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Showing posts with label ocean swimming. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ocean swimming. Show all posts

Monday, July 14, 2014

Katie Benoit: Playing the Open-Water Waiting Game

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Katie Benoit has completed three of the Oceans Seven open-water swims. A full-time police officer and working mom, she swims to raise funds and awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. As she prepares for swim #4 – she leaves for Ireland on July 16 with a tide window from July 18-26 – she reflects on her preparations, fears (giant jellyfish!) and hopes.

It seems things before every major race tend to be very similar. I always wish I had just a little more time to train. I never feel prepared enough.

One of the difficult things about open-water swimming is that there are no guarantees. Every swimmer's worst fear is to fly halfway around the world just to sit on the beach waiting for better weather. Carbo-loading – eating lots of carbohydrates the day before the event – becomes tricky if you don't know when the big day is going to be. We call it the open-water waiting game.

The North Channel, like every major channel, holds its very own set of challenges for swimmers. The 18-mile stretch between Northern Ireland and Scotland, the North Channel is most feared for its cold temperatures; water temperatures linger around 52 degrees, and it has been swum successfully fewer than 30 times. Lion’s mane jellyfish, commonly around 10-30 feet in size, linger all over this stretch of water. While inconvenient, their stings do not tend to lead to more serious complications (or so we hope).

Open-water swimmers Katie Benoit, Cliff Crozier, Kimberley Chambers, and Darren Miller at Wellington Lake, CO
Katie Benoit (far left) on a recent trip to Wellington Lake, Colorado, where she swam in 55-degree water. It’s all part of the preparation for her Oceans Seven swim #4, crossing the treacherous North Channel later this month.  Also pictured, from left to right: open-water swimmers Cliff Crozier of Colorado and Kimberley Chambers from New Zealand, and Oceans Seven achiever Darren Miller.

Monday, May 19, 2014

“My Mind’s a Movie Theatre”: Katie Benoit on the Mental Aspect of UltraSwimming

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Swimming the Oceans Seven is more than just a physical challenge; it’s a mental one too. We asked open water swimmer, full-time police officer, and mom Katie Benoit about her mental training. It’s worth noting that she swims with extra determination as her major swims are dedicated to raising funds and awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Here’s what she had to share:

I can't think of any question that I am being asked more often than, "What do you think about when you are out there for all that time swimming?" My short answer is, "My mind's a movie theatre."

I am a firm believer that most of our outcomes are primarily determined in our mind. What I mean by that is that I need to develop the firm belief that the swim is possible. Depending on what challenges are ahead, that task goes hand in hand with the daily training.

For example, I don't only condition my body for the cold water and for endurance swimming, but I also work on accepting the conditions I will be facing. I utilize visualization in training. I may be freezing in my Endless Pool [Ed. Note: she keeps it at 59° in preparation for her next swim; it can be set to a high of 92°], but as I am doing so, I visualize the coast of Scotland. It really goes beyond just thinking of the image. I try to imagine what it would feel like to finish. I imagine the relief, the euphoria, and really try to live the experience. This type of mental training happens in passing almost daily as I am swimming.

Open water swimmer Katie Benoit 4 hours into her successful English Channel swim
What's Katie Benoit thinking here, in 2012, about 4 hours into her successful English Channel swim? Maybe she was visualizing her emergence onto the coast of Scotland. Maybe she was thinking about the sacrifices of her support circle. Or maybe she was just singing a song in her head.

A certain level of dissociation can also help you push through some physical discomfort. I have spent roughly 23 years swimming, and even as a high school swimmer, I learned to entertain myself while swimming. I'd sing songs in my mind, study vocabulary, recall a movie, and so forth.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Katie Benoit: My Oceans Seven Training Routine

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We’ve been following Katie Benoit as she trains to complete the Oceans Seven to raise funds and awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. She’s already completed three of the seven open-water swims. As she prepares for #4, she shared her training routine as well as some of the challenges she faces as a working mom.

I work full-time as a police officer and have a nine-year-old son, so there are times when swimming 40,000 yards a week is pretty hard. I know lots of swimmers that swim tons more, so I have to get effective mileage in because I don't have time for more. There is the occasional 6-to-8-hour test swim, but it's not something I can do every day.

Katie, just before her 18-hour crossing of Hawaii's Molokai Channel in 2013

Two Swims a Day
My first swim is anywhere between 6,000 and 10,000 yards and happens in a local short-course pool in the morning. I emphasize quality over quantity – I believe you'll get more out of 6,000 yards that you swam focused and a little faster versus swimming 10,000 when you didn't push yourself.

The morning swim time depends on work. I work 2 pm until midnight four nights a week. So on a workday, I swim for 2-to-3 hours at 10 am. On off days, I get a first swim in around 0800 and another in the early afternoon around 1400.

My second swim is typically in my Endless Pool where I work on form, core strength, and cold tolerance (I keep mine at 59) for another hour. The Endless Pool has been fantastic; even on those days when I get stuck at work or my family needs me, I can get a quick swim in. No driving time, no pool schedules - I just head into my garage. It really helps me make my life a little easier and more balanced.

Additionally, I make sure I get my stretching in to prevent injuries, even if it turns into stretching in the shower.

I have to be flexible – sometimes I get stuck at work all night or I have to go to court on short notice. I plan rest days, but if I can't swim on a certain day, I make that day a rest day and adjust accordingly. I just make sure I get my weekly goals accomplished even if there's one day when I couldn't get it done.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Katie Benoit Trains to Aid SOWF in Pursuit of Her Open Water Goals

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I have noticed an increase in core stability and core strength since beginning to train in the Endless Pool. The current really forces you to focus on streamlining and laying "high and flat" on the water. I feel like the Endless Pool has helped me focus on stroke efficiency, gliding, and a high body position. 

The pool provides immediate feedback for different training routines. I believe a good initial focus is to keep the pace steady and to learn how to swim with less and less effort at the same pace for at least part of my practice. The mirror on the bottom is also a great tool to check if my arms enter at shoulder width and pull all the way through.

I like swimming with a Freestyle snorkel and watching my stroke in the mirror. It's fun and really helps to feel what a good body position in the water is. I also play with the pull buoy. I found that pulling is much harder in the Endless Pool, really demanding on the core. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Jason Malick completes 22.5 mile swim to raise funds for cancer research

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Starting at 3:58 AM on Friday, July 26, Jason Malick swam for over 14 hours, completing his 22.5 mile swim around Absecon Island at 6:06 PM.



Malick swam at a steady pace to complete his 22.5 mile challenge
 
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