Courtesy of WOWSA, English Channel.

Rene Martínez Saenz completed the English Channel earlier this month to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. He discusses his experiences during the journey:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When did you start swimming?

Rene Martínez: I began to swim as an ammateur pool swimmer when I was in 1st grade in Mexico and did local state and national competitions. But it was all at a middle level.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was your first adventure in the open water?

Rene Martínez: Swimming with Nora Toledano, Antonio Argüelles, Dan Simonelli and Tom Hecker at La Jolla Cove Swim Club in San Diego, California.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What attracts you to channel crossings and marathon swims?

Rene Martínez: Firstly, to be part of the greatest natural environment, our sea. Secondly, to have the opportunity to learn about our human limits and capabilities. Once you have experienced any of this, you realize that even though our body is our most valuable asset/tool, the people who support and encourage you to do whatever you set to accomplish are your most valuable asset and motivation when you are all aligned to the same purpose/goal.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Who did you have on your escort boats for the English Channel, Catalina Channel and 20 Bridges?

Rene Martínez: For the English Channel, Captain Michael Oram, coach Nora Toledano, and the support crew of Josune Mondragon and Ursus Gonzalez.

For the Catalina Channel, my escort boat was Bottom Scratcher with Captain Dave Simermann. My coach was Nora Toledano with the support crew of Josune Mondragon, Jorge Cervera, Kristy Kowal, Ariadna Del Villar and Rene Martínez Cumming. My kayakers included Dan Simonelli and Scott Sutton with Tom Hecker as the main observer.

For 20 Bridges Manhattan Island, coach Nora Toledano, support crew Josune Mondragon, Ariadna Del Villar, Guillermo Saenz, and Jorge Cervera with observer Jia Hung helped me.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you eat the same foods and consume the same drinks on all three Triple Crown swims?

Rene Martínez: Yes, I did. I fed on Accel, Gu, Nuun, and Stinger Gellies. The support crew offered catering.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was the lowest point of each swim, mentally or physically?

Rene Martínez: The Catalina Channel crossing was my first marathon swim experience. Through this swim, I battled against rough ocean swells during the night, and winds and oncoming current made it a much longer swim. I had to utilize my mental strength in order to finish the swim.

Swimming around Manhattan Island was my second marathon swim. My lowest point was to understand the reliability on the natural conditions, we faced low currents which made it a much longer swim [than anticipated]. However, I took it as a great preparation and experience for my English Channel attempt for the following month.

The English Channel was to achieve my main objective. I had already mentally worked out dealing with the currents, the cold water, and the long swim distance. The low point was to materialize and truly acknowledge these obstacles during the hard stages with jellyfish, currents, and cold that I had been learned to deal with during the two years of training. I was aware of the responsibility of everything that was at stake through this project and the process.

Yes, you have to push. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it is cold, but none of this was something I did not know it wouldn’t happen. The most important matter was to acknowledge all the hard work, sacrifices and people who help bring me to this point. Once you understand all of this, the entire swim becomes enjoyable regardless of any pain.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did you get out of those depths and finish?

Rene Martínez: Knowing that I was well trained with the best possible crew, I was mentally prepared and had the will to obtain my objective. I always visualized the finish.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Where and how much did you train for each of your swims?

Rene Martínez: 20 months for all. I took my Catalina Channel crossing and the 20 Bridges around Manhattan Island as part of my training for the English Channel.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did you ever have any doubts of your successes before the swims began?

Rene Martínez: Always, not from a pessimistic point of view, but from a statistical point of view. I was very objective about the odds and took into account the external factors, but I never doubted my capabilities and appropriateness of my training.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What advice do you have of others, especially working adults, when setting out to achieve certain goals in the open water?

Rene Martínez: Get all the help that you can get, but focus on experienced and quality help. Contact an experienced coach, complete the training millage, take good care of your health, plan your feeding program well, acclimatize to the water conditions and temperature, work on your mental weakness and strengths, and go for it.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you have any updates on your marine environmental work?

Rene Martínez: I contribute and raise funds for a marine conservation NGO through my swims. The organization’s name is Pelagic Life, visit

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