FEATURES,  Features

The Swim Festival Blogs 2019: Ali (1)

The Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival takes place on 14 July. It’s going to be a fabulous day of river fun with a range of activities and retailers celebrating the best of a British summer Sunday by and in the water. In advance of this year’s event, we’re following the preparations of three swimmers as they get ready to take on one of the Festival challenges, and offer them advice to make the best of the day.

Find out more about the Outdoor Swimmer Henley Swim Festival

(And remember to book your place before the end of April when prices go up)

Introducing Ali

Ali Turner (41) works in business marketing, has done a few triathlons with open water swims but the Henley Mile will be his first “pure” open water swimming event.

Why did you sign up to the Henley Mile?

I got into outdoor swimming through triathlon, and it’s my favourite discipline, especially the longer forms. I wanted to do a specialised race and while looking around for London-based events, just happened upon the Henley Mile, and decided it wasn’t too far out of the capital for me to get to!

What is your swimming background?

Triathlon; although I’d rather keep it to a longer swim, longer run and less cycling. Moved through to aquathlons, and now I’m giving a specialist event a go

How are you feeling about the challenge? What are you most looking forward to / most dreading?

Invigorated actually, I’m looking forward to it, but have no idea of how long a mile feels on the body. Training will help …

How is your training going?

Honestly? Slow! I’m in the pool but have a way to go to get back to the right longer distances, and I need to book in some open water swims soon!

Simon says:

As a triathlete, you will have experienced the chaos of a mass participation start in an open water swim and, unless you’ve only done sprint distance triathlons (750m swims) I assume you must have swum at least 1500m in open water before. A mile is only just over 100m extra. As long as you can be consistent in your training leading up to the event, I don’t envisage you having too much of a problem. One question I have is, are you looking just to complete the swim or are you planning to race? Either way, I’d keep the following in mind:

  • Firstly, although I haven’t seen you swim, I’m guessing that as you came to open water through triathlon you haven’t got a swimming club background as a child. You could therefore have a lot of potential to swim faster and with less effort through improving your technique. I’d therefore suggest booking yourself a couple of video analysis sessions with an experienced coach and using part of your time in the water to work on technique based on what you learn through the video analysis.
  • When it comes to the event itself, remember this isn’t a triathlon. In triathlon, people often sprint the first part of the swim. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, it can help you with your drafting tactics later in the swim if you can attach yourself to the back of a pack of faster swimmers. Two, if there is a relatively short distance to the first turn buoy, it can be advantageous to be ahead of the bulk of the swimmers. At Henley, you don’t need to worry about the second as it’s a straight line course and the first is a high risk strategy that I would avoid unless you’ve specifically trained for it and have lots of racing experience. In other words, I recommend starting at a controlled moderate pace to ensure you don’t blow up after 200m.

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.