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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gen X Looking To Test Time

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Wayne Soutter has convinced a group of 40-year-olds that it is possible to take down one of the longest standing records in the open water swimming world.

Back in 1990, a group of world champions (male and female) coached by two of the most experienced individuals in the world set a relay record across the English Channel (see here).

Americans Jay Wilkerson, Chad Hundeby, Martha Jahn, Karen Burton, Dirk Bouma, and Sid Cassidy set not only the long-standing England-to-France relay record in 6 hours 52 minutes, but they also set the France-to-England relay record coming back in the second leg of their two-way crossing in 7 hours 26 minutes. The sextet of Americans remain the fastest overall one-way and the fastest overall 2-way relay (England-to-France-to-England) team in history in 14 hours 18 minutes in 1990.

The 1990 team was stacked with talent, expertise and experience, both in the water and on the escort boat deck with Catalina Channel and English Channel record-holder Penny Dean serving as the head coach and Catalina Channel record-holder and English Channel swimmer John York serving as the assistant coach.

But the Total Immersion in the English Channel (or The EC6) team is out to show that age does not matter in the English Channel. The group of six 40-somethings are fast and fit. Unlike their younger counterparts in 1990, they will have the advantage of modern GPS technology. While fast twitch muscles may be in lesser supply, the maturity of life can certainly help in a crossing of the English Channel.

The members include former English Channel record holder Christof Wandratsch, masters 1500m world record holder Kirsten Cameron, US Olympic Trials qualifier Steve West, All-American masters swimmer Bernie Zeruhn, British national masters champions Andrew Chamberlain and Dave Warren. Its coaching consultant is Terry Laughlin with sponsorship by Total Immersion and Elivar Sports Nutrition.

As the group of Gen X'ers continue to squeeze in tough distance freestyle workouts before and after work and their family responsibilities, they are just one example of the changing mindset of society. Lunch time at work is now time to rush over to the pool. Kids sleeping in on Saturday now presents an opportunity to head to the pool and do a distance set. Vacation time provides a chance to do several days of doubles.

The 40-year-olds' joy at being able to compete and test themselves against the elements while balancing work and life demonstrates the new kind of mindset that an increasing number of middle-aged individuals have around the world.

They have 6 hours 52 minutes to show how fast fit 40-year-olds can really swim in the English Channel. But their ultimate goal is to finish the attempt and stand as a team that give it their all.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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