Keith Bell notches 11,111th day in a row of swimming

Keith Bell notches 11,111th day in a row of swimming

Milt Hein, left, manager of Deep Eddy Pool, stands with Keith Bell, right, who just logged his 11,111th day in a row of swimming. Family photo

Chalk up swim number 11,111 in a row for Keith Bell.

The retired Austin sports psychologist and former University of Texas swim coach slipped into the cool waters of Deep Eddy Pool this morning and knocked out 111 laps, continuing a streak he started more than 30 years ago.

You could call Bell a swimming enthusiast. That would be putting it mildly. He usually swims between 4,000 and 6,000 yards – or between 3.5 and 4.5 miles – each day, although some days he logs more than that.

He prefers Deep Eddy, which is filled with spring water, because the water is cooler than at most other pools around Austin. (“But don’t go there, it’s terrible,” he says, chuckling.) Sometimes, he swims in the lake. Monday, he kicked upstream on the San Marcos River, in a current so brisk he only moved forward an inch or so every minute.

Keith Bell, right, closes to lane line, swims laps with his wife, Sandy Neilson-Bell. Family photo

Bell’s current streak began in April 1989. 

“I wasn’t thinking about a streak, I was just swimming every day,” Bell says. “On my 60thbirthday, we had a big party and (my son) Bridger did a quiz about me and included how many days in a row had I swum. It was 6,000 or 7,000. Sometime after that it, occurred to me that I was closing in on 10,000 days.”

To mark that milestone, Bell swam 10,000 yards (that’s about 6 miles) and raised nearly $10,000 for charities that provide swim lessons. A portion of the money specifically went to adults, because Bell believes that if parents know how to swim safely, they’ll encourage their children to swim, too. And swimming, he notes, can enrich almost anyone’s life, no matter their age.

Bell swims whether he’s feeling great or not, although he rarely gets sick.

“If I don’t feel well, I just go and swim a couple of thousand (yards) easy,” he says. “It’s like going for a walk.”

Bell swam at Kenyon College in Ohio. He served as an assistant coach of the men’s swim team at Texas, then coached the first intercollegiate women’s team there. He’s also coached U.S. Masters programs and high school teams. He and his wife Sandy Neilson-Bell, a former Olympian, currently run a swim program for adults in Austin.

Does he plan to quit swimming anytime soon?

“Uh, no,” he says, like that’s the silliest question anyone could ever ask. “It’s a really nice part of the day for me.”

 

***

Deep Eddy Pool celebrated its 100thbirthday in 2016. Here’s an article I wrote about that. https://www.statesman.com/NEWS/20160903/Deep-Eddy-Pool-celebrates-100th-birthday-this-summer

 

 

About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam

One Austin paddler pulled more than 500 balls from Lady Bird Lake

One Austin paddler pulled more than 500 balls from Lady Bird Lake

Geoff Waters has collected more than 500 balls from Lady Bird Lake since March. Photo courtesy Geoff Waters

Geoff Waters has scooped 534 balls from Lady Bird Lake in the last six months.

That’s a lot of balls, and most of them – 402, to be exact – were tennis balls that probably escaped the clenches of a dog playing fetch from the shore.

Waters paddles the lake frequently while training for endurance canoe races like the Texas Water Safari and the Yukon River Quest. He got in the habit of plucking errant orbs from the water back in March. He and another local paddler, Mike Gordan, turned it into something of a game, filling their boats with balls as they logged laps up and down the lake.

“I had been seeing a lot as I was going around the lake but couldn’t get to shore to get them in my skinny 19-foot boat,” he said. He took a smaller boat out and in one day alone raked in 192 balls.

Others in the paddling community saw what they were doing and started collecting balls, too.

The vast majority of the balls were tennis balls. Photo courtesy Geoff Waters

This week, Waters hauled his load of balls to the curb for large trash pickup. Besides the tennis balls, he had collected 38 ping pong balls, 18 store-bought dog balls, 14 Nerf balls, 14 softball or baseballs, eight bobbers, seven racquet balls, three Whiffle balls, one croquet ball, one Christmas tree ornament and 28 other miscellaneous balls.

And it’s not just balls.

“I only take pictures of the balls because it’s become a little game, but for every ball I pick up, I’m usually picking up two plastic water bottles or other pieces of trash,” Waters said.

He’d like to see others do the same.

“It’s just a mindset of picking trash out of the water,” he said. “If you see something floating on the water, you snag it.”

Better yet, don’t let the balls find their way into the lake in the first place.

“Hey, quit treating tennis balls as something disposable to just leave in the lake,” he said. “If Sparky’s getting tired, don’t make that last throw.”

 

About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam

The Trail Foundation’s fund-raiser, Twilight on the Trail, set for Nov. 3

The Trail Foundation’s fund-raiser, Twilight on the Trail, set for Nov. 3

This year’s Twilight on the Trail fund-raiser and (semi) gala, is set for Nov. 3 at the Four Seasons. Photo courtesy The Trail Foundation.

I plod down its gravel expanse every weekend, and wheel a bike along its curves and bridges at least a couple of times a week.

Like many folks who live in Austin, I think of the Butler Hike and Bike Trail as an extension of my backyard. I stop on the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge to admire a sunset, look down the tunnel of green when I’m running alongside Barton Creek and use it as a vantage point to take in incredible views of the ever-changing Austin skyline.

I’m not alone. The trail gets more than 2.6 million visits every year.

On Nov. 3, The Trail Foundation will celebrate its work in protecting, maintaining and enhancing that trail at the Twilight on the Trail celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Not familiar with the foundation’s work? Credit them for creation of the boardwalk underneath Interstate 35, the observation deck below the Ann Richards-Congress Avenue Bridge and native plantings all along the 10-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake. Now in its 16thyear, the organization needs funds for its next round of projects, including improvements at Drake Bridge (First Street), a new trailhead at Rainey Street and a restroom at Festival Beach.

That’s what the Nov. 3 event is all about. Dress is trail style – dresses or suits on top and running shoes on the bottom. (I stepped out in a dress and sneakers last year.) The party begins on the lawn behind the hotel and moves into the ballroom for dinner, drinks and entertainment.

The event is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3 at The Four Seasons Hotel Austin, 98 San Jacinto Boulevard. Tables and a limited number of individual tickets are on sale at https://thetrailfoundation.org/twilight-on-the-trail/ .

 

 

 

å

About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam

I wrenched my back and I’m bad at recovery

I wrenched my back and I’m bad at recovery

She’s down! Pam LeBlanc, passed out in bed this morning after wrenching her back water skiing. Chris LeBlanc photo

Things I don’t do well:

  1. Sit.
  2. Stay.
  3. Heal.

This morning’s water ski run didn’t go as planned.
The water looked smooth and almost glassy up by the Pennybacker Bridge when I zipped up my life vest, yanked on my neoprene calf sleeve (to stop bruising from water spray, which is a real thing) and slipped on my slalom ski just before 7 a.m. today.

Chris hit the gas and I popped up – and almost immediately dropped the rope, thanks to a sharp jab of pain in my lower back.

Here I am water skiing last week. Today’s run didn’t go as well. Chris LeBlanc photo

I’ve been covering adventure and fitness for more than a decade, so I consider it something of a miracle that I haven’t wound up injured more often. I can count my battle wounds, a lathat scene in “Jaws” where the boat captain shows all his scars, on one hand: A broken wrist sustained while horseback riding when I was a kid, plantar fasciitis and a pulled calf muscle sustained while training for a marathon, and a weird thing that happened to the inside of my knee while researching a rope swing story a few years ago.

But I can only walk short stretches – hobbling is more like it – and am headed back to my bed with a heating pad as soon as I finish this post.

But there’s an upside to this. It reminds me how lucky I’ve been thus far to stay healthy and upright, and what a role physical activity plays in keeping me happy.

Onward!

 

 

 

About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam

It’s 101 degrees, but I’m planning my backcountry cocktails

It’s 101 degrees, but I’m planning my backcountry cocktails

This kit containing everything I need to make cocktails on my next hut skiing trip, arrived at my doorstep Friday. Pam LeBlanc photo

Yes, the thermostat at my house is currently registering 101 degrees, but it’s never too hot to think about what cocktails might warm you up on your next backcountry ski trip.

Just today, a care package arrived from my friends at Breckenridge Distillery in Breckenridge, Colorado, where I traveled earlier this year to celebrate the bourbon, gin and vodka-maker’s 10thanniversary. (Read that article at https://www.austin360.com/entertainmentlife/20181127/when-in-colorado-dont-miss-breckenridge-distillery)

I wiped the sweat from my brow as I unloaded a full-sized bottle of bourbon (!!), a collapsible flask, and an assortment of mini bottles of booze and accoutrements to help me prepare sophisticated cocktails on my next hut skiing adventure.

Here’s the gorgeous Sisters Hut where I stayed in January. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

I love the peace and quiet of hut skiing, which gets you off busy downhill runs and into the woods, where you essentially hike up a mountain on special skis, and hang out in a cabin or hut, warming up with cocktails.

I’ve done it several times, and this past year stayed at the brand new Sisters Cabin near Breckenridge. (Other favorites are Artist and Opus cabins near Ouray. Magnificent!)

Austyn Dineen packing it in during our girls’ back country ski trip in January. Pam LeBlanc photo

I’ve always just packed a little straight whiskey for those adventures, but the folks at Breckenridge showed me last February, when they set up a bar in the snow outside of Sisters Cabin, that it’s easy to do one better.

Below are several suggested recipes. They work best in snowy environments.

Cheers!

 

Snowball Old Fashioned

Ingredients:

2 ounces Breckenridge Bourbon

.25 ounces maple syrup

Dash of bitters

Orange zest

Dehydrated cherries

 

Combine all ingredients and stir. Add snowball to your cocktail. (Pack a mini bottle of bitters. Recycle your orange peels and use berries from your trail mix.) Optional: Smoke using a fire log.

 

Hot Smoked Cider

Ingredients:

1.5 ounces Breckenridge Spiced Whiskey

Apple cider packet

6 ounces hot water

6 ounces cinnamon stick

Ignite cinnamon stick and smoke the glass while preparing cocktail. Pour ingredients into smoked glass.

 

Backcountry Tea

Ingredients:

1 ounce Breckenridge vodka

6 ounces hot water

Teako green tea

Honey stick

Combine all ingredients and stir. Pour honey from stick into your cocktail.

About Pam

I’m Pam LeBlanc. Follow my blog to keep up with the best in outdoor travel and adventure. Thanks for visiting my site.

Where is Pam?

Click to open a larger map

Follow Pam