The “Freshies” – My 11 favorite open-water happenings of 2011

The “Freshies” – My 11 favorite open-water happenings of 2011

End-of-year list-making: It’s not just for music aficionados, film buffs, and the New York Times Book Review. Why not open water swimmers, too?

So, here are my 11 favorite open-water “happenings” of 2011 (“happenings” because they’re not all swims).

The list is, admittedly, U.S.-centric – America is where I live and what I pay the closest attention to. While I greatly admire (for example) Nejib Belhedi’s 1400K Swim Across Tunisia, I have no unique insights to add to what others have already said. Perhaps Donal or somebody can make an international list.

The list also reflects my own personal biases. I readily admit, I couldn’t care less about “stunts” in which the promotional efforts are more impressive than the swim itself. Sorry, but I find such things distasteful and think they degrade our sport.

With that in mind, here are the winners of the inaugural “freshies” (in no particular order):


Rob Dumouchel: New Year’s Day Polar Bear 10K.

6 miles through shark-infested, 53F (11.6C) ocean, from Avila Beach to Pismo Beach, CA. Quite possibly, the northern hemisphere’s first marathon swim of 2011.

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Must one be a Fast swimmer to be a Great swimmer?

Must one be a Fast swimmer to be a Great swimmer?

An excerpts from an interview with Kevin Murphy, the real “King of the English Channel”:

I don’t regard myself as a great swimmer. What I’ve got is an overwhelming ability to keep going, physically and mentally; I’ve got this obsessive willpower to keep going. As a swimmer, there are lots of people who are much better than me; there are a lot of swimmers who are a lot fitter than me. But the point about what we do is… I like to say that 50% of it is willpower; 25% swimming ability; and 25% fitness. The only thing about it is, the fitter you are and the better swimmer you are, the less it hurts psychologically.

Kevin was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1977 – and the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2009. Among other feats, he’s completed 34 crossings of the English Channel.

And he is not a fast swimmer. (His fastest E-F crossing was 13 hours, 31 minutes).

This cuts to the heart of marathon swimming and is perhaps the most significant difference from pool swimming (in which athletes are judged only on the basis of time/speed).…

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On triple crowns, and varieties thereof

On triple crowns, and varieties thereof

The three traditionally recognized jewels in the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming are the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

These aren’t necessarily the most challenging marathon swims in the world (though they are certainly challenging), but they’re arguably the most famous and iconic.

One might argue this traditional definition unfairly favors North Americans – and penalizes our friends in the Southern Hemisphere. A more “hemispherically balanced” Triple Crown would likely include the Cook Strait between the north and south islands of New Zealand.

But why settle for just one Triple Crown? Leave it to Steven Munatones to produce an almost comically long list of alternative triple crowns, depending on one’s geographic perspective. As it turns out, the trifecta I’ll be attempting this year (Tampa Bay, Manhattan Island, Catalina) is one of them – the “American Triple Crown.”

So now you know.…

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Do marathon swims require high-volume training?

Do marathon swims require high-volume training?

A few weeks ago there was an interesting exchange on Steven Munatones’ Facebook page. In response to Steve’s report of a group of Irish marathon swimmers who did a monster set of 200 x 100m on 1:40, one well known swimmer/coach/guru commented:

How did I ever manage to complete the Manhattan Island Marathon twice, averaging less than 20,000 yards per week, and with most sets being 3000 yards or less? Ditto the 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon.

Munatones responded:

You have written extensively how little you train for marathon by training neurologically vs. traditionally. Other swimmers also train relatively little while experiencing success in marathon swims. However, experiencing long tough workouts are a proven way to increase the PROBABILITY of finishing a race and overcoming the inevitable obstacles along the way. In my opinion, successful marathon swimming is about minimizing risks while occasionally doing long, tough workouts to maximize performance, especially if one is new to the sport. For yourself and others who have already completed a marathon swim or have decades of competitive swimming background, there is much less need to train long distances.



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In the News – Week of October 25

In the News – Week of October 25

The latest from Steven Munatones’ inimitable Daily News:


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