HOWTO: Advice from MIMS 2012 for future applicants and swimmers

So let’s say you don’t feel like ploughing through the 5 parts of my MIMS write-up (you should though 🙂 ) but are wondering what recommendations I might have or what lessons I have to impart, or advice to give about MIMS, including the notoriously long application process?

Application Process

  • If you plan to apply, create your profile on months in advance of the application opening in November and start working on completing the various sections. Do it now.
  • Expect some document uploads to fail and having to re-upload them…the next day.
  • When in doubt add more rather than less information.
  • Be accurate in estimating your 1500m time. This is an essential part of getting your wave right and whether you are actually fast enough to complete (for slower swimmers).
  • If you have also booked and been accepted for any other big swim in the following year, note that also.
  • Estimate to spend from four to eight hours on the application process, excluding medical.
  • Get the medical done in plenty of time as you may require an X-ray or electrocardiogram and there is a medical form for your GP to complete.
  • Yes, you do have to write an essay and I have no idea how important it is in the application process. I suspect with absolutely no evidence, it’s a part of a winnowing process as is the kludgy upload procedure. If you give up at a messy long application process, will you complete the swim?
  • I will write a good swim essay for you for the mere cost of a pair of Visio View V200A-mr swim goggles!
  • You have to pay once you are accepted, not before the race.
  • Add second crew AND alternate before the entry date. You are fine with only one crew but the process is not amenable to adding crew later on.
  • If you feel there is any extra information that will help your process (e.g. in my case explaining why my Channel time was slow) put that in.
  • Book your accommodation earlier in the year.  Remember you have already decided and paid for the race so you can save money on accommodation by also paying up front.


Before Race Day and during swim

  • Don’t forget your checklist and feed schedule. It’s not a Channel swim, keep it simple.
  • Go wide and go deep. EDIT: BUT KEEP WITHIN THE SAFETY BOUNDARIES SET OUT IN YOUR SWIM BRIEFING. The primary reason for keeping the swim corralled toward one side is not to be awkward, but to protect the swimmer AND THE KAYAKER from suddenly-arriving cruise ships and to allow for time to evacuate. We always say, you must follow the safety rules. But given any allowed line, the outside is better.
  • 2012 was the first year all swimmers had trackers. These are all available on the website.
  • Make sure you attend the online swimmer, crew and course briefings. Don’t rely on  being able to view the videos later (two of them didn’t work afterwards for me). the briefing and documentation are excellent.
  • Don’t try to buy all your water the night beforehand. We picked up sequential 1.5 litre bottles every time we finished one which made it easier than carrying 10 full bottles back to the hotel.
  • Visit South Cove and the southern tip of Manhattan Island beforehand so you can get a feel for the initial period of the race. A walk over Brooklyn Bridge is recommended.
  • On race morning, don’t trust that the goddamn taxi driver has dropped you at the right pier. Only pay when you are sure or you might be literally 40 blocks away as happened us, (country bumpkins!).
  • If trying to get a taxi to/from Pier 25 / South Cove, don’t try to do it on the adjacent road as that’s a highway. Go one block over.
  • Don’t dismiss the water temperature variability.  There is a big difference in effect between 20/21° C. and 25° C. And a whole world, or at least hemisphere, between 14° C and 25° C. for us cold water swimmers.
  • If you are a cold water swimmer like me, rethink your feed plan. My advice is to decrease your Maxim (carb) feeds and increase your electrolyte feeds. You may also have to increase your volume somewhat from normal.
  • Keep your feeds on the boat cool and out of the sun. An ice cooler is recommended. Yes, this is alien territory for us cold water swimmers. Who ever heard of cooling feeds? 🙂 It will also help your crew keep comfortable to have cool drinks on hand. Temperatures this year were unusually warm, but there’s no reason it won’t happen again.
  • Make sure your crew will be as well protected from sun as from rain or bad weather.  An umbrella works well for sun, a hat is essential.
  • A day on a boat is a long time. Toilet considerations for women are not unimportant.
  • Make sure you have water to hand before the start, even if you have to leave an empty bottle there. Don’t trust the organisers to have water beforehand for you. Drink it all. Better to be over-hydrated than dehydrated.
  • If it is hot and sunny, use more lube than you would expect. Luckily I had used an entire 100mg of Channel grease, almost more than I used for the Channel because I saw no point in carrying it home, and therefore I was less effected by chaffing. (Though I still chaffed!). Some experienced cold-water swimmers were very badly chaffed afterwards for days after their lube had melted off while waiting for the start.
  • As a consequence of all the extra lube and suntan lotion, carry some a cloth or wetwipes to the start. Mind your goggles.
  • Suntan lotion. Then more suntan lotion. If you are a cold water swimmer, then SPF 50 Waterproof for Kids. Ronseal yourself.
  • Your bag is fairly well protected at the start line. You can probably shove a couple of most pre- or post-swim items in there if you like.
  • Don’t expect your pilot to have food even for himself, let alone your crew. Get your crew to bring sufficient food for themselves, the observer and pilot.
  • Feel free to bribe your pilot beforehand.
  • Stuff your waterproof camera in your togs and toss it to the boat at the first feed, so you can get shouts at the start since your crew won’t be around. I regret not doing this.
  • Make sure your crew has a camera. You will want to review the memories of the amazing sights.
  • I spent some time using Google Earth’s Street View to virtually circumnavigate Manhattan Island. But I was still uncertain with some of the key bridges, and the distances down the Hudson. I’d recommend familiarising yourself with more landmarks. It won’t make any difference except to give you a better idea of your location.
  • It’s a race. For most of us just because we are not seeded does not mean we don’t try our best to swim as fast as possible. Throw everything at it. Afterwards it’ll feel great to say to pool swimmers your longest ever race was 28.5 miles and you know you’ve raced. Race for the second or second-last spot if you want.
  • Do Not take the free post-swim massage if you are not used to having immediate post-swim massages. Ciarán & I felt fine beforehand and wrecked immediately afterwards. I am used to deep tissue massage but never immediately after a swim. Wait the usual  couple of days after the swim before having one. (It was also an excuse to try to hard sell me a followup session the next day when I intended to be enjoying myself).
  • Well, yes, I got sick. Four days after MIMS I developed a really nasty stomach bug that lasted over a week, constant nausea, unable to eat. Ciarán didn’t get sick. MIMS doesn’t have a request to hear from any of the swimmers if they are ill, unlike Cork’s Lee Swim. Nothing I could have done about this, it wouldn’t have stopped me, but just so you know. Occam’s Razor tells me it was the river rather than anything else.
  • Even if parts are tough (Start, Hudson), it’s an amazing, unforgettable swim. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself! And the shiny is nice.

lego New York


5 thoughts on “HOWTO: Advice from MIMS 2012 for future applicants and swimmers

  1. Pingback: MIMS 2012 – Part 5 – Hudson River and Finish | LoneSwimmer

  2. Hi Donal,
    your post is spot on, as usual (we get used to this high quality :-)).
    – One of the best ways to get an idea of the MIMS distances, the main landmarks, how B-M-W bridges and the 7 Harlem river bridges look like, what distances to expect etc. is actually to circumnavigate Manhattan Island with Circle Line Cruises at 42nd Str. on Hudson River ( Its a lovely and very informative round trip of that takes 3 hours. It made the swim a lot easier for me, esp. during the long parts of East river and Harlem river.
    – A good way to enjoy the special feeling of swimming under those famous bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan and George Washington bridge in particular) is to swim under them in backstroke mode. If you do so inform your kayaker and crew beforehand so that they do not get worried (as they did in my case).
    – My post-swim massage was fine, I felt good afterwards (not great, but good), so I could not complain about this.
    Best, Thomas


  3. Your posts are amazing and have taught me so much. I am a very new beginning long distance swimmer. My longest races to date have been 7km (twice) and an attempt at a 9km during which I was disqualified and pulled. These are really not long distance in comparision to what you swim but they have been challenging for me. I also swim in cold water (Vancouver, Canada) in the ocean and am looking forward to many more races. Anyway, I just want to thank you so much for your blog. You’re a fantastic writer and your posts are always engaging and funny, and just packed full of useful information! It is vitally important for swimmers such as myself that may not have the resources for long distance swimming at home to be able to access them online. So thank you, thank you, thank you!


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