almost no wind, the temperatures were ideal and we never spotted on insect of any type. Conditions were ideal.

We left the dock at a few minutes after 8am with 2 boats, 15 swimmers and one inflatable Zodiak. We arrived at Gull Island at 8:25 and were in the water at 8:37. We started on the east side of Gull Island this time, which partly explains the fast time.  We caught the old channel current for a mile or so, then turned west to aim at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. The winds that we expected from our previous 6 swims never materialized.  It was nicely wind free...

With two boats this year it was easier - if you were tired, you had a couple of choices - though one boat typically stayed with the faster swimmers, and the other with the rest of us...

Typically, a swimmer will start out and do as much as he/she can, then get out and rest for a half an hour to an hour, depending on the swimmer.  Swim another couple of miles or so, and repeat. It would stay like this until the end.  The final mile or so is the hardest, even though it is so close to the finish.  A slight westerly wind had kicked up, we were tired, and you have the frustration of seeing the tower at the Yacht Club appear close, but then not get larger until the very end, when it seems to suddenly loom over you...  The faster swimmers finished at about 3pm off the pier at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. We met immediately afterwards at Brownie's on the River for our celebratory meal.  Great day - in total we swam just under 100 miles.

Our rookies this year were Casey Browning, who swam the entire course, Watty Bernard, who swam 95% of the course, the last 10% of it with leg cramps; and finally, Vince Brennan - who stepped up and not only swam, but also captained the second chase boat.

More later - pictures to follow. Look for us on Facebook...

By the way, if Paypal is not your thing - you are not alone...  Several people have asked for an address for donations.

Ric Geyer
105 Swanton Hill Ct.
Decatur, Georgia  30030

I moved down here 2 years ago, to follow Rickie, who moved down here with his mother.  Both Rickie and I miss Detroit (and Grosse Pointe) and get back a couple of times each year.  The news from the private sector in Detroit is fabulous - even if the political news is less than stellar...

All the best


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

6 more days - almost there...

OK. It's Tuesday evening.  We are now down to 6 days before we go...  It looks like we're up to two boats and 13+ swimmers?  These are both records - this thing continues to grow.  Every year, we get a couple of new folks, and mostly people just keep coming back. This really is a great day - one of those "pause and reflect" days.  A time to remember each successive year - what you were doing the year before, etc. A milestone of sorts for each of the swimmers. 

Here's our schedule. At 7am (or so) we arrive at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (GPYC), who have been our gracious hosts for 6 years in a row now.  Special thanks to Fred Mihalik, the pool facility manager and a renowned swim coach.  He has always been there to help us,m and we appreciate it.  We're generally in the boat by 7:30, and headed to Harsen's Island. The feeling of the boat at speed, smell of the water, the excitement of the swim and just having a chance to meet up with everyone again makes this one of my favorite parts of the whole day.

We're in the water by about 8am.  B
y about 8:30 we're between the South Channel lighthouses and heading for the open bay.  At this point you can begin to make out the tower at Nine Mile Road. This the tower that will look exactly the same size after swimming for 4 more hours - at times it is maddening...

And so it goes - for 8 hours... It isn't as hard as you might think - although when the waves are coming directly at you, it gets old pretty quickly. It is just a grind it out kind of day, but it is invigorating and a day I look forward to every year.  

FINALLY, somewhere around 4:00 or so we are nearing the shore. When you are beginning to get close, it is tantalizing - it looks as if you could sprint the rest of the way, until you realize there is still a mile and half to go... But toward 5pm, we see the following site from the water - the Tower at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.

And then its off to Brownie's on the River for drinks and dinner, and a place to sit down and relax.