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Training for the Big Swim

Posted by JCC Pittsburgh on March 16, 2018
Final Training Report – August 20, 2018

It still hasn’t set in, I don’t think it ever will. It’s crazy, absolute bananas that I swam Lake Erie on August 4. It took me 10 hours 56 minutes and 45 seconds to do. Never did it occur to me that I would have a shot at the record, I was hoping to be around 12-13 hours. I am still in disbelief. In addition to the swim, we have managed to raise $7,460 for the Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. Overall this whole experience has been phenomenal. I really cannot put into words what happened or how it felt.

As this process has concluded I’ve been barraged with so much love and support it is unreal. However, the real MVPs of the Lake Swim were my crew. My crew consisted of Captain Liam Kelly, my mother Karla Razanauskas, my brother Mitchell Razanauskas, my former swim coach Paula Allshouse, Tommy Steele, Brian Hanne, Sean Tucker, Mike Kneidinger and Maria Tarbell. What was forecasted to be a calm day on Lake Erie ended up being a choppy, trying day for the crew. They kept me on track, both mentally and physically throughout the day. They battled sinking kayaks, 3-5 foot waves and wicked sea sickness. However, at the end of the day, they persevered and put me in a position to succeed. Thank you, I owe yinz so much!

Since the conclusion, there have been so many questions about the whole event and process. So, for my final post I want to answer the most common questions.

How and what did you eat? 

This is the most popular question by far! I drank a 20 oz. protein and carbohydrate shake every hour with a Gu gel pack. I consumed these while treading water without assistance from my crew. I treaded water and ate for 3-5 minutes every hour then resumed swimming.

What did you think about? 

Honestly, not much. I don’t remember most of my swim. There are some distinct moments I remember. Some songs went through my head by Vance Joy such as Red Eye and Like Gold but for most of the swim I was zoned out.

How did you feel the day after? 

I felt pretty good for swimming 24 miles. The only injury I sustained was wrist tendonitis. I just rested my right hand, iced it every few hours and alternated Tylenol and Motrin. The injury resolved in about a week’s time. I did wake up stiff so what I did was go for 1-2 mile walks every 3 hours. I was happy to not be incapacitated.

Did you see anything? 

I saw the Lake Erie Monster and a piece of driftwood, no fish!

What were you covered in while swimming? 

I used a combination of lanolin, Desitin and SolRx to cover my body to prevent chaffing and sunburn. I did not suffer any skin breakdown and was only burnt on my face a little bit. Overall, I was pleased with this combination of skin care products.

How did you train? 

To put it simply, I trained tired. My training regimen consisted of a lot of long swims after working 12+ hour shifts at the hospital. A week in my training life would look like this:

Monday: Work from 0000-0730. Swim from 0815-1015 about 8,000 yards

Tuesday: Work from 1900-0730. Drive to Erie PA. Swim from 1200-1500 try for at least 12,000 yards

Wednesday: Swim from 1000-1200 about 5 miles open water and swim again 1700-1900 about 5 miles again open water

Thursday: Swim from 1000-1200 about 5 miles open water and swim again 1700-1900 about 5 miles open water. Drive back to Pittsburgh

Friday: Rest Day, maybe an hour in the pool in the morning. Work then that night into Saturday morning.

Saturday: Finish work at 0730, swim 10 miles in the pool from 0900-1300.

Sunday: Rest, no swimming, Work tonight into Monday morning

I didn’t have a lot of free time. It was a constant struggle to get enough sleep and food to sustain myself. It was just a challenge at times to show up to work out, but this really helped me push through when I was struggling in the middle of Lake Erie.

Would you do it again? 

Yes, I would. It requires months of training and sacrifice; however, it was worth it. The number of friends I made and the old friends I reconnected with just made this experience incredible. In addition, it just feels good to give back. Tying a personal goal with charity has been a life changing experience.

What’s next? 

So where do I go from here? I get this question a lot and right now, I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about continuing to train to swim other Great Lakes such as; Michigan, Superior, Huron and Ontario. I am leaning towards either Michigan or Ontario. The Michigan route would be from Gary to Chicago, about 30 miles, and the Ontario route would be from Saint Catherines to Oakley, around 26.2 miles. I’ve also been thinking about just focusing on earning my MBA. I do not know what the future holds for me. For now, I will rest up for the next month and enjoy being a 26-year-old. It’s been a while since I have done that. I’ll just take it day by day now and figure out something soon!

Thank you for joining me on this wild spectacular ride,

Conrad Fitch Kubaney  

Training Report: August 2, 2018

Well, we got a date. This Saturday, August 4, I will be swimming Lake Erie. I’ll be starting sometime around 0500 and am hopeful I can make it back in 12 hours. It’ll be a long journey but I’ll be out of the water on the American side hopefully around 1700-1800… hopefully. Follow the tracker to check in on my progress. I’ll be landing at Freeport Beach North East PA. Anyone can come down to watch the finish!

Here is the tracking link to see my progress:

A great big thank you to everyone who has donated to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. Also thank you goes out the JCC Pittsburgh, Bauer Specialty and the Skunk and Goat for their tremendous help in this process. Finally the biggest thank you goes out to my family, friends, and co-workers who have been by my side the entire process of this. I’ve been pretty selfish with my time, money and energy this past year and asked for so much from so many people. Without my great support system, there is not a feasible way I could’ve gotten to where I am right now. I owe you guys a lot, seriously like a ton.

If you know anyone interested in donating or would like to donate yourself, here is the link:

It has been a crazy process and an even crazier past three weeks. I am excited to get this thing done. I’ve been working hard every day to achieve this goal and I can’t believe it is here! If I do complete this challenge I’ll be the 23rd person to have done it. I cannot thank the JCC enough for their help. Whether it be the lifeguards, staff or swimmer in the pool, you have all made me feel beyond welcomed and supported. I cannot thank you enough.

Finally, let’s have a glorious Saturday! The sun will be shining, the lake will be flat, I’ll be covered in desitin and lanolin, it’ll be a sight to see! So come on up and eat some food, meet new people and experience the finish of a Lake Erie Swim.

Training Report: August 1, 2018

Hopefully, I go this week!!!

Just a little update for the swimmy swim. Number one, A great big thank you to everyone who attended the event at the Skunk and Goat in North East PA. We raised about $300 for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. It was a great night filled with burgers, brews, family and friends. Thank again for all who attended. After checks come in, we will have raised over $3,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. That’s awesome thank you to all who have donated, I’ll have to come up with a little something for yinz.

Now to catch up on the swimmy swim action. Well… It has been frustrating. Weather has been a bear, it’s been hard to find suitable day for the swim that works for all of us at Team Beefcake. Work commitments are creeping up, the window to swim is slowly closing, the days are getting shorter and well, the lake is cooling a tad. Anyway, yinz get the picture; I’ve been stressing about this. Good news though, this weekend we may have a few days where we can attempt a crossing without threat of a T-storm, large waves or water spouts. So hopefully we’ll get this thing done. But until we put out the official word, I’ll pull a Dory and just keep swimming.

I just want to reiterate my appreciation to everyone who has donated to the foundation, donated their time to help me kayak and encouraged me to continue to pursue this looney goal. It has been a crazy ride and it’s been really humbling. I don’t know I am at a loss of words to describe it and well that doesn’t happen often. In fact, most people will say it doesn’t happen at all . I’ll just continue to profusely thank everyone who has contributed to this madness in some way shape or form.

Training Report: July 17, 2018

Every once in a while, I like to think about where I was a year or two ago. It’s a little self assessment I do from time to time. As I rapidly approach the date of my swim, it is amazing to me how far I’ve come in the past year.

Last year, I find myself getting ready for a Jimmy Buffet concert, somewhat dreading it. See the girl I was seeing at the time was moving away. I’m not doing so hot in Chicago and this, this, well it just sucks. I feel defeated. I feel like a failure. In a few weeks time I’ll find myself back to Pittsburgh hoping to be welcomed by my co-workers who I took for granted and left the year previous. I sense the girl is pulling away and will soon be an ex-girl. Pretty much nothing is going right.

I move back to the Burgh and she moved on shortly after. August 7, 2017, I find myself without power. It was a cruel coincidence because it perfectly reflected how little light or hope was in my life at the time. So I cried, made a phone call and felt sorry for myself. In this moment, I made a vow to myself that this would be the last time I feel sorry for myself. I was going to set big goals and inch by inch chip away and make progress towards them.

First, I continued to study for my CPEN exam. Second, I would start to complete prerequisites to pursue an MBA. Third I’d start to train to swim Lake Erie.

I passed my CPEN two weeks later. I completed those prerequisites, was accepted into graduate school and finished my first semester with a 4.0.

Now I’m 2-4 weeks away from swimming Lake Erie. I was scared shitless, fearful of failure. It’s such a big undertaking and so much can go wrong. A lot is outside of my control; the winds, weather and waves. Often I find myself asking, “Can I actually do this?” Luckily Mike Kneidinger, an old friend from my Presque Isle lifeguard days, kayaked with me this week and gave me some great advice.

He said, “when things get tough, when you feel like you want to quit and you can’t go on, remember those who are in your corner. Remember your friends, your family, your co-workers and everyone who loves and cares for you. We’re all pushing for you and without a doubt you’ll do this.”

It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to feel that life is spinning out of control. In these moments out on the Lake I have to remember how far I’ve come in the past year. How much I’ve matured by courting failure through pushing my perceived limits. How so many people have offered to help along the way; friends, family, co-workers and even strangers. This combination of bullheadedness and support will fuel my will to cross this (damn) lake. It’ll be a helluva of time and it’ll be a wild ride. If anyone can I can and it’s not because of me… it’s because I have a so many great people behind me.

Training Report: July 9, 2018

It has been getting busier and busier as the time grows closer to the Lake crossing. There are still a few things that I need to do!

First, I need to gather “Team Beefcake” for the crossing. This has been a great challenge! Most of us are in Pittsburgh while a few are up in Erie. With our crazy work schedules, it has proven difficult to settle on a time to at least have a phone meeting. We will hopefully get a meeting in this week!

I am relieved that my family and I found a boat for the crossing! Liam Kelly and his wife Ann will provide escort with their 42’ boat for the Lake Crossing. I am beyond ecstatic and forever grateful to them!  A special thank you also goes out to Dominic Pachell, a great friend of my dad and the family, who introduced us to Liam and Ann. Again, thank you. I would also like to thank everyone who did ask others about a boat. Words cannot express how lucky I am to be surrounded by so many individuals who want to help me tackle this goal!

Another goal of mine this week is to design a t-shirt for all of those who have helped me out. There are so many people I owe a great deal to. Whether it be my family for tolerating my extreme stress levels as of late or my co-workers who hear about my Lake Swim for the umpteenth time. I want to show my appreciation and provide a team uniform for the Lake Swim.

Finally, I must give additional thanks to my little brother Mitchell Razanauskas who has kayaked for me numerous times in Lake Erie. This past week we went out on a day where the waves were 2-3 feet and he got sore. He stuck by my side the entire time, provided for my safety and never complained. He is a trooper that has volunteered hours of his time to help me. Thank you little bro! In addition to my brother, a former teammate of mine during high school, Maria Tarbell kayaked for me this past week. She volunteered after my brother was a little bit too sore to help me out that day. So I owe her a big thank you as well.

The date is about 3 weeks away. My goal date for this swim is July 31st, weather depending. I am getting a bit nervous but overall, I think this will be a fun adventure. I look forward to being out on the water with Liam, Ann, my brother Mitchell, my best friend Tommy, Jeff and Brian. I think we will have good stories to tell about the experience. I’m just ready to get this thing started already!!


Training Report: June 27, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on my progress. I only have about a month left until the event takes place. My goal is to swim Lake Erie the week of July 30. Of course, this is all weather dependent.  I’ve been driving up to Erie every week to get some miles in the big guy. I’ve done up to 10 miles in a day. I’m going to work my way up to 15-20 miles while acclimating to the colder waters. In two weeks I will begin to drop my yardage to rest for the big swim.

Swimming off of Presque Isle

While in Erie I have continued my search to find a boat and captain to help escort me across the lake. I have not found one yet however, I have a few meetings set up this week to find one. Fingers crossed I find someone to help. A big shout out to my Uncle Bob and Aunt Brenda, Paula Allshouse, Lisa Keating and the rest of my family for their continued help and support in my search for a vessel.

Even though the big boat has been an issue, I’ve had no problems finding kayakers for the big swim. Tommy Steele, Jeff Gavin, Brian Hanne and Mitchell Razanauskas have all offered to row across Lake Erie to ensure my safety. Since we are a group of fit young men, we have decided to name our team of lake crossers as “Team Beefcake.” We still have a few spots open for a few more kayakers if anyone is interested!

Drew Dunsmore and Conrad before their 5 miles

When I’ve been up to Erie it has been such a pleasure to reconnect with old friends. So many people have come out and offered their services to kayak alongside me while I swim. I want to give a very special thank you to Shannen Lazenby, Drew Dunsmore, Brian Hanne and my brother Mitchell Razanauskas for their help. Without them, it is not safe for me to swim. I owe them for allowing me to continue to train in Lake Erie. It is such an immense help.

Even though preparing for the lake and working has occupied a lot of my time and energy, I was honored to be a guest coach for the Rosedale Rockets. I was invited by their coach, Brigitte Huffman. It was a great experience. The Rockets are a summer swim team with kids who range from 6-18. They were a fun bunch. The whole experience reminded me of my early swim days of swimming 25’s and 50’s.  My favorite moment was when a little boy asked me, “What’s your favorite river?” I answered, “The Allegheny.” He broke out into a huge smile and replied, “Mine too.” Sometimes when you help others, others end up helping you.

Helping the Rosedale Rockets

Finally, I’d like to touch on my cause. I am swimming Lake Erie to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. I’ve worked in the ED for a total of 3 years. It is amazing to see all that we do for kids and families and that is just in the Emergency Department. The funds from the Foundation support families in needs, provide for groundbreaking research and ultimately aid in better health outcomes for sick children. My donation link is here: . Please donate to this wonderful hospital that helps so many children in Western Pennsylvania.


Sunrise from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh

Training Report: May 23, 2018

Only two + months to go!

My favorite part of this long process is the amount of old connections I have renewed and the new connections I have forged. It has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of the JCC community. There is always someone at the pool inquiring about my training and progress. I have made friends with many JCC members and staff. The outreach and support of the JCC has such a positive influence on my training.

In addition to the new connections made at the JCC, this week I reconnected with my Great Uncle Bob. He is an avid boatman who has years of experience sailing Lake Erie. We talked for a few hours about an escort boat that will follow me as I cross Lake Erie. In addition, he told numerous stories about his travels and experiences sailing. He reminds me of the Dos Equis “Most interesting man in the world.” It was great reconnecting with him and his wife Brenda. I have my fingers crossed that he will be able to help me find someone to help me in this endeavor.

In addition to my meeting with Uncle Bob, I finally swam in an open body of water last week. On Wednesday 5/16, I swam for an hour at Lake Edinboro. It was a great experience, scary at times but felt great to get outside! Visibility in the water was poor, probably about 2 feet at most, so I stayed closer to shore and away from the boats. Lake Erie is warming up quickly, it is around 50 degrees, so I should be able to enter in a wetsuit sometime in the next week or two.

Although it has been hard to hit my yardage goals for the week, I am confident in my physical ability to swim the Lake. I just have to get into open water as much as I can at this point and acclimate to currents, temperature and the unpredictability of open water. I look forward to swimming while being escorted  by friends and family in a kayak. It will be great mental boost to have someone right there cheering me on.

Training report: May 2, 2018

Training is going great! Over the past month I have increased my weekly yardage from about 30,000-55,000.  In addition, last week I swam 10 miles three days in a row! This is one of the trial swims for the Lake Swim. I also mailed in the paper work and paid the fees to secure my swim dates.

Stretching during breaks

The weeks I am looking to swim are the week of July 30 and the week of August 6. Of course this is all weather dependent. It is crazy to think I am still 3 months out but it seems like the date is creeping up faster and faster! Hopefully after Memorial Day I can get some open water swims in.

I think physically I am ahead of schedule and will be very prepared for the swim however, I need to get out in open water to become more comfortable. So there is still so much work for me to do!

—Conrad Kubaney

Training for the Big Swim

Our swimming pools are busy — with swimming lessons, swim teams, aquatics fitness classes, lap swimmers and recreational splashing-around. Since October, Conrad Kubaney has become a regular in our Squirrel Hill pool, swimming for hours at a stretch several times a week as he trains for a huge swim — across Lake Erie.

Kubaney, 24, a native of Erie who lives in Bloomfield, is training for an arduous 24.2 mile swim across our nearby Great Lake in late July or early August.

Following an Erie community tradition, he will be raising funds for a cause of his choice. For him, it is the Foundation for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where he is a nurse in the ER.

He’s not a new swimmer, having been part of his high school and Indiana University of Pennsylvania teams. But this next goal is a big one. In addition to the sheer endurance needed to swim such a distance, swimming in a lake means braving fish that may nip at you, waves and currents. “Open water is difficult,” he says. “There’s the mental aspect of looking down and not seeing the bottom. It’s unsettling.”

Kubaney is training to deal with both these aspects — the physical and the mental — swimming up to 4.5 hours at a stretch, just over 10 miles.

For his Lake Erie swim, he will cross the Great Eastern Basin beginning at Long Point, Ontario, Canada, and swim to Freeport Beach in North East, PA, a route that also serves as qualifying swim for the English Channel.

Water temperature is around 60 degrees, cold for a swimmer. “I’m trying to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he says.

He will be led by a large boat and escorted by several kayaks. The record for swimming this route is 11 hours and 15 minutes.

Here’s Conrad at a recent practice. We’ll be updating you in the next months as he prepares for this Big Swim!

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