10 Questions with Ultra Swimmer Jamie Patrick

I was lucky enough some time with the busy Ultra Swimmer, Jamie Patrick for an interview.  If you don’t know much about Jamie, his most recent accomplishment was a 31+ hours, 111-Mile swim in the Sacramento River. Jamie is one of the most inspirational athletes out there, whose goal is to encourage others to go out and experience their own swimming adventures. The following are 10 questions Jamie was kind enough to answer:

1.       First off congratulations on your nomination for the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year. How does it feel to be considered for such a prestigious award?

Honestly, I was taken back. There are so many people doing amazing things in the open water swimming world. It is a great honor to be included with the other nominees. It feels good that people are recognizing my hard work and seeing what I do as an accomplishment.

 2.       How do you balance work, family, and training? You must have spent a lot of time in the water to prepare for all your marathon swims.

It’s tough to accomplish a healthy family, operate a business, and train. I typically train 4:00am-7:00am doing about 13,000-14,000 yards, sometime with another 5,000 yards for my second workout. That has me doing about 15,000-18,000 yards a day. But there are periods in my training where I do less and it is more like an extended master’s workout with about 5,000 yards for the day. The good thing about swimming though is that all you need is goggles, swimsuit, and water. Swimming helps me distress and I feel better and more able to work after a workout. So while it’s tough, it’s worth it.

 3.       Who or what is your inspiration? What keeps you going?

Reading on other people doing amazing swims and following their progress, really inspires me. I constantly want to keep upping what I am doing. I know what I can do, but I don’t know yet what I can’t do. Pushing my limit motivates me to train harder and carefully look at all aspects of long distance swimming.

I gain inspiration from other swimmers around the world, including Bruckner Chase, Penny Palfrey, Diana Niad, Darren Miller, and Karen Rogers. When people do things differently or is their first time doing something like swimming the English Channel the first time, now that really inspires me.

 4.       What training tool do you feel helps you prepare for your swims the most?

The FINIS SwiMP3 is a vital part of my training. It is a tool that I utilize for 3 quarters of my training swims. Though, when it gets closer to one of my swims I taper off my use, as I don’t swim with the SwiMP3 for any of my swims. I love my endless pool because I can just roll out of bed and get in for a swim.

In general I utilize most of FINIS products. They produce great suits and are the cutting edge of swimming technology. When it comes to the sport of swimming their products are far superior to any company, there is no doubt about it. I use everything from snorkel and surge goggles which are great for open water because there is no glare and that’s nice when breathing into the sun. It’s amazing.

 5.       In a recent webinar, you mentioned that you have changed your diet w/ the help of Stacey Sims (Lance Armstrong’s nutritionist). How important was the nutrition aspect in regards to what you are doing?

I think nutrition is the most important aspects of the types of swims I do. After my first Tahoe swim, I realized that I needed to focus on nutrition which helped me out for my Sacramento River swim.

I feed differently than most long distance swimmers. When I feed, I take in solid foods during long distance swims, which helps me balance out protein, electrolytes, sodium, & the like. One thing I’ve changed is the time I take for my feedings. Instead of taking 45 seconds I now take around 2 minutes where I bring my body vertical in the water so my internals shift back. I follow a nutrition plan somewhat like the marathon runners diet, modified specially for me. Getting the right nutrition plan is a great thing for me to ensure that I continue to go longer. Nutrition is something I continue to work on, for it can really be the reason for you to stop your race.

 6.       Your recent major accomplishment was your amazing journey across the Sacramento River, a 111 mile of pure mental, spiritual, and physical endurance. What were types of things were going through your head for those 31+ hours?

I have been working a lot with Jen Schumacher, my sport psychologist. Your mind can go south when you are swimming for so long and being able to control thoughts is crucial. She has helped me develop the tools to push through the pain to pop to the other side. One of the things I do is start with the letter A and work my way though Z, naming all the people I know whose name starts with that letter and say a couple of things about the person. This is a great tool that takes mind off the pain and numbness. Of course I also think about finishing. It is something I visualize when I am doing my training swim.

 7.       During your Sacramento 111-mile swim, how important was your support crew that accompanied you?

I couldn’t do these things without my core crew. I’ve been with the same crew for about 3 years and they take care of everything for me, besides the actual act of swimming. Having these people support me it’s amazing. I have a cook, communication people, and those who alternate rowing beside me during my swims. Mentally these people know me. They know when I’m mentally not there and when I’m just complaining. Essentially it comes down to the crew if I finish.

 8.       You’ve developed the Adventure Swim Contest. What’s the contest about? What compelled you to create a contest like this one?

I have been lucky enough to be able to experience the adventure swims and all that I have gotten out of the training preparations. I wanted to help someone else live their adventure. I thought it would be pretty cool to help out the people who wanted to live life at water level. I am hoping to do it again next year.

 9.       Where is your favorite swim spot?

Hidden Valley Lake up above Napa. I swim there 3 weekends a month. It was actually the reason why I have a second home there.

 10.   So what’s next? What’s on the agenda for your next swimming adventure?

I have 2 things on the horizon. In August 2012 plan on swimming the Tahoe 360. It is a swim that consists of me swimming the complete perimeter, a total of 68 miles, in Lake Tahoe, CA. It is the longest swim longest swim I’ve attempted and I plan it taking approximately 38 hours to complete. For more information on my swim visit www.Thetahoe360.com

In 2013, I am also planning to eclipse the 100 mile mark, without a current helping me like in my 111 Sacramento River swim. I still have to determine the location but it could possibly be in international waters.

Jamie is an athlete that is an excellent example of the saying “There is nothing you can’t do, if you put your mind to it”. FINIS is proud call Jamie a FINIS athlete and we fully support Jamie on his journey to reach the unthinkable. For more information on Jamie and what he does you can visit his website (www.jamiepatrick.com) along with following FINIS on Twitter and Facebook for real time updates on Jamie and his swimming adventures.