By Emily Sampl
BOULDER, Colorado, March 8. FORTY to sixty degree water temperatures, rough waves and murky water can be enough to turn anyone away from open water swimming. Not Patti Bauernfeind.
Bauernfeind began competing in triathlons at age 25, but after several running-related injuries, she decided to focus more on the swimming portion of the event. After entering and completing the Alcatraz Invitational Swim, a 1.25-mile trek from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco, Bauernfeind fell in love with open water swimming. Cold temperatures and rough conditions are anything but a turn-off for her.
"I am most proud of the fact that I jumped from a ferry, in the dark, into 49 degree water and swam in the San Francisco Bay to Aquatic Park without a wetsuit," she said. "I had to overcome my fear of swimming in water in which I couldn't see what was below me."
This year, Bauernfeind is shooting for even bigger things in open water. In July, she plans to attempt an 11-mile solo swim across Lake Tahoe at the Trans Lake Tahoe Relay event. After competing as part of a relay in the event last year, she decided to take on the challenge individually. Just a few months out from the swim, Patti feels that her training is progressing nicely.
"I started training several months ago," she said. "The challenge has been determining the right training program and schedule for this distance. Rich Thornton is my Masters coach, and he's crafted a program that I have been following."
In addition, Bauernfeind has been working to make her stroke more efficient, as conserving energy is key in such a long race.
"My goal is to finish the swim in 5 hours," she said. That's roughly a pace of 27-minute miles. Whether she accomplishes her goal or not, Patti Bauernfeind will certainly be an inspiration to all.