It's No Holliday Being A Pace Swimmer In The Open Water

It’s No Holliday Being A Pace Swimmer In The Open Water

Simon Holliday is a successful English Channel swimmer, but he is about to take upon a significantly more daunting task as a pace swimmer.

Holliday will swim at the side of Dan Martin during the swim leg of his Global Triathlon.

The humble endurance athlete will swim a few hours every day, side-by-side with Martin to keep him company and to maintain a positive morale, “although Dan has called me ‘Decoy’ (for sharks).”

His role, getting in and out of the water, quietly enduring a grueling 5,700 km stage swim across the Atlantic Ocean. It will be a tough duty to stay constantly positive while getting in and out of the water on a moving boat for months on end. But if all goes well, Martin will become the first individual in history to literally swim across the Atlantic Ocean…with Holliday at his side.

The role of a pace swimmer is not easy. The rules are not difficult: do not swim in front of a swimmer and do not allow the soloist to draft with a laser-like focus always on the soloist.

Pace swimmers take a close-up gauge of the soloist’s physical and mental conditions and then report the findings to the rest of the escort crew. They are sensitive to the soloist’s mental outlook and do not laugh, smile, eat, play around or talk if that is not what the soloist wants. They swim at the pace of the soloist, allowing the soloist to set the pace – not vice versa. If they are specifically instructed to swim faster by the soloist, then they must speed up. They must allow the soloist to give verbal instructions or take the lead.

Synchronization and support are key, on the physical, emotional and psychological levels. The soloist is the star and the pace swimmer is the stage hand…like a sherpa helping a climber without renumeration.

It is a lot of heavy lifting involved for the success of the soloist is the ultimate goal.

Photo of Simon Holliday courtesy of Dan Martin.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones