10 Questions Asked when Training for a Marathon swim.
During the past year, I’ve been asked similar questions over and over again, I think this covers the answers to those of you that haven’t asked all the questions yet! 🙂
# 10 – Oh you swim, how far is the English Channel / Catalina Channel.?
As the Crow flies, it is 21miles to cross the channels. But as there are currents in the sea, you don’t swim a straight line. So be ready to swim longer than 21miles. (Cue lots of ooohhhss and aaaahhhs).
# 9 – What about Sharks / Jellyfish / ships / ferries.?
We swim in their home (Jellyfish/sharks etc), so yes, they could be about. I don’t like Jellyfish, but I put up with them, and as for sharks, I don’t think about them much. The Ferries/ships, they are bigger than me, but I trust that my boat captain/pilot and crew will guide me safely to the other side.
# 8 – Does it cost much.?
Yes, lots, but it is my choice to sign the contract with the boat pilot and swim, no one makes me do it, so I pay for my hobby (it’s an expensive one) but one I choose. And it’s not always thousands!, some of my swims are local and cost much less. I am not an elite athlete, I work full time and I swim part time!. (work to live motto).
# 7 – You don’t wear a wetsuit.? Why Not.?
Official ‘Open Water Marathon rules’ are no wetsuits, just togs (swimsuit), and goggles, and 1 hat.
# 6 – How do you train for something like that.?
Balancing the work/life/training is something I am very mindful of, but I average about 15hours of training a week, between pool/sea/gym. Sometimes it’s a little more, sometimes less, depending on my plan. I train most days before I go to work (6.30-8.00am), a few evenings, and do my longer training sets at the weekend when I have more time. I take at least one day off a week from all exercise. Recovery is as important as training.
# 5 – Are you not hungry/tired all the time.?
Hungry, yes, it got to the stage, if I didn’t eat every 2 hours, I was hunting for food/snacks. But I do eat reasonably well mostly, not garbage food just for the sake of eating. As for sleeping, I inherited my Dads genes on that one, I don’t sleep much more than 6hrs a night, 8hrs would be a lie in day!, but I do love my weekend power naps!
# 4 – When Are you doing your swim.?
Most swims in the sea are weather dependent. Usually we narrow down a ‘window or week’ of when we want to swim, and then we wait for best conditions, of wind/tide etc. So this answer is always vague, I spent the summer saying I was swimming the English channel at the end of August, I knew it would happen at some stage over a 10 day period, I just had to wait for my boat pilot to call me and say wind/tide were good enough to go out. Sometimes, we get ‘weathered out’ and don’t get to do our swims, but that is the nature of Open Water Swimming, you have to be relaxed and ready and not get hyped up too soon. What will be, will be.
# 3 – How Long will it take to swim the channel.?
The question that is so hard to answer. If you run a marathon, and have done the training, you have an idea of how long it’s going to take you. With Open Water swimming, we don’t always know. The wind/tide/current all have huge parts to play in how long you will be in the water. Everything aligned, and we might have an idea of how long something should take (based on training speeds etc), but changing weather conditions mid swim, could add hours to a crossing, so we always prepare to swim for longer than we think we will do. I trained for a 12hr + English Channel swim, was mentally/physically ready for much more, but I crossed it in 10hrs 18min, everything aligned that day for me. I was fit and strong and conditions were good, and pilot guided me across superbly. I was one of the lucky ones.
2 – What do you eat while swimming the channel.?
We mainly drink (special energy/carb drinks), and sometimes we like treats, I may have had some Barrys Tea and some fruit mid way in the channel!. But our stops for ‘feeds/fuel’ are brief (I take 250ml of carb drink every 30mins – it takes me about 10sec to drink it and get going again). We are not allowed to touch the boat during a ‘feed stop’, so we thread water and drink our bottle that was thrown on a rope, and go!.
1 – WHY do it.?
Why not. We are not here for an easy life, that would be boring.