sábado, enero 29, 2011

35 km english channel swimming

Friday, January 28, 2011
Mental Toughness For Long Distance Swimming and H2Open Magazine Launch

Swimming a very long event such as the 35km English Channel is an incredible physical undertaking but it is also extremely tough mentally. The sheer distances, the hard training, the loneliness of the event and the cold water create considerable challenges for any swimmer. How do long distance swimmers cope? This fascinating article written by Professors Greg Whyte and Andy Lane explains and gives you some of their techniques that you can use in your own training and racing, whatever the distances and environment:

Endurance Training and Mental Toughness for Long Distance Swimming
Imagine the scene; it is 5 o’clock in the morning and you're about to walk into the sea at Dover with the intention of swimming the English Channel. You will be swimming in a dark, cold and lonely environment. Not surprisingly, the prospect of performing in such conditions makes you ask yourself questions such as: Why am I doing this? Will I be able to keep going?

Having set the goal of swimming the Channel, it’s worth reflecting on why you want to achieve it and how much it means
Training for open-water swimming performance should focus on two key areas: physiological performance and open-water experience and habituation.

A significant factor in open-water swimming is ‘experience and habituation’ (this term is preferred over ‘acclimatisation’ as very little acclimatisation takes place in response to cold-water exposure) to open water. Most open-water swimming events are in cold (<18°C) water resulting in significant cold-induced stress.

The human body needs to control its core body temperature within narrow limits to maintain normal function and survival. Maintaining core temperature is achieved through a balance of heat production (a by-product of energy production) and heat loss. Water is 25-times more conductive than air leading to a 4-fold increase in heat loss for anybody immersed in it. In open cold water, heat production becomes essential in maintaining normal function.
At rest the energy expenditure (and therefore heat output) of the human body is about 100 watts rising 15-fold to 1,500 watts during exercise. Thus, a high-energy turnover and power output (speed) must be maintained to sustain core temperature.

In addition to core temperature, peripheral and skin temperatures play an important role in open-water performance. When cooled, peripheral nerve conduction velocity falls by 15ms-1 for every 10°C and muscle power output falls 3% for every 1°C fall in muscle temperature, thus reinforcing the need for maintenance of power output to reduce the deleterious impact of cold on performance(1). A cold shock response can occur immediately on submersion in cold water leading to hyperventilation and a dramatic fall in breath hold time (the leading cause of drowning)(2).

Other factors associated with open-water swimming include the hypertonic environment of seawater with a 3.5% sodium solution compared with 1% in cells. This hyper-saline environment leads to significant problems with feeding and abrasions that can have a profound effect on performance.

Habituation (experience) is fundamental for the successful open-water swimmer. In addition to coping with the physiological impact of the cold and sometimes saline environment, the ability to navigate, control and maintain pace while coping with the prolonged isolation of often opaque, deep water with the fear of wildlife below makes open-water swimming a significant physiological and psychological challenge.

Swimming the Channel involves completing about 40,000 strokes

athletes experience a range of debilitating emotional states such as fatigue, anger and sadness, this tends to be accompanied by both negative self-talk and negative images. It is important to recognise that these emotional states are transient, and if the athlete can use strategies to change these emotions from negative to positive or to neutral, the accompanying self-talk and images tend to become positive

An effective strategy in swimming is to develop the mindset that goal completion is achieved one stroke at a time. Focusing on technique can be an effective strategy to disassociate with fatigue.

A second strategy is listening to music(7). Synchronising with the rhythm can be helpful and engaging with the lyrics can enhance motivation. Swimmers can simulate listening to music by humming songs.

Classical preparatory sessions for English Channel swimmers include six to seven hour swims on consecutive days.


You may know Prof. Whyte as comedian David Walliam's coach when he swam the English Channel. He was also one of Paul Newsome's exercise physiologists at Bath University on the British Triathlon Team.

Also this week we bring exciting news of the launch of a new UK based open water swimming magazine: H2Open. We've written some articles for the new magazine and are very impressed with the list of contributors - it will be a fantastic read. If you've largely been a pool-based swimmer to date we know you'll find the new magazine a great inspiration for training and racing in the great outdoors!

Find out more about the magazine here: http://www.h2openmagazine.com
And subscribe here (UK or international): http://www.escosubs.co.uk/h2open/index.asp

Congrats to Simon Griffiths and his team on the launch!

Swim Smooth!

Posted by Paul at 12:11 PM


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