Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Inner Thoughts of a World-Class Open Water Swimmer

Trent Grimsey, arguably the world's best short-distance ocean swimmer who recently won the 2008 Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the 2008 RCP Tiburon Mile (shown on left), the Eyeline 1000 Noosa Ocean Swim and the 2009 Australian 5K and 10K Open Water Swimming Championships, will be competing in the 5K and 10K events at the World Swimming Championships in Rome.

We caught up with Trent during his preparations for Rome:

10Kswimmer: What is the allure of open water swimming for you?
Trent: I guess it's an Olympic sport now so that has a fair bit to do with it, but I also like that it's very tactical, so you don't have to be the fastest swimmer in the field to win.

10Kswimmer: When did you first realize that open water swimming was for you?
Trent: I think I realized that open water swimming was a path to seriously consider during 2008 when I really started to have a lot of success with it.

10Kswimmer: How many ocean swims do you think you have done in Australia or around the world?
Trent: Well, in Australia, there are quite a few ocean swims every year. In south east Queensland where I live, they have ocean swims probably every 5 to 6 weeks, that are anywhere from 1K to 3K long. Also, in New Zealand, they have a really good ocean swim series that I like to compete in. Other than that, I have not done a lot of racing overseas...although in 2008 I did a few races in the US including the RCP Tiburon Mile, Maui Channel Swim and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim.

10Kswimmer: What do you think about when you start an ocean race in Australia where hundreds of people head down the beach in a mad craze?
Trent: If there are hundreds of people in a race then start is crucial, I'll try and find the best place on the line to start from and just try and relax... maybe put my hands on my hips so as people do not stand to close to me.

10Kswimmer: Australian swimmers and lifesavers are notoriously competitive, aggressive and experienced. What do you think about when you are in a pack going around a turn buoy (can)?
Trent: I will try not to be in the middle of this pack, but if I am, I would be trying to find ways to get out. Its probably not the best thing to lift your head when going around a turn buoy.

10Kswimmer: When the surf is high, what do you think about when you are heading into shore during a tight race?
Trent: I hope my legs are fresher the the guys next to me. You also have to know if there's a wave building up behind you and know exactly when to stand up to start running.

10Kswimmer: What was your most difficult swim – either short ocean swim or longer marathon swim?
Trent: My most difficult ocean swim would of been about two months ago in New Zealand, It was the King of the Bays, a 2.8K swim in Auckland. The conditions were really bad. It was something like 15 to 20 knots. It was cold, wet and windy, I couldn't get in to a rhythym and the bouys were spaced a long way apart - I couldn't see anything.

10Kswimmer: What was going through your mind as you were doing this swim?
Trent: I hope I'm in front and I hope there's hot showers at the end.

10Kswimmer: When conditions get difficult in the open water, do you ever about quitting?
Trent: I guess the thought might cross your mind, but then you think, wait...everyone else in the race is hurting just as much as me and everyone else is having just as much trouble as me...I find that aways helps.

10Kswimmer: Are there any particular song or words that you repeated to yourself over and over again during the swim?
Trent: Pain is temporary, but pride is forever!

10Kswimmer: Are there any kind of mental games that you play to help you overcome the cold water or tough conditions?
Trent: Not really, I do get very nervous before a race so I am aways trying to control my breathing and trying to relax.

10Kswimmer: What are some of the most difficult workouts you have ever done – either in the pool or open water?
Trent: Well, my type of training is very aerobic based and I swim big KMs. About two years ago, I swam 120K in one week over 11 sessions.

10Kswimmer: The Europeans have recently dominated professional marathon swimming. How do you plan to change that?
Trent: This is a good question. I guess experience has a lot to do with being a good open water swimmer. Experience and hard work. I believe I am doing the right type of training - it's just getting the international race experience. Living in Australia, I guess doesn't really help with that because we are so far away from the rest of the world, so I think the next best thing to international racing is talking with people who have been there before and done that. I find talking with people like Josh Santacaterina and Brendan Cappel (both former 25km world champions) really helps. They are both full of great advice and are not afraid to share what they know. These guys have helped me out a lot with advice and how to prepare for a race and, I guess, even race tactics.

Onto Rome...

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