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Sunday, July 19, 2015

48 Years Old And In His Prime

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Benoît Lecomte explained about his preparations - both mental and physical for this year's The Longest Swim, an unprecedented 8,000 km stage swim from Tokyo to San Francisco that he estimates will take 180 straight days of swimming 8 hours per day.

Lecomte summarized his training, "It involves many years of preparation. It is more than just a swim; it involves many subjects and people coming together from different corners: education, research, media...and of course training...with plenty of meditation and dissociation.

The intensity of my training is not to be compared with the training of Olympic swimmers which includes speed, intervals, strength. When I train, my heartbeat stays around 120 bpm.

I use fins because it allows me to use the biggest muscle group in our body (legs) rather than the shoulders - when swimming without fins, most of the power comes from the work of the shoulders. This allows me to save my shoulders where most of the injuries happen for swimmers. So even if the numbers are huge (note: it is estimated he will take 8.6 million leg kicks across the Pacific Ocean), how does that compare with the number of steps taken by a person walking for 8 hours per day over 180 days? Plus kicking in the water requires less energy than walking and less impact since we are not carrying our weight.

Yes, it is challenging but it is a low-impact activity and at a low intensity.

The challenge is more mental than physiologic. I know that first hand from my swim in the Atlantic Ocean. The most difficult issue was to keep on going the same thing days in and days out and to find the motivation to keep on going. On the physical aspect, when I finished I did not have any major issues that would have prevented me from keeping on swimming.

When you look at the age of people doing ultra distance - both swimming and running - the best one are in their late 40's early 50's. When Martin Strel swam the Amazon River, he was 52-53. The reason for that is that when we age, we lose speed and strength but not our endurance ultra, in some cases we can even improve it. Plus as we age, we become much stronger mentally and this last point alone makes all the difference; how far can you push yourself.

We can all relate to that and remember that at a young age we were all about instant gratification. But as we age, we realize we can stretch out that "instant". It is all about mind over matter and changing mindsets. I turned 48 last month, I am in my prime

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Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

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