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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Strongest Survive…And Thrive

When German national swim team coach Dirk Lange founded Battle Training in Potsdam, he predicted, "The strongest will survive. We're offering it for everyone who is not scared of pain."

Multi-world champion Thomas Lurz was interviewed by Swimming World Magazine about the intense two-week long-distance training camp called Battle Training, that he and other world-class pool and open water swimming superstars including Trent Grimsey and Chad Ho did. He said, "The training is tough and brutal. We did 102,000 meters in the first week. I had a three-week break [after the season was over] and it is pretty hard. We are going to do 75,000 meters this week, but there are three practices per day for three straight days."

"I sometimes have some shoulder problems when I swim in the waves and winds, but I feel OK. Every session we do a really tough.

People are swimming fast [when we do sets like] 20 x 200 or 4 x 800 or 5 X 1500
. One set was 20 x 200 @ 2:30 with a lactate testing after 10. World 200m champion Paul Beiderman can beat us in the short distance. He was averaging 2:06. I was averaging 2:10-2:12 which is bad for me, but good for the beginning of my season. I train with Jan Wolfgarten, Chad Ho and other good IM'ers, 1500-meter swimmers and open water swimmers. Everyone tries to race [during practice]."

When we look back and see the results from those Battle Training sessions, it is true that the strongest survived…and thrived. Besides Ho's dominance over the Midmar Mile and Grimsey's English Channel record swim, Lurz absolutely dominated the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain this summer. The German star won 4 medals in 4 races over 7 days. When "the best" is described, it is hard to argue against an athlete who wins head-to-head against the world's fastest swimmers from 5 km to 25 km under intense pressure in all kinds of conditions throughout the year - and does it with a humble nature and ambassadorial style. At the advanced swimming age of 33, Lurz remains on top of the professional marathon swimming community and was deservedly nominated for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

Quiet and focused, competitive and determined, hard-working and understanding, Lurz most definitely embodies the spirit of open water swimming and possesses the sense of adventure, tenacity and perseverance that open water swimmers are known for. His nomination reads, "It was unprecedented: 4 medals in 4 swims in 7 days. Over a cumulative total of 7 hours of mano-a-mano racing against the world’s best swimmers in Barcelona, Thomas Lurz proved why he is, at the advanced age of 33, the world’s fastest open water swimmer. Never in the history of the sport has anyone demonstrated such total mastery of all aspects of elite open water swimming against the best talent on the planet. Uncomplaining, driven and a glutton for punishment during training, good things have continued for the deserving professional swimmer. For his gold medal at the world championships in the 25 km, his gold medal in the 5 km Team Pursuit, his silver medal in the 10 km, his bronze medal in the 5 km over a span of 7 days, and a handful of other international victories throughout the year, Thomas Lurz is a worthy nominee for the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year.

Lurz has been conducting himself professionally for over a decade on top of the professional marathon swimming world. And none more so than this year when he was confirmed as the overall series champion for the 2013 FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup after uncharacteristically getting disqualified in the first race of the season. Dejected and disappointed, Lurz certainly made up for the first red card of his career. He turned his displeasure and red card in Santos, Brazil to an unprecedented season of success.

He steamrolled to an unprecedented 4 open water swimming medals at the FINA World Championships and culminated his season with another World Cup series championship. Add it up - 45 km of racing against the world's best in Barcelona - and Lurz proved why he was the best…and why all that Battle Training was well worth the effort. Never in the history of aquatic sports has anyone raced in such close proximity to their competitors over such long distances and been so successful.

It was a total mastery of elite open water swimming from 5 km to 25 km: 4 swims and 4 medals…but it was based on the day-to-day intensity that he showed in the pool and in his dryland training. It was unprecedented and a tribute to Lurz's tenacity towards training, passion for punishment, and capacity for competitiveness.

The 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year nominees include:

1. Alexander Brylin, Ice Swimmer from Siberia (Russia)
2. Damián Blaum, Around The World Marathoner (Argentina)
3. Darren Miller, Achieving the Oceans Seven (U.S.A.)
4. Doug Woodring, Energetic Environmentalism (Hong Kong)
5. Glen Christiansen, Recovering from Trauma (Sweden)
6. Jim McConica, Ageless Wonder (U.S.A.)
7. Jose Diaz, Horizontes Sin Fronteras (Spain)
8. Mally Richards, 60 Years In The Making (South Africa)
9. Oussama Mellouli, Olympic Ambassador (Tunisia)
10. Pádraig Mallon, Extraordinaire Event Director & Swimmer (Ireland)
11. Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa, Getting Things Strait in Gibraltar (Spain)
12. Thomas Lurz, World Champion (Germany)
13. Tomi Stefanovski, Mastering the Traversee (Macedonia)
14. Vojislav Mijić, Tirelessly Resilient Race Director (Serbia)
15. Wayne Riddin, Midmar Mile Miracle (South Africa)

Online voting takes place here.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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