Esther Nuñez Morera Honored By International Swimming Hall Of Fame
Video courtesy of Léandre Lapointe, coach of Esther Nuñez Morera at the 2015 Traversée internationale du Lac-St-Jean in Quebec, Canada. Announcement courtesy of Ned Denison, International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.
“To be best of my knowledge, no husband and wife team ever raced simultaneously at the levels that Esther Nuñez and Damiám Blaum have done – for years,” reminisced Steven Munatones. “They would wake up as husband and wife, and then head over to the start of major international professional marathon races – like the Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean – and put lanolin and Vaseline on like all the other competitors. They just got ready, both together and independently. Their partnership and competitiveness were pretty remarkable.”
And like their unique partnership, both Esther Nuñez and Damiám Blaum were inducted as Honor Swimmers in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in the same year, as members of the Class of 2020.
In preparation for their FINA professional circuit races, Argentina’s Blaum and Spain’s Nuñez trained between 80,000 and 90,000 meters per week in order to compete in at least 10 marathon races per year.
Through injuries, soreness, competition, planning and dating between South America and Europe, their partnership is a uniquely grueling, pressure-packed lifestyle where their joint income depended on their overall performances. But neither is alone in practice or in competition.
Back in 2003, both Blaum and Nuñez participated in a championship event in Barcelona. Then in 2004, they both attended another professional marathon swim in Argentina. But they had not met yet. “We did not meet at the first two races where we both swim. We did not speak together at first. It took time, more than one season. First, we became friends and, like the other athletes on the pro circuit, we spent time together. It was nice.”
But fast forward to 2010 and the pair got married. For years, they trained in the same pool under the same coach on the same team. And normally they did the same hard, long, grueling workouts together. “Sometimes our intervals are the same, but sometimes I finish before her. It depends on what we are doing that session,” laughed Blaum.
Their lifestyle is uncommon; their joint training was unparalleled.
When Blaum and Nuñez married, they not only competed in the exact same events around the world, they also even swam with each other during a race in the same pack. That kind of togetherness is unique throughout the entire world of professional sports. But they took it all in stride with the cool detachment of professionals and personalities that perfectly meshed.
“In the water, this is our sport. We are very professional. Each of us tries to do our own work in the pool and open water. When we go home together, we try to not speak about swimming. But in the fINA Grand Prix races where the men and women start together and swim in a pack together for hours, we sometimes swim together. If I can do it in a pack, I can help her in the beginning. Of course, I will allow her to draft off me. I will do it for her, but it is not easy. There are many things happening in a pack. But if she is not in the pack, she may not be having a good race, so I get worried.”
But the worries are far outnumbered by the obvious love they have for one another.
“We do normal things like a couple. I like action movies and she likes romantic movies. She is maybe more relaxed, but I always have to find something to do. I cannot just sit When we have free time, we go to the cinema or to beach. In Spain, we live 30 minutes from the beach, but we have homes in both Spain and Argentina.
She cooks very well and she is a very fast cook. We are lucky because we enjoy a Mediterranean diet with local fish, vegetables, pasta, a normal healthy diet. But when we are in Argentina, I am the manager of the barbeque,” Blaum explains with a characteristically wide smile.
But like every couple, they have their differences. “Her favorite soccer team is Rio Plate; mine is Barcelona. We take the same drink in our races, but I like bananas. She eats sports bars. She takes the window seat on the airplane, I always sit beside her. In the car, it depends. On long drives, I normally take the wheel.”
And they both know what works for them, being of the same mindset, enjoying the same lifestyle, born only a month apart in 1981. We have done the professional marathon circuit for over 10 years and more than 100 races.
“While not always hand-in-hand on dryland, they certainly have gone stroke-for-stroke in some races,” said Steven Munatones about the husband-and-wife Honor Swimmers in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2020. “It is so unusual to see, but so refreshing and romantic in a remarkable way.”
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