Courtesy: Eney Jones
Last year while I was walking down the road on the last day of the Flowers Sea Swim, I was dragging my suitcases to make my flight which was immediately after the 5k/10k swim, when a car pulled over and said, “Would you like a ride to the race start?” I was blown away because the driver of the car was Eric Hedlin with his coach Ron Jacks and another swimmer. Hedlin had won the People’s Choice Award for Race of the year in 2013 at World Championships. They were here to race!
Then 5 years later (2018) he placed 2nd at Pan Pacs in the 10k in Japan behind Jordan Wilimovsky and once again at the Flowers Sea Swim, which by the way is an exceptionally beautiful open water swim in which you get to race beside (well behind) these speedsters, he took second again behind Wilimovsky. But this act of kindness was just so lovely and unexpected I decided to find out more about Eric Hedlin.
Is your ability to swim at this very high level for so long due to intellect, patience, strategy, humor, or a combination of all of these things?
I think mentally the thing that helps me the most in open water is how much I love it. My passion keeps me focused during the race and also makes me curious about the race and passively think about how to improve. Also helping me feed my passion is having a coach as passionate and knowledgeable as Ron Jacks.
You seem to have a calm demeanor with the under belly of a warrior, as witnessed in the dogfight of the World Championships between you, Thomas Lurz and Ous Mellouli describe that race and your strategy?
The 5k at Worlds was my second open water race so naturally I didn’t really know what to expect going into it. My strategy in the race was to sit in the pack and see how well I could finish. I was really surprised to say the least with my results.
How do you prepare for races? What are your favorite workouts?
Since every race is so different, every race in open water helps build experience, whatever that might be, Things like pack size, course layout, and water temperature. And my favorite workouts are the ones where I can use my swim MP3’s. I listen to rock, trance, orchestral, rap…pretty much everything but country. I find that I can listen to a pretty laid back playlist even during a difficult set, it relaxes me. I have also found that reac experience has helped me a lot. Race experience is much more important in open water than it is for pool swimming since races differ so much from one to the next.
Mental toughness, is it a trained attribute or in your given nature?
I find my mental toughness is directly correlated with how much I am enjoying what I am doing.
What is a quality about yourself that you value that adds to your racing experience?
I am very competitive and I just love racing. If someone is swimming next to me I feel a burst of energy.
Right now Hedlin is preparing for the Canadian Open Water Trials next week end in the Cayman Islands. Best of luck.