Hugh Brasher, Event Director for London Marathon Events, says: “Our aim is to grow Swim Serpentine into the largest open water swimming event in the UK. The Serpentine is a wonderful location for open water swimming and is famous worldwide through the London 2012 Olympic Games.”
Among the invited athletes will be 2016 British Olympian Jack Burnell. He will compete against other elite athletes on the second day of Swim Serpentine at the British Open Water Swimming Championships. On the first day of Swim Serpentine, 6,000 participants are expected to take part in the 1-mile swim.
We asked Burnell, who has proven himself to be one very cool, calm and collected character in high-pressure international competitions, some questions regarding his preparation for the 2016 Rio Olympics:
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Congratulations on your emergence as one of the podium favourites for the 2016 Rio Olympic 10 km marathon swim. Great Britain has won 2 silvers and a bronze at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics marathon swim. What would it mean to you to become the first British gold medalist in the marathon swim?
Jack Burnell: It would be a combination of a lot of hard work from not just myself, but my coaching staff, my support staff, and my parents who have put a lot of time and effort into it. It would mean a lot to those people as well, so it would mean a lot to give back to them. It’s about showing that all the hard work and dedication we’ve all put in to get to this stage has all been worth it.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What individuals (coaches, parents, siblings, teammates, friends, relatives) have helped you get to this point? And why?
Jack Burnell: My parents. I used to live in Scunthorpe and used to train in Lincoln which is an hour away and my parents used to drive an hour there and an hour back at 5:30 in the morning and wait for me to train and then drive me back. They’d do the same in the evening after school from about 9-10 years old. That was predominantly in the pool. The commitment and time that my parents have put in is unbelievable and I can only say thank you for that. Getting the medal would be great to say thank you.
My dad, he was the one who got me into all sports – not just swimming. football, tennis, cricket, everything. So I would come home from school and not know what sport I was doing that night. I just loved it, but I got to the point where I needed to specialise. Swimming was the one I really enjoyed so got into that a lot more – it was a natural progression.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: We know that elite swimmers train back and forth and back and forth across a pool, but what are a few of your most unusual pool workouts?
Jack Burnell: Predominantly I train in the pool, I don’t do a lot of open water training because it’s not really possible in the UK as it’s too cold. I think for us, the reason we are so strong in the open water is because we are quick at the end of the race which you can only really get from pool training.
I don’t just do distance swimming, we are also in the gym a lot. We do a lot of strength and conditioning, not so much weights, more core stability stuff and body weight training as it’s all about being able to hold a good body position in the water and not getting fatigue and tiring during the race.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How often and how do you use training gear (snorkels, hand paddles, kick board, etc.) during your training? Do you do any altitude training?
Jack Burnell: In training, I use fins and paddles which is great for some drills.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are your pre-race rituals, from the time that you get up to the time the starting gun goes off?
Jack Burnell: I like to listen to a bit of dance music before my race just to get me going really. I enjoy that before the race, I like to take myself away from everyone in order to get focused before the race. I also like to get a bit nervous. I’m not a nervous person, but it really helps. You have to get some nerves in as it gets the adrenalin going. So I just think about what I’m about to do and the competition and then draw on those nerves rather than get worried by them. I don’t get anxious about the race; it’s more about excitement and using that to my advantage.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What bothers you most during a competition? And why?
Jack Burnell: Nothing particularly. I enjoy the physicality of racing and the intensity of racing. Racing is what I love to do, so nothing really phases me.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Without sharing the details of your race strategy, what can you do to beat Jordan Wilmovsky, Allan do Carmo and Spiros Gianniotis?
Jack Burnell: We know how they all swim as I’ve raced them all before, so I know how to beat them. We have thought a lot about what they’ve done previously, but you can’t base it completely on that as the sport changes. So all I can do is go in there the best prepared that I can be.
Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How many more years do you foresee yourself in the sport of open water swimming, either on an elite competitive level or as a masters swimmer or just at the fitness level?
Jack Burnell: That is a complete unknown. I think after the Olympics, I will just see how it went and what opportunities might arise and where we can go from there. I am not fixing a date on how long I will be swimming.
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