Patti

TAMPA BAY, Florida. April 15. SHE has gotten zapped before. Badly. Over and over again.

The jellyfish in Monterey Bay were relentless and innumerable on her previous swims.

The intermingling of the jellyfish tentacles and Patti Bauernfeind's arms and legs were just too much.

She had to get out. Defeated by venom.

But like a swimmer perfecting their stroke, Bauernfeind went back to the drawing boards. She has to find something that will relieve the pain she endured in Monterey Bay. For her next ocean swim, she will use Ocean Care Solutions' Man o War kit at the 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim. The reigning Lake Tahoe world record holder has done the training, now she wants the protection.

1. You are known as a cold water swimmer. Why are you taking your talents to a warm-water venue?
Bauernfeind: Although I enjoy solo swims, I also enjoy competitive swims. A solo swims are unique since you compete with yourself while adapting to the elements. Competitive swims push you as well but its often in surprising ways. I like the dynamic nature of competitive swims.

2. You are known for swimming right smack into tons of jellyfish. Are you a jelly magnet?
Bauernfeind: I hope not! I prefer to be a dolphin magnet.

3. You keep running into jellies, but you don't stop. Is there something you can do?
Bauernfeind: Just keep swimming. I let me crew know about each sting so they can keep count and know what's happening in the water. I don't dwell on the stings. That would waste energy.

4. Do you have scars from your jellyfish stings in Monterey Bay?
Bauernfeind: I don't have any scars from the Pacific Nettle jellies.

5. Can you explain how a jellyfish sting feels?
Bauernfeind: Being stung by the Pacific Nettles feels like having a thick piece of wire that was pulled from hot coals hit your skin. I was stung across my mouth and quickly learned to keep it shut for the rest of the swim! In the cold water of the Pacific, the sting doesn't last that long. The toxin build up is much more of an issue than the stings themselves.

6. When you see a jellyfish now, what comes to mind?
Bauernfeind: That they are beautiful and that I am in their environment so I don't want to harm them. The best jellyfish to see are the ones that are peacefully gliding five feet below you.

7. Why don't you wear a protective swimsuit — wouldn't it make your swims so much easier?
Bauernfeind: I prefer to swim by English Channel rules. Jellyfish have always been present, but the explosion of jellyfish population is a fairly recent phenomenon. The presence of jellies is no different than fluctuating water temperature or weather conditions. These are all things that we contend with when we swim. Having a solution that addresses the jelly toxin is key.

8. How do you balance work and family with your tough swims?
Bauernfeind: It's not easy, but I have wonderful friends and family who support me. In some ways, I'm more productive at work since I have a hobby that I love.

9. You also swam in the Red Triangle as a relay swimmer last year and recently as a pace swimmer for Joseph Locke. Aren't you afraid of Great White Sharks?
Bauernfeind: I get asked this question a lot. I respect the Great White sharks, but I don't fear them when I am in the water. I read Devils Teeth by Susan Casey which is a great book about the Farallon Islands and shark research. I learned a lot about great whites. I think that they more you are informed about their behavior, the less afraid you become. A Great White is not interested in a skinny swimmer compared to an elephant seal. Of all the attacks to date, they have been inquisitive in nature. There is no doubt that a bite can be serious, but is that any different from a car accident?

10. There isn't much you can do for Great White Sharks. What about jellies?
Bauernfeind: I work with some jellyfish experts to keep tabs on population trends especially in Monterey Bay. We try to plan the route around the jellyfish. However, they move swiftly with the wind and currents so it's not an exact science. Now that I have an allergic reaction to the jellyfish toxin, Ocean Care Solutions is really important to minimize the effect of the toxin.

11. Why are you so confident in Ocean Care Solutions?
Bauernfeind: I trust the research that has gone into their solutions. I will have their jellyfish kits with me during my swims this year including the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and the San Francisco to Santa Barbara relay swim.

Courtesy of Open Water Source

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