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270 Channing Way, #3
San Rafael, CA 94903


This site serves as introduction of Suzie Dods as a swim teacher and coach, provides her qualifications as a swimmer and teacher, and provides a summary of her offerings and swim philosophy.


Float-a-palooza 2016

Sometimes, well a lot of times, you just need to let go and be a kid again. Although this time a kid with a giant floaty toy. A kid with a floating piece of pizza or a blow up "flip flop". 

Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure to witness one of the  most spectacular days on SF Bay in recent memory. I was not  a direct participant but the smiles that are still coming from my memory ot it will last me long into the depths of winter.

I really can't describe what it's like to see a flotilla of giant blow up float toys being towed into Aquatic Park or "adults" who luckily do not always act like adults with these mega-watt smiles on their faces. I will leave you to enjoy the videos taken by Kim Howard and please.. let's all remember to be kids more often.

Where it all started.. Lake Tahoe

Suzie Dods

This past Friday I had the chance to crew for a complete stranger on a cross Tahoe swim.

As I drove up to Truckee, I kept thinking back to when I swam Tahoe with the infamous Dave Kenyon as my pilot in a little rib, starting at 6AM for the width and a 1AM start for the Dollar Point to Reagan's Beach. I remember my dad being so proud, me being so scared and at the finish I looked like a wet rag, worn out and all wrinkled. Arriving at Tahoe Keys at 2AM, the stars just blazing in the night sky was wonderful!

But what really struck me , again, was the fact that my dad was about  the age I am now, about 50 (plus). And how quickly time goes by. Those were good times, I was young ,oh so young and had no idea what I was doing ( not much has changed!) and he was young, his family just beginning to grow up and out of the house and his practice making a living for him and my mom.

I think he would be glad to see me going back to the beginning, seeing it from a different perspective and hopefully helping others along the way. 

Tahoe is a beautiful lake and will forever hold a soft spot in my heart and memories.

I am glad that there are more and more people taking it on as a challenge and glad to see that there are people like Tom Linthicum taking on the challenge of piloting and helping to organize crossings. 

Full Circle

Suzie Dods

As some of you know, I hated swim lessons as a young child. I have a  very clear memory of me crying in the back seat of my grandparents' car, of cold water and blue tile and  being told to "jump in" when I had absolutely zero desire to do so..

I have taught children before, in my 20's as a real live coach of a  Marin Swim League team. I taught the children who were beginners but were water safe. They could jump in the deep pool and make it across, either under water or some sort of semblance of freestyle on top of the water.I had a good time and one of the things I truly focussed on was not timing them when they competed. I cared about how they swam and making sure that they knew how a swim meet worked and that they were responsible for getting themselves to the blocks and knowing what events they were participating in. There were lots of laughs and hugs and giggles. 

One lesson I particularly remember was losing my voice. I had 3  , 30 minute sessions , 5 days a week with anywhere from 15-20 children. My first thought was.. " oh crap, what am I going to do?". Well, I showed up and whispered... and it was a real whisper... "I have no voice, I really need you to pay attention and if I raise my hand, it means 'please be quiet'.

They were superstars. It was so quiet that the main coach actually came over and asked if everything was ok!  Lesson? You don't need to yell to make your voice heard.

Skip forward to yesterday. 

I swim sporadically at a high school pool on Sundays. We get two lanes at most, but it's two hours and sometimes I can get some decent yardage in. The rest of the pool is water polo players and in the shallow end are children and some pre-teens who are taking lessons to become water safe. Not necessarily to be on a swim team but to be able to  make it to the side under their own power and be able to float if they fall in. 

Last week , I spoke to the co-ordinator and said I'd like to try. I was kind of scared because it had been so long but I figured I couldn't mess them up too badly.  I chose ( got assigned ?) the one young boy who was not at all water safe, everyone else was practicing going back and forth and jumping off the side.

This young man had the guts to tell me ( he was about 6) that he was "really scared'. And he gripped my neck like a vise at first. At one point his arms were floating above his head but he had his legs wrapped around my waist like a vise grip. Plus, he was shaking like a leaf. No cap for him! 

Well, after about 35 min we had made some progress and there were some smiles as well. The last thing i had him do was repeat what we had started out with.. jumping from the top step to the 2nd step to the 3rd etc. Then from the bottom step to the bottom of the pool, about 3 1.2 feet deep so his head was still above water, bouncing under the water and then back to the step.

He did it and then I said.. yay , good job, out you get, go get warm. 

Best words all day... " Can I do it again"?

So.. full circle... I am teaching children again.

And teaching myself. 


24 Hour Relay Makes Its 3rd Appearance

Suzie Dods

It's been an interesting January 2016. Some pretty deep lows and then the end of the month brought the 3rd iteration of the 24 Hour Relay. 

The relay is a bastardization of the 24 Hour Swims in La Tuque Canada that were held in the 1960's. I read about them in "Wind Waves and Sunburn" and always thought that Aquatic Park in San Francisco would be a perfect venue. I also needed something to take my mind off a cluster**** of a  2013MIMS and wanted to be the "anti MIMS". No essay, no website, cheap and convivial.And so it has become.

The first year brought torrential rain and wind ( the only rain for  2014 in SF) and 47 swimmers.I

It was an exercise in flexibility and adaptation but we also had a hell of a lot of fun. 

2015 brought warm water and frightenly warm air as well. I was in charge of the food and it was crap. 

2016 brought colder water and air but no rain. Which is great for the kayakers and helpers but sucks for California.

We had 42 swimmers, some veterans and some newbies and an international flair as well. 2016 also turned out a heap of experienced volunteers so that meant that I could actually swim. Wow... this thing tests your mettle.

Lisa A has done a superb video that makes it look like alot of fun... which it is.

I have copied the link.. watch it and put it on your calendar for the first week of Feb 2017

End of a "Season", beginning of?

Suzie Dods

Wow, I am horrid at this blog stuff.

So much has happened and yet nothing has.

I finished my "triple crown" and thought that well, the world would stop. D'uh. It didn't. I had a lovely day, great tides, a fab kayaker( aren't they all?) and a superb hostess and crew. I swam as hard as I could for as long as I could, and I finished. Done and dusted.

What next?  I don't know. I really don't. I had visions of trying something in October but life got in the way. Now? All I really want to do is find time to swim on a regular basis, anywhere.

I also want to start to give back, and was able to do so by crewing for a friend in VT, in "Search for Mempher". A MUCH harder swim than I would ever attempt, much less finish. I learned so much watching Amanda and being on a boat with the lovely Charlotte B all day.

( Rule number one, always put sunscreen on EVERYWHERE) Number two? The French( even if they are Canadian French, really like it if you wear your bra as a bathing suit top.

Seriously, two stellar displays of fortitude, Katie B and Amanda H did sooo soo well.

Two threads have come up in the MSF site, one about the "ego swimmer" and two about DN.

If you want my thoughts on those two threads, I have made copious comments.

Recently in San Francisco Bay we had the first ever documented attack on a seal/sea lion wonderfully video taped and narrated by a really cute young boy.I think I have put the link here.

 If not, just google it.

I must admit, I am having second thoughts about the Angel Island to Aquatic Park swim in two weeks but who knows. 

I intend to continue doing "Intro to Bay Swim" sessions as long as there is a need for them so watch the "EVENTS " page here.

Otherwise, just keep swimming. The lovely and sadly missed Dave Parcells' advice reverberates every winter. "You're not going to like what I have to say " he said, " but ya gotta put the time in the pool". 

I hope to do that.

Feet on the floor, after work

Suzie Dods

With the days definitely longer and the water staying at about 58F , combined with the fact that I have figured out a way to get home using public transit that doesn't take me over an hour.... I have been able to swim in the bay after work twice this week. 

While it may not be the best training it is swimming and all swimming is good. Consistency is better than inconsistency and while there may be some garbage yardage involved in my evening swims I am happy to wash the days stresses away and revel in the evening light.

Then there's the pool. I have dropped my master's club membership for now and will just be doing  drop in at the various pools around the county.  This sometimes entails some serious dedication. I get home and all I want to do is listen to the baseball game . Once I am home it can be very difficult to drag myself out again. Hence the "feet on the floor after work".

Successful so far, cranked out a nice tidy 3K last night in the waning light of a lovely sunset in Mill Valley.  I read somewhere that Graehme Schlachter ( aka Zmhippo) sometimes feels that he just wants to drive past his pool and go home after work. 

I can relate and yet , feel I am winning the battle this week. 

Let's hope next week goes as well.

The Tide May Have Turned

Suzie Dods

Two weeks now, holding steady with regular training, with a clock and a workout and everything.

Nothing big, nothing major but I am making it to the pool even when I really just want to go lie down. Hitting my goals yardage wise( again, nothing major but a goal is a goal)

Come April, the trick will be to get "feet on the floor" in the morning after a whole winter of after work swimming. Glad I don't have to do it the first week of daylight savings.


Suzie Dods

While I have SCAR coming up the beginning of May  and MIMS the end of July, I am still struggling to get back into the habit of training. Note I said training, not swimming. I am swimming about 5 days a week. Not hard and not long but swimming. Saturday was a joy, I actually swam twice.It was sunny and flat and warm so it certainly wasn't hard to do. I even got in a little dip Sunday before the clinic. 

What I can't seem to do is swim hard or long. I am finding it difficult to get "feet on the floor" in the morning. My head knows I need to get up and stretch and get to work, but my body just does not want to do it.

I know there will be that magic moment when I go" BOOM" UP AT AT' EM". I just hope it's in time.

Still waiting.

Back in the Pool

Suzie Dods

It's been a couple of busy fun weeks, what with the  24 Hour Relay and friends but it's time to get back at it. I have SCAR coming up before MIMS and need to get some quality yardage it.

Unfortunately , one gets OUT of shape alot faster than one gets IN shape.

2200 yards last night, and I felt as if I was swimming through treacle. I got it done and slept like a baby. Baby steps, baby steps.

Next on the Agenda

Suzie Dods

With the 24 hour relay done and dusted until 2016,  I have time to settle in for my next challenge.  Enjoy the recap below.  Thanks Lisa.

MIMS- 2015. 

Many of you know that I have attempted MIMS before and I won't go into detail, but it is a thorn in my side.

MIMS is the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, a counter-clockwise circumnavigation of Manhattan. It is part of the Triple Crown of swimming. The other two jewels are the English Channel and the Catalina Channel. I have succeeded at those but this one.. oooh boy.

I am scheduled for late July. Follow my progress here!