swimmer in water while kayaker watches

12.5 Mile Swim: Before HOTSHOT, Muscle Cramps Were "Inevitable"

DJ Atkins used HOTSHOT for the first time at the annual Swim Around Key West. After years of swimming with the constant strain of muscle cramps in his legs, DJ’s pursuit to find a solution was met when he spotted a fellow triathlete wearing a t-shirt printed with our codename, #ITSTHENERVE. With piqued curiosity, DJ pre-ordered our official product, hopeful that it would put an end to his longtime suffering. HOTSHOT arrived just in time for the 12.5-mile race. Finishing without a single cramp, DJ says HOTSHOT was a big part of his success. Read his story:

I swam competitively in high school, but that’s where it stopped until I turned 42. I had been your typical travel warrior for eight years. I was on an airplane four days a week, every week. When I quit my job and opened my own business I was 40 pounds overweight, and hadn’t exercised in years. I had tried running for a couple of years, but hated every step of it. I then read an article about Masters Swimming in Men’s Health. It motivated me to join a local group of competitive swimmers and triathletes at the Granite State Penguins.

Ten years later, I’ve fallen in love with open-water competitions. My final pool meet was the masters World Championships in Montreal on my 50th birthday. My transition from pool to open water started off small with 1.2-mile swims and 5K swims, and I have since participated in many destination events including Sharkfest swim from Alcatraz, the 10K “Round the Sound” in Bermuda and the 10K in the Merrimac River.

I had always wanted to conquer the Swim Around Key West. Last year I did a two-person relay, and this year I did it solo, all 12.5 miles, with my wife kayaking beside me the whole way. I trained hard for months, augmenting my swimming with weight training and yoga.

No matter how short the open-water swim, I have always suffered from leg cramps. I’ve tried everything to prevent them; hydration, bananas, and nothing worked. Last year, during the relay at Key West, my legs cramped every time I stopped for water.

While swimming, your body undergoes the same repetitive muscle movements every half hour to 45 minutes. I have never had to pull out of a race, but you can imagine the effects that cramping would have on your overall speed and time, as well as the dangers of cramping in deep ocean water. When you stop to tread water, your legs start moving in a different motion and tend to lock right up. You either have to swim with your feet flexed to stretch out the calves, or float and rub the cramp.

This year, I was looking for a better solution to dealing with this predicament when I noticed a triathlete wearing an #ITSTHENERVE t-shirt at the pool. I asked him about it, and he sent me a link to the website. I requested a trail sample and it was delivered two days before I left for Swim Around Key West. I wanted to test it before the actual race to see how I would react to it. It is a 6-hour swim, and I didn’t need any surprises! I tried HOTSHOT out at practice with no ill effects.

The morning of the race I drank my first HOTSHOT just before getting into the water for the start. I had my whole trial sample pack set in the kayak just in case. I was ready to take some more at the first sign of cramps. In my mind, it was inevitable. I had never raced without cramps. At the 6-mile mark the race was a breeze — not one sign of cramping. I drank my second bottle of HOTSHOT just for prevention. That was all I needed. The race was so smooth due to HOTSHOT, all I had to focus on was swimming. I completed all 12.5 miles without a single cramp! I never expected such amazing results.

An interesting side note: I found out that the defending winner from the previous year lost the race with 2.5 miles remaining due to cramping up.

What next for me? I’m looking for that next “mountain to climb” in swimming. I am thinking about the double Rough Water Swim at Waikiki. It is the original start of the Ironman Triathlon. The regular swim is 2.4 miles, but they also have a double at 4.8 miles. While it is a shorter race, as the name indicates, it can be quite challenging with rough water and interesting marine life.





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