Mermaid And Mermen Take The Distance Swim Challenge

Mermaid And Mermen Take The Distance Swim Challenge

Besides the Olympian vs. Olympian vs. world champion race that will highlight the Distance Swim Challenge in Santa Monica, California, the personable and ever-energetic Eney Jones will come down from her Rocky Mountain retreat to compete in the 12.6-mile ocean swim.

Eney is a former top swimmer at the University of Florida, a 20-time finalist at the USA Swimming national pool championships and a top ocean swimmer who has won all kinds of open water swims including the masters world championship 5K.

Eney will take off in the 12.6-mile race with American Olympian Mark Warkentin, Australian Olympian Ky Hurst and Australian world 25K champion Brendan Capell. With a forecast that is calling for a current going against the wind, it may turn out to be a bumpy course for all with whitecaps in the later half of the race after a long morning of large ocean swells.

Under such conditions, the Aussie duo will probably throw some strategic moves on Mark. But Mark, who took down the English Channel world record holder in a special mano-a-mano match race (45K) around New York City last month, may push the pace with four hours of a 80+ stroke-per-minute pace enhanced with a strong four-beat kick. On the other hand, with surf pounding the California coastline and 8 required ins-and-outs at the onshore transitions, the Aussies will use their surf prowess to their advantage.

But surf, swells and whitecaps are not foreign to Mark who grew up along the Santa Barbara coast. For fans of endurance sports, it should be a classic race that comes down to the wire and whomever catches the last wave with the fastest run up the beach.

We can imagine the race shaping up like this: Mark will take it out and push the pace challenging Brendan and Ky to stay up. In that case, Ky and Brendan will stay right behind the toes of Mark between the stages, but then sprint to out-bodysurf him as the surf comes crashing down at the end of each of the 8 stages. They will hustle up the soft sand through the transition area and go racing down the shore to dolphin through the expectd 3-4 foot surf. Between the sets, it is most likely they will fall back into place.

Both of these strategies utilize the athlete’s specific strengths. But like boxers and chess masters, what is obvious and natural, is not always done. We fully expect to Expect the Unexpected.

Each of these athletes can perform very well in rough water. Each of them can swim fast in calm waters. Mark is better suited for a cold-water swim, but each of them will wear wetsuits so there is a level playing ground. Ky is probably the best at open water navigation, but each of them will have a kayaker so there is a level playing ground. Brendan is the most experienced at swimming long distances, but since the course runs parallel to the coast, there is not much of an advantage there. Of course, he is the tallest and if there is a low tide at the end of the race, he will be able to dolphin through the shallows faster than his shorter rivals.

The race may literally come down to the experience and ocean awareness of their kayakers. After being on each other’s feet for over 4 hours, they may separate a bit between the final two stages. Mark, Brendan and Ky can stay fully engaged, mentally alert and focused for hours on end – whether the surf is pumping or the currents are running in the opposite direction. What will be interesting to see is if Mark, Brendan and Ky stick by their kayakers towards the end – or decide to go off on their own chosen course around the Santa Monica Pier. In any case, the race will probably come down to who catches the best wave to the finish and who has the best run up the beach.

Copyright © 2010 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones