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Saturday, September 8, 2012

6:55...Trent Grimsey Breaks Hallowed English Channel Record

24-year-old Trent Grimsey has faced a number of suffocating defeats and career-jarring disappointments over the last few years. The Queensland native showed promise and potential, but he faced adversities and challenges that shattered his dreams and rocked his world. He trained like a madman and sacrificed as his coaches advised, but his vision of representing Australia at the Olympics did not materialize. The oldest brother of a family of swimming bros just couldn't completely unleash his talents given his debilitating illnesses and miscues.

But he remained hungry and humble.

He took his lumps after moving to Canada with his coach, only to find his trajectory to greatness was sidetracked. While he won several FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix races, he watched his rivals wear the yellow and green of Australia in London at the 2012 Olympics. In head-to-head races with archival Petar Stoychev, it seemed that Stoychev always had his number.

But Grimsey congratulated them with graciousness. He continued to smile and reassessed his opportunities and talents.

Early on in his career, 20°C (68°F) was considered too cold. The slender 1500m pool swimmer with outstanding balance in his swimming style just couldn't handle cold water, let alone cool water.

After years of being one of the most promising and skinniest marathon swimmers in the world, Grimsey retooled and reconsidered his options when his Olympic dreams were dashed.

He had the speed, but he needed more experience and acclimatization to the cold. So he set a plan, a long-term plan. Similar to the great ones - and every successful swimmer - in the English Channel, Grimsey looked at himself and determined what he needed to get done in order to break the 6 hour 57 minute world record held by Stoychev across the English Channel.

And, like the fraternity of swimmers who are part of English Channel lore, his path was not easy and it was not straight. He accepted invitations to swim in cold locations like Lac St-Jean in Quebec, Canada and down in Cape Town in South Africa. He came out of the water pink and shivering. He gained muscle and he added on a layer of bioprene. The tall and slender teenager from Queensland reshaped and rebuilt his frame to a broad-shouldered beefy, buff cut of manhood.

But his greatest tool was the 6 inches between his ears. Now rebuffed and re-energized with a goal to establish the English Channel record, Grimsey set a plan into action that challenged his mind, spirit and body to acclimate itself not only to the colder water temperatures of the English Channel, but also to rebuild himself to sustain a tremendous fast pace across the 21-mile (34km) stretch of tempestuously dynamic water.

Today, his dreams were finally realized with a blazing fast 6 hour 55 minute crossing of the English Channel. And when a humble, gracious champion like Grimsey succeeds, the community around him - his close-knit family, his hard-working friends, his escort pilot (Michael Oram) and crew (including Damián Blaum shown above), Australian Swimming and the marathon swimming world - rejoice.

"This achievement has long been a dream of mine and has capped off what can only be described as an absolutely stellar year for me and Australian open water swimming. Stoychev set the bar incredibly high, being the only person ever to swim the [English] Channel in under seven hours, but having beaten him recently to become No.1 on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix Circuit, I knew he wasn't invincible and that this record could be beaten.

My preparation has been extreme, but it has truly been a team effort. I would not have been able to do this without the help of a great support crew, both here on the ground and back home. This includes an amazingly dedicated boat pilot Michael Oram, my coach Harley Connolly and everyone back at Lawnton Swim Club, my pace swimmer Damián Blaum and all my friends and family back in Oz”. ."

Aussie voices are heard 'round the world... "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
Oi! Oi! Oi!
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
Oi! Oi! Oi!
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
Oi! Oi! Oi!

Trento...great job mate.

Upper photo is of Trent Grimsey's victory at the RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco Bay. Lower photo is by Michael Oram aboard his escort boat. Last photo of Grimsey swimming in the Channel is courtesy of Owen O'Keefe.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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