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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Adam Torrens, Absolutely Terrified About Peak And Pond

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

There are certain combinations which are very tough to do in the same calendar year:

*Ironman triathlon + Ice Mile
*English Channel crossing + Olympic 10K Marathon Swim
*North Channel crossing + Badwater ultra-marathon run
*warm-water river stage swim + Ice Mile

But the English Channel + Mount Everest summit may be the most challenging and difficult endurance and stamina combination of all. We asked 32-year-old Adam Torrens the following questions regarding his calendar year Peak and Pond Challenge.

"It’s a pretty massive challenge," sums up Nick Adams of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation.

Torrens is a government bus driver in Sydney, Australia where he can be normally found driving the big red bendy bus around Sydney's Eastern Suburbs. "I love my job and my bosses are very flexible with giving me time off work to go on my different adventures which up to this point have been self-funded."

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How do you concurrently train for both an English Channel crossing and a Mount Everest expedition?

Adam Torrens: By suffering.

When you think about attempting the peak and pond in 1 year the first thing that comes to mind is the vast difference in muscles used for each activity. Everest is all about core and legs, while the Channel is all core and arms.

Add to that all of the upper body muscle atrophy that will occur while on the mountain and you are in for a challenging time. But that's kind of the point: the beauty of something is hidden in the struggle.

Having said that, swimming plays a huge part in the preparation of many alpinists. I grew up near [the renowned Australian coach] Dick Caine's swimming club and trained casually in his squads as a youngster Dick Cain was Susie Maroney's coach and the walls of his gym are littered with countless world champions. It's very inspiring to workout there.

To combat the muscle wasting, I'm in the process of working on movements with resistance bands that mimic the freestyle "pull" that I will use when on the mountain and away from the ocean.

Positive psychology? I try to tell myself it will be okay. In High Altitude Mountaineering, you get really cold, and in swimming the English Channel you get really cold as well, so basically it is the same thing.

Upon my return to Sydney, my training will be about getting fluidity and functionality back into my body to help prevent any movement-related injuries that could come from the heavy workload ahead.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is the timing of your two attempts on the English Channel and Mount Everest?

Adam Torrens: The climb will begin around April 5th 2017 and end around June 1st. I plan on arriving in Kathmandu weighing between 72 and 74 kg. Everyone is different, but I move better when I'm light, so leading up to my attempt in 2015 I dropped from about 80 kg to 75 kg. The very best climbers in my opinion are built like greyhounds. Superfluous muscles, although aesthetically pleasing, drain the body of its already scarce oxygen supplies.

As for the Channel, at the moment I plan on arriving in Dover in late August with my attempts to be held in September. Hopefully by that stage, I will be over 85 kg with some warming insulation.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Who is on your English Channel support team (on the escort boat) and who is on your Mount Everest expedition?

Adam Torrens: Both of these are to be finalised.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What has prepared you mentally and physically for both challenges?

Adam Torrens: That is really only a question that one can answer in hindsight, while sitting on a chair in a quiet room and reminiscing about the key ingredients that helped you to be successful.

But I'll give it a go. I'm an alpinist who swims; not a long distance swimmer who climbs if that makes sense. Years in the mountains have prepared me for the technical parts of the climb.

As for the physical aspect, hours and hours trudging up and down the Sandhills of Kurnell with a large pack filled to the brim with sand. Basically walking till my body especially my legs and shoulders cry out NO MORE!

As for the swimming, that's the big Unknown and a key reason I'm doing the climb in 2017. When I get back to Sydney, I have plans to sit and talk to Vlad Swim and Chloë McCardel about my ambitions and see who's ideas and methods about tackling the Channel I feel best suit me.

One problem I have in getting ready for the Channel, is that most Australians who swim the Channel do their 6-hour cold water certification swim in Tasmania or Melbourne in the time period that I will be on the mountain. So I will have to organize that beforehand.

Something that has helped me mentally is becoming a casual acquaintance through the martial art of Jiu Jitsu with the adventurer Justin Jones. Justin along with his friend James Castrission has walked from the the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back unsupported. They have also rowed from Australia to New Zealand. Meeting and talking to him showed me that he is just a man like you and me who prepared thoroughly and had a little luck.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Where do you train for both of these challenges?

Adam Torrens: It involves the following:

*Everest: rock climbing in the blue mountains NSW.
*Endurance: the Sand hills of kurnell.
*When it's cold and windy and you don't feel like doing anything, stair master in a local gym.
*English Channel: laps at the local pool + swimming in the ocean at places like Cooge.

I was a keen surfer as a kid. I wonder if that will help if the waves on the channel are a little choppy. [I laugh with fear and trepidation.]


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Are you sponsored or do you cover the expenses for both challenges?

Adam Torrens: No sponsors as yet, but hopefully I can get some companies who feel what I'm doing is beneficial for their brand and we can work together. Up until now, I just live frugally and fund these adventures myself. I have a modest job and come from a hardworking middle class family. I always find a way.

My goal is to raise funds for the children of Nepal. I've been there twice and have seen what a difference someone like Edmond Hillary made. He set up schools and opened a tiny hospital for the Sherpa.

The Himalayan Trust and the American Himalayan Foundation are my charities of choice at the moment, but I have not formalised anything yet. They seem to be the groups that maximize the donations they receive to do the maximum good.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you have any special or unique training tips?

Adam Torrens: Listen to your body. Work hard when you have the energy and rest when you look in the mirror and see an exhausted reflection.

When I swim in Botany Bay, you can swim quite close to the shore and so my sister walks beside me as I travel along the coast. I enjoy the company and from her end, she's worried I'm going to be eaten by a shark and that somehow by being there she can prevent it. She's great.


Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why?

Adam Torrens: Well firstly I'm absolutely terrified by the task I've set myself. But the impetus for this challenge came about as a result of the 2015 earthquake on Mount Everest.

I was 6,500 meters up (21,000 feet) on the north side of Mount Everest when the first earthquake hit the mountain on the 25th of April, 20 days after my 32nd birthday. The Tibetan Mountaineering Association closed the mountain and evacuated the climbers still at basecamp to Lhasa Tibet.

At first I was pretty devastated as I had been saving up for this climb for a number of years. But as the news filtered in about the magnitude of what had happened to Nepal, most of the selfish thoughts I was having turned to thoughts of compassion for those killed and injured. Before I left the mountain, I promised myself I would be back and also that when I returned the second time it wouldn't be just about me. I wanted to somehow inspire people and in the process raise some money to help the youth of Nepal.

After a few months I realized that climbing Everest just wouldn't cut the mustard so I devised the idea of doing the Peak and Pond in a single year.

So here I am now with a mountain of work to do, but it's very early days. I will attempt this challenge in 2017.

I have a feeling that 2016 is going to be a good year for climbers on Everest, but for me there are too many unknowns about the safety of the mountain and where the dangers lie. Also I wanted the time to set up and begin raising money for my charity.


If anyone wants to get involved his unique and most challenging adventure, Torrens can be contacted at adamspeakandpondchallenge@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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