Great Swimming in Great Britain

Great Swimming in Great Britain

At the British Gas Great East Swim in Alton Water in Suffolk, England this weekend, Colin Hill and Andy Caine have brought together another stellar field of international open water swimming stars to compliment the 3,000 swimmers of all ages and backgrounds who will take to the lacks, lochs and docks in the first of the 2010 British Gas Great Swim Series.

In the elite men’s field, 2-time British Olympian James Goddard (fourth in the 200 backstroke in 2004) and sixth in the 200 individual medley in 2008), Australian 25K world champion Brendan Capell, 3-time Olympian and English Channel world record holder Petar Stoychev of Bulgaria, Australian Olympian Ky Hurst, a 7-time Australian Ironman champion, Czech Jan Posmourny, the Czech national 5K champion, pool Olympian Tom Vangeneugden of Belgium, American Barton Wells, 7th-ranked FINA World Cup swimmer, fastest British swimming triathlete Richard Stannard, British Long Distance Swimming Association champion Chris Suggitt and Lewis Coleman, a British national champion pool swimmer, will present a formidable field.

In the women’s field, superstar British Olympic medalists Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten will headline a fast field with Olympian Jana Pechanova of the Czech Republic, British world championship swimmer Katy Whitfield, Czech national champion Silvie Rybarova, 6th-ranked FINA World Cup swimmer Heidi George from America, the, top ten Great Swims finisher Alice McCall of Great Britain and top Irish triathlete Emma Stannard.

The 1-mile all-out open water sprint is a great preparation for the British, Bulgarian and Czech open water swimmers who will be going to the World Open Water Swimming Championships in Canada in July.

What we greatly respect about the Great British approach to open water swimming is the fact that Open Swimming Performance Manager Mark Perry is always looking to learn and search for good competition for his athletes – anywhere and in any format to prepare them for anything that can occur anytime in any race.

He recently flew to California to attend the first Global Open Water Swimming Conference to learn what the global open water swimming community is doing and where it is heading as well as to scout the USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships.

He also encourages, supports and develops Britain’s best swimmers – making no distinction between pool and open water athletes – to give open water swimming a shot. As a result, the pool of open water talent in Great Britain runs deep – arguably even better than Russia – positioning Great Britain for a run of medals in 2012, 2016 and beyond.

What we also highly admire about the British approach to open water swimming is that its top triathletes are also willing to give it a go against the top swimmers.

They do not shy away from world-class competition in the water.

This sense of challenge can only help these triathletes sharpen their skills in the open water and become more competitive in the long-run in their own sport.

Pool, triathlon, open water – the British mix them all up, encourage competition, enabling their best athletes to become comfortable and competitive in all forms of swimming. As a result, they put themselves in a position to win.

A very smart approach. A unique approach. And, perhaps, a gold medal approach.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones