Salt Lake native prepares for big swim in London
Salt Lake native Gordon Gridley will be on the banks of England's Shakespeare Bay in mid-August, waiting for the sign to jump in.
Clad only in a Speedo, cap and goggles, Gridley will attempt to swim the 21 miles from the White Cliffs of Dover to Cap Gris-Nez, France.
The waters can be unforgiving, but he has been training for three years for the opportunity to conquer one of sport's most challenging adventures: swimming across the English Channel.
"I am excited to take part in the triple crown of open water swimming," Gridley said. "With the Catalina Crossing and the swim around Manhattan, swimming the Channel is going to be a great challenge."
A freestyle swimmer for West High, Gridley has spent the past three years in pools and Utah's reservoirs in preparation for the Channel crossing. Like most open water swimmers, Gridley started out as a triathlete.
"I found out that I was really bad at the running," Gridley said. "So, I put my bike up in the garage and focused on swimming."
Highlights of Gridley's open water swims include crossing Bear Lake's 19.8 miles, swimming from Antelope Island to Fremont Island and qualifying for the English Channel by going from Blackrock to White Rock Bay (21.7 miles) in 10 hours, 59 minutes.
For most Utah residents, the Great Salt Lake is a barren body of water more known for brine shrimp and unique smells. For Gridley, the rough waters and salt make it the perfect practice lake for crossing the Channel.
"The English Channel is going to be choppy," Gridley said. "The Great Salt Lake is the choppiest lake around. Moreover, it's a great place to swim."
Supporting Gridley during his grueling swim will be Salt Lake resident Josh Green. Gridley and Green revived the Great Salt Lake Open Water Marathon in 2010. Green is allowed to swim alongside Gridley every third hour in the long crossing.
"I'll be pacing him and giving encouragement," Green said. "It's good having somebody in the water to point out the currents."
The grueling swim requires not just adequate energy bars and fresh water from the support boat but honest coaching.
"If I am falling behind in my time, I'll need Josh to tell me to pick it up," Gridley said. "I'm counting on him to push me back to my normal pace or pull me out of the water."
Jim Hubbard, founder of the Deer Creek Open Water Marathon, is confident Gridley will swim to the sands of France.
"He's a swimming fool," Hubbard said. "He's the kind of guy who can power through a challenge like this."
Utahn finds joy in open water swimming
Gridley writes a blog about his open water swims at http://www.gordsswimlog.blogspot.com.
He once swam 22.73 miles in a pool in 11 hours, 15 minutes.
He holds the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame record for swimming from South Antelope Island to Blackrock (8.12-miles) in 3:24:37.
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