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  • Writer's pictureErin Spineto

Problem Solved...

As we prepare for the One Drop Caicos Adventure in June 2017, we are doing a ton of training. These training diaries are stories from the field and things I have learned from my time in training.

After doing a good deal of research, I finally came up with a design for the Swim Sleds we will use on our swim on day 3 of the One Drop Caicos expedition. We will be hiking around 15 miles that day with short swims between islands interspersed throughout the day. Which means we will have to bring our backpacks into the water with us.


We have amazing dry backpacks made by Blood Red Clothing to keep all of our diabetes supplies and food dry. But we still needed a way to drag them across the water without creating too much drag.

What I came up with was a sled made of PVC pipe and covered with pool noodles. We will tow them behind us using a waist strap connected to a surf leash. This will allow them to travel behind us far enough so we don’t end up kicking them as we swim.

They each cost around $5 to make and are super light to carry, which is a huge consideration when we will have to carry them the 15 miles we have to hike.

I whipped up a prototype, tested its floating capacity in our pool, and this past weekend I got to try them out for real in the open water.

You know you are an endurance athlete when your kids ask you what you want to do for Mother’s day and your immediate response is to do a long open water swim.

After a lovely breakfast, we loaded up the family and headed down to Mission Bay where the kids could

hang out in the sun, and my husband, Tony, and I could get in some open water swimming.

And with all the great white shark sightings nearby, I was happy to be in the bay.

A quick test showed that breakfast had popped my sugars up to about 210 before the swim. I didn’t correct for that knowing that the swim would most likely bring it down. I took off my pump and left it on land. With only a half hour swim, and Levemir as a background basal insulin, I didn’t need to give myself a bolus to cover the insulin my pump would have given me.

With the tiki music playing from the hotel on the beach, I took off with a backpack floating on a sled behind me. I must have looked like a total weirdo, but the water was so clear that I quickly forgot anyone else was even around.

After a few quick adjustments, the sled performed wonderfully. I couldn’t even feel it behind me.

And after staring at a little black line on the bottom of a pool for so long, getting into the open water made the yards fly by. Before I knew it, the mile was over and I was done.

By the time I got out of the water, my sugars had dropped to a stable 160. Finally, a diabetes success during a long training day.


Now that I had tested the prototype, it was time to build two more for Erika and Kati. After a quick nap in the sun, I set up my tools to build in the front yard.

Moments later, I felt a low coming on, so I had to stop my build to test.


That swim earlier was starting to show up in my blood sugars.

I downed a Gu Energy Gel and was off to build again.

I cut all of the pieces of PVC and assembled them, only to realize that I had forgotten to put the pieces of pool noodles onto each section of PVC before I connected it to the next. A quick adaptation of the design fixed that problem.

When they were finished, I threw mine along with its waist strap and surf leash into my suitcase, only to realize that it was too big for my suitcase. The sled won’t do much good if I can’t get it to the islands to use.

But PVC is forgiving. I will have to cut it down a little to fit the suitcase after another trip to Lowe’s.


With the swim sled problem solved, I now am left with only one more logistical problem to solve; How to come up with 12 gallons of water for our two-day paddle on an island that has no taxis and the nearest grocery mart is a two-mile hike away. With 50 lbs of gear including a twelve-foot paddle board, that is a long two miles...

Looks like I will have to keep on thinking...


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