Open Water Swimming On The Road, In The Air

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Mark Perry has traveled the world leading, mentoring, motivating and coaching swimmers from Great Britain and Canada.

In June 2017, Perry was appointed Swimming Canada’s first Distance/Open Water Coach as part of Canada’s plan to develop and realize Canada’s medal potential in distance freestyle events – and has not slowed down.

During 2018, which he has called a blast, he boarded 107 air flights to 16 countries including Canada, England, France, Germany, South Africa, Korea, Qatar, Seychelles, USA, Spain, Mallorca, Cayman Islands, Japan, Cyprus, Israel, and the UAE. He spent a total of 242 nights in a hotel throughout the year, including 211 nights in foreign countries.

He works as hard as the athletes who he coaches,” observed Steven Munatones. “He was a former butterflyer, so hard work is embedded in his DNA. He sets the standard for everyone around him. Additionally and very importantly for his athletes, he is also a strategic thinker, a motivator, and a detailed planner.”

We are exposing all our current distance swimmers to open water. We are trying to find the next generation of people,” Perry explained. Exposure means training and travel – specifically for 800m and 1500m freestylers, 400m medley and 200m butterfly specialists.

Tougher events,” he describes the races favored by swimmers who he likes to recruit. “Swimming distance in the pool you have to be mentally tough. Then swimming distance in the open water arena is a much harder mental task. You have to cope with the weather, temperature fluctuations, wildlife. You don’t know what is going to be there until race day quite often.”

In addition to his foreign travel, he travels a lot within Canada. “In my experience, when people actually give [open water swimming] a go, they kind of fall in love with it. The majority of people who try [open water swimming] actually do enjoy it. Whether they are any good at it is a different matter.

One of the things we are going to try and do is be more technologically savvy, be more scientific in our approach to the race, actually be more professional in the way we look at the sport
,” said Perry. “I don’t think there is really anyone in the world who is looking at the sport in that way.

The idea is our athletes are the most informed and most knowledgeable athletes at the race. They get confidence from that. They understand exactly what the race involves, what the weather is going to be, where the tides are, what the currents are.

[Open water swimming] is a much more cerebral challenge. There are a huge number of different tactics that come into play. You have five or six different things up your sleeve you can turn to at any point during a race depending on what other people do

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Steven Munatones