What If?  Alex Meyer

What If? Alex Meyer

We asked professional marathon swimmer, 25 km world champion, and Olympian Alex Meyer from Harvard University a series of “What if?” questions about his racing at the elite level from 5 km to 25 km.

Here are his thoughtful and interesting answers:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What if you saw a shark underneath you at an ocean swim? What would you do?

Alex Meyer: I want to say that I would just stay calm and keep swimming along, but I would most likely be pretty freaked out. I’ve been close to sharks while scuba diving before and it wasn’t at all scary, but this seems different. I guess I’d just stay in the pack or find a way to get in one. If I was swimming alone, I’d sprint to shore.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What if you had a half body lead on Ous Mellouli with 100 meters to go in the Olympic final at the 2016 Rio Olympics? What would you do?
Alex Meyer: I can’t say exactly how, and honestly I don’t know right now. There’s no way to know for sure what you would do unless you’re in that moment. What I can say is that it’s important to take advantage of your own strengths and your opponents’ weaknesses. When you compare two athletes like Ous and me, our strengths and weaknesses are very different. It would be quite a challenge for me to outsprint him, but very possible.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What if someone elbowed you hard without the referee seeing? What would you do?
Alex Meyer: Most of the time when you get hit, it’s not intentional, though it’s fairly easy to tell the difference between an accidental bump and an intentional malicious blow. While retaliation may seem satisfying in the moment, it can really suck the energy out of you getting involved in petty squabbles. Chances are that guy isn’t a top contender anyway, so let him waste his energy and don’t waste yours. Get your revenge by hitting the finish pad first.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What if you were asked to swim across the English Channel? What would you do?
Alex Meyer: Right now I enjoy the thrill of racing over doing long solo swims against the clock. I swim against the clock enough in training. However, if the swim was financed or sponsored by someone and there was an appealing incentive to do it well, then I would absolutely consider it.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What if you were stung by a jellyfish in a race? What would you do?
Alex Meyer: Well, after the thousands of jellyfish stings I’ve had before, I’ve kept swimming. Though fortunately, I’ve never been stung by any of the really bad ones like the box jellies. That doesn’t sound fun.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What if Thomas Lurz attempted a breakaway at the 5 km mark in a 10 km race? What would you do?
Alex Meyer: This is not exactly Thomas’ style…he likes to sneak up from 5th-10th position into 1st over the last 1000m or so, but if he attempted a breakaway, I would definitely chase after him. With a strong swimmer like Thomas, you don’t let them get too far away…unless you don’t mind losing.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What if your goggles came off around a turn buoy in a large pack of swimmers? What would you do?
Alex Meyer: I would definitely not stop next to the buoy to fix them! I’d swim at least another 20-30 meters after things have calmed down a bit to roll onto my back and clear the water out. I always wear my goggles underneath my cap, but if they came completely off? I always keep a spare pair at feed stations, so I’d pick them up there.

Photo shows Alex Meyer being congratulated by Fran Crippen and Eva Fabian after his 2010 25 km world championship victory in lac St-Jean, Quebec, Canada.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association