Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Fernando Possenti, coach of 25 km world champion Ana Marcela Cunha, was honored by FINA at its Soirée des Etoiles in Doha, Qatar last week.

The Brazilian coach swam the 200 butterfly and 200 individual medley until the age of 17 years. Then his life changed and his destiny was set.

In São Paulo at 17, I started teaching classes. Then at 19, I organized a school swim team in Cotia. Our results were good so I started studying physical education at the Universidade Ibirapuera,” recalled the 37-year-old coach who focuses on precisely what his athletes need and improving their weaknesses to make them well-rounded swimmers.

Ana knows very well how to be in the first pack with low energy and good technique.”

The 2-time Olympian knows that positioning, especially in the last kilometer of any race whether it is a 5 km or 25 km, is paramount to success.

She is taking fewer strokes compared to 2 years ago, but she trains for middle distance like a 400 or 800 meters. She knows she needs to reserve more energy and leaves it for the sprint at the end of the race. She does the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit, the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix races, and she swims well every year because she knows the race comes down to the end.

So we train for the sprint. We have 9 sessions a week and we do 3 sprint workouts a week and focus on technique and long distance the rest of the sessions.

We have 8 swimmers in my group, but only 3 are open water. We work a lot with parachutes like doing 6 x 200 pulling [with hand paddles], then 8 x 100 and 8 x 50.

She is already strong, so we need functional training in the water. Ana doesn’t need more muscles; she doesn’t need gym. So we do resistance training in the water. All my athletes do this. We do pulling and kicking with a parachute in the water. We also use a Swiss ball with resistance kicking. Ana kicks for 30 seconds on against a Swiss ball that is being held by someone else. She does this 4 times.

I prefer to do short sets where the athletes concentrate very much.”

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association