So what does it take to win the 10K at the USA Swimming open water national? Certainly amazing conditioning, speed, mental fortitude and a even a splash of luck can play a part. Last year it came together for Christine Jennings at Lake Castaic for the title in the 10K. This year she’s certainly focused and determined to repeat her title and score the trip to the Pan Pacs. There’s going to be super strong field of women in the hunt for the titles in 2 weeks on the Lake Castaic course and today we here about what Christine thinks about open water swimming.
What differentiates an Open Water Nationals from pool nationals (aside from the fact that it’s open water)?
One thing is that the focus tends to be different then pool nationals where you race over a course of several days in prelims and finals. Focusing on one race is easier for me. Also, the preparation before a race tends to be a monotonous routine that distracts you from any worries as well as providing a calming effect. Finally, I think it is different in that a mistake doesn’t always necessarily determine the outcome. During a 2 hour race you can mess up and still be in the race, there are always ways to make up for it, as long as you don’t give up or talk yourself out of the race. It’s just the finish you have to nail down.
Do you think there’s a different bond amongst open water swimmers?
For sure. Not only do I have great friends from the US that I get to see at a majority of my races, but I’ve also made some wonderful friends from around the world. I look forward to World Cup races because I get to see everyone again. For example, Yumi is one of my best friends and she is from Japan. I love racing against her and learning Japanese in my spare time is always fun!
Do you think open water swimming is changing? If so, in what ways?
Open Water swimming has seen both a constant and positive growth in all aspects of the sport since 2010. There has been more active participation from veterans as well as newcomers and more investment in the sport from our NGB and FINA concerning safety during races. There is a draw of open water that sparks a curiosity in anyone who is looking for excitement or a new challenge.
Racing 5K, 10K and 25K is intense. How do you stay motivated between races?
I’ll admit it is hard to stay motivated between races. I’d prefer to be out there racing then training any day! There are points where training is very important to get a good base, but you can also get really good fitness bumps from competing as well. I think as the year progresses I tend to get out and compete as much as possible. It is very good for me mentally and as I found out last year got me in better shape then training did. I did nine 10Ks, one 5K, a 25K, 16K, 19.5K and a mile race last year from January to October. I loved doing it and can’t wait to get back up and racing again at US Nationals!
Do you every wish you were a sprinter?
Yes! That is until I have to do one of their hard sets. I’ve learned that you can’t just ignore training your sprint because you swim a 2 or 6 hour race. You still need to be able to change speeds anytime during a race to make a move or to finish strong.
What do you want people to know about open water swimming?
Everybody who I have ever talked to that has never seen an Open Water race has believed it to be pointless or boring. 100% of those people changed their minds after watching one.
Mike Lewis is a freelance commercial, sport and lifestyle photographer based in San Diego. Mike began making photos in the early 80’s and immersed himself in all aspects of the photographic arts. Mike’s professional career in in photography began after 12 years working within the United States Olympic movement; he …