Tag Archives: long distance swimming

Monday Morning Motivation: Sarah Thomas

5 Mar Sarah Thomas

Most people will never swim a mile (64 lengths), so the thought of swimming 100 consecutive miles is incomprehensible, but that’s exactly what Sarah Thomas did in August last year. She swam further than anyone has ever swum before without the aid of currents.

Sarah Thomas

A Colorado athlete was the first person to swim at least 100 consecutive miles

What kind of dedication and training does it take to accomplish an incredible feat like this? Most days, Sarah Thomas gets up at 5am to train and swims 5-6000m before going to work. I’m not a competitive swimmer, but I swim quite a lot and I’ve only ever swum 5000m three times. However, even a strong swimmer will take over an hour to complete 5000m swimming at race pace. It took Thomas three days and nights to cover 104 miles, nonstop. She had to stay awake for 67 hours. “Not sleeping was the hardest part,” she admits.

Another part of the challenge that cannot be overlooked is the need to stay fuelled and hydrated. The crew used a long pole to pass her caffeinated energy drinks at the twice-hourly feed stops — Marathon Swimming Federation rules forbid swimmers from touching the support boat. When Thomas had had enough of sports drinks they substituted her favourite food, risotto.

Thomas is a surprisingly modest swimmer. She doesn’t seek out publicity and many of her amazing feats of endurance swim(such as 2016’s 82 mile swim) have received little press coverage. She doesn’t even have a sponsor.

The longest ever open water swim was 139.8 miles in the Adriatic by Veljko Rogosic, but his swim was current-assisted. There are currently only three swimmers who have completed “current-neutral” swims of 63 miles or more. Interesting they are all female – possibly because women have a higher percentage of body fat which helps with buoyancy and insulation. (Official open water swims do not allow wetsuits). An alternative theory is that women have increased confidence and mental strength when it comes to open water swimming and have learnt that they are able to beat men.

Thomas did so well in her challenge that she caused herself a problem – she ended up so far ahead of schedule that she finished at night instead of in daylight. This meant that strip lights had to be set up to guide her into the slipway!

When asked about her future goals, Thomas responded, “I don’t think I’ll try to swim further… there are a lot of fun and challenging swims to do between one and 104 miles.”

Sarah Thomas – 104-mile Lake Champlain Swim (raw footage) from MSF on Vimeo.

Monday Morning Motivation – Marilyn Bell

29 Feb
Front page of The Globe and Mail, September 10, 1954

Front page of The Globe and Mail, September 10, 1954

Marilyn Grace Bell Di Lascio is a retired Canadian long distance swimmer. She was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario in 1954 and (at the time of completion in 1955) was the youngest person to swim the English Channel. In 1956 she swam the Strait of Juan de Fuca, before retiring from distance swimming… however, her story doesn’t end there.

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal has now taken up the story again, 60 years after Marilyn’s last distance swimming feat. It’s a great article about how a 98 year old has persuaded Bell Di Lascio back into the water: A Swimming Hero Relearns How to Swim

I’m impressed by the goal that Bell Di Lascio has set for her 80th birthday – let’s hope she achieves it!

Sinking not swimming…

7 Feb

This year I need to focus on my swimming. A month of 2015 has gone by and I’ve really not achieved very much yet. If I’m going to complete the Scilly Swim Challenge, I’m going to need to start pushing myself soon.

I have to be able to swim a mile in 40 mins (consistently), which is just under 25 mins per km. My average for January was 26:32/km which isn’t good enough. I also only swam 2.8km in the whole month*. That’s the least I’ve swum in a month since I got my Garmin 910XT at Christmas in 2013. I’ve already swum 2km so far this month, so I should be able to surpass my January achievements.

*Maybe I should cut myself a little slack as I wasn’t allowed to swim for most of January as a consequence of having laser eye surgery in December.

cyanide and happiness laser eye surgery

I’m trying to work out what I should do as training for the Scilly Swim Challenge – I’ve got 30 weeks (7 months), but in that time, I need to train for: my cycling trip to Japan, Southampton Half Marathon and Ironman Dublin 70.3.

I’ve had a look at various training plans online:

The recommendation seems to be that I need to swim at least 15-20km a week. As a minimum, I want to be able to swim 6km in one go, so I’m going to need to get myself to the lake for a lot of open water swimming. However, the lake doesn’t open until April and I know that my lungs really dislike me being in cold water.

If anyone can recommend a training schedule (either online or a book), I’d love to hear from you. I’ve read plenty of training plans for iron distance swimming (3.8km) and for 5km swims, but there’s not a lot out there for the distance I want to do.

Several of the sites that I’ve read whilst looking for information have said that cycling and running won’t really help with swimming, but that Pilates or yoga will. I’ve not been able to go to yoga for a year now, but I’d love to go back. One of my yoga teachers has shared some short practices online. This one, yoga for neck and shoulder tension, is a nice five-minute practice:

If you enjoyed that, Laura has a YouTube channel, so you might want to subscribe.

I’m also on the look out for a new wetsuit. My 2XU wetsuit has done me well for the last couple of years, but it’s now too big for me, so I’m searching for something that fits me better, to get me through the 2015 season (and hopefully beyond!) I know that it will come down to what is available in my size, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on different brands and models.

If nothing else works, I’m hoping that this TED Talk by the completely awesome long distance swimmer Diana Nyad will inspire me to get back in teh water more frequently. It’s called ‘Never, ever give up’:


Stuart is doing the Scilly Swim Challenge with me. This event will take both of us out of our comfort zone, so we’re hoping to raise some money for an important charity (Chestnut Appeal for Prostate Cancer) along the way. If you’d like to sponsor us, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/TamsynandStuswim/

Monday Morning Motivation – The marvellous Mimi Hughes

18 Aug

Mimi Hughes is an American long-distance swimmer who has crossed the Bering Strait and swum the length of many rivers, including: the Tennessee, the Danube, the Drava and the Mura.

Mimi Hughes

Mimi was interviewed by GOTRIbal: http://www.gotribalnow.com/blog/mimi-hughes-long-distance-swimmer-interview

To get herself through her long distance swims, Mimi relies on many motivational sayings, such as:

  • When you decide to give yourself to a cause, you must arrive at the point where no sacrifice is too great.
  • It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves.
  • To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream, not only plan but also believe.
  • The basic tenet of democracy is an individual’s ability to make a difference.
  • Freedom means accepting—not forfeiting responsibility.
  • When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, “I used everything you gave me. – Erma Bombeck
  • Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance. – Bruce Barton
  • Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.  – Napoleon Hill
  • Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. – Saint Francis of Assisi
  • Faith is the heroic effort of your life. Face anything you have to face without wavering. Matt 10-27
  • The evils that we hate, you no less than I, cannot be overcome with shrugs and sighs and shakes of the head no matter how wise. They but mock us and grow more bold when we retreat before them and take refuge in the affirmation of man’s tragic average. To believe that new evils will arise as vicious as the old—to believe that the great Pandora’s box of human suffering, once opened, will never show a diminution of its ugly swarm, is to help by just that much, to make it so, forever. – Thomas Wolfe
  • Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek sinuous full-bodied animal. Chasing and chuckling gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, only to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free and were caught and help again. Tired at last, he sat on the bank while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world sent from the heart of the Earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea. – Ken Graham
  • The first and last day of the 1,000 swim (walk) are no different, the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. Your only aim is to achieve your initial purpose, then you can really enjoy what you’ve done. There is no backing out. When you have finished what you set out to do, you have created something of value. – Sakai Yusai
  • Never look back—be forever mindful of others and always keep the eyes set on the way. Do this and there is nothing that can’t be accomplished. – Sakai Yusai
  • Nothing is life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. – Marie Curie
  • Facing it—facing it—always facing it—That’s the way to get through it. Face it! – Joseph ConradMake it a point to do something everyday that you don’t want to do. This is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.  – Mark Twain
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