A fierce competitor
Julie trains four to six times a week in a pool,
swimming a minimum of 5000 yards per session.
Although most of her training is in the pool, she
regularly competes in open water races.
Her swim coach is Bruce Patmos. She met
Bruce at the Venice YMCA when she began
swimming on his master’s team.
“He was hired to build a competitive swim
team, and he has done a remarkable job.”
The races she participates in range in distance
from a quick 5K to 12.5 miles.
“I've swum around Key West several times
(12.5 miles,) around Lido Key (7 miles,) and
raced the Alligator Lighthouse swim since its
inception in 2013 (9.3 miles) and they are all
challenging in their own ways.”
As grueling as a five-hour saltwater swim can
be, she said the Key West swim is the most
pleasant swim because there is some assistance
from the current and the landscape changes as
you swim around the island.
She’s swum with many colorful fish and has
seen her fair share of jellyfish. And sometimes the
waves work against her.
Every swimmer is required to have an escort
in a kayak who is there to provide water and
nutrition. She stops about every 30 minutes to
get some water. The escort passes her a water
bottle tied to a string. Julie obtains sustenance by
adding carbohydrate drops to her water and she
also consumes gel packs that contain carbs and
She said Alligator Lighthouse is a difficult 9.3-
mile swim straight out into the Atlantic Ocean in
During an event like that one, in addition to the
mental and physical intensity of the event, she also
has to manage the changing conditions of the ocean.
Wind, waves, currents and marine life can cause
some serious issues.
But at the end of the day, when her body aches,
her muscles are screaming, and her mouth and
tongue are swollen from the salt, she shakes off the
jellyfish burns, stands proudly on the podium and
shouts "Damn, that was fun!"
To protect her from the sun’s rays, Julie uses diaper
ointment because it has the highest zinc content, is
scentless and stays on throughout the endurance of
Top photo: Swimming in Herradura Bay,
Below: Play time after a serious competition at
Julie and her teammate Kim Miller
shown here with Coach Bruce before
“dark-thirty” practice 5:15 a.m.
May/June 2018 GASPARILLA ISLAND 49