Going Backwards To Swim  Forwards: Tips from Tina

Going Backwards To Swim Forwards: Tips from Tina

Tina Neill is an American marathon swimmer and was named one of the World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women by the World Open Water Swimming Association. She is also a member of the 24-Hour Club and has achieved the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in both freestyle and backstroke with several additional records and noteworthy accomplishments in the open water. She is currently the Queen of the Catalina Channel with six Catalina Channel crossings under her swim cap.

I have always wondered how did Tina practically swim across the English Channel and Catalina Channel backstroke?” pondered Steven Munatones.  “Where was her escort boat positioned?  How often did she look at her paddlers or kayakers in the Catalina Channel or her escort boat in the English Channel?  How much did she use your legs on backstroke?  What is more tiring: swimming freestyle or swimming backstroke over that 32-33 km distance for her arms, legs, and core?  And, most interestingly, how did she finish on the rocks or shore?

Neill explained how she was able to swim backstroke across both the English Channel and Catalina Channel, “The backstroke crossings of Catalina and the English Channel were swum during many dark hours so sighting of the escort boat was easier. Swimming alongside a marine vessel 20-50 feet is simple.  There were no escort kayaks for any of those swims.

For the English Channel and the first Catalina crossing, we did extend a pole with backstroke flags off of the side. I did not feel like that helped much.  I swam alongside an escort kayaker. I kept my back toward the finish during feeds and crawled backward up the rocks and backed out where there was a beach.

My backstroke and freestyle crossings felt the same. I do kick a little more on my back. I tend to overthink at times during training, but when it comes to the swim, I tend to just go.

The Manhattan Island Marathon Swim was probably the most difficult to swim backstroke. I only had a kayak to sight off of because the vessel was behind me. It was all daylight and we put a bike flag on the kayak, but it didn’t help much because there were so many colors and buildings in the background. It all blended together. The sights you see swimming backstroke and swimming under all of those bridges was pretty cool.”

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Steven Munatones