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Training sessions for Swimathon by Jolyon Finck – Team GB Olympic Swimming Coach

Swimathon 2018 takes place from 27 to 29 April at swimming pools around the UK. With challenges of up to 5k, which will take even the fastest swimmers an hour to complete, it’s important to do some training. If you’re stuck for ideas or a plan of how to train, then Team GB Olympic Swimming Coach Jolyon Finck has written a series of training sessions for swimmers of all levels that can be found on the Swimathon website. We caught up with Jolyon to ask him how he got involved in Swimathon, why it’s important to train for it, and how much difference can you make in 10 weeks.

Jolyon has been coaching swimmers of all levels for more than 20 years and had degrees in Anatomical Science, Education and Sports Performance Management.

How did you get involved in Swimathon?

I became aware of the excellent works of the Swimathon Foundation when I arrived in Great Britain in 2008. At that time, I was working at Millfield in Somerset, where I had the opportunity to meet prominent Old Millfieldian and Swimathon legend, Duncan Goodhew. Shortly afterwards (circa 2011), I came on board as the Swimathon coach, in an effort to support the Swimathon foundation and hopefully value add to all people who require some help in achieving their Swimathon challenge.

Why is it important to train for Swimathon?

There are a number of reasons that training for the Swimathon challenge is important. From a physical perspective, it is in everyone’s best interest to make sure that you are physically capable of completing the distance that you intend to swim, so as to avoid any possibility of detriment to your physical health. From a motivational perspective, completing a compliment of training prior to the Swimathon challenge may provide the intrinsic satisfaction of covering the distance that you have set out achieve. From an extrinsic perspective, a faster than expected finishing time for a set distance in Swimathon as a result of completing some vigorous training may provide bragging rights around the kitchen table or the water cooler in the office!

How much difference can you make in 10 weeks?

The difference that can be achieved across a ten week period of training and preparation will be different for every individual. For people who have had limited experience of swimming and swimming training, the physical advances in a ten week period could well be quite substantial. For those people who do have a background in swimming, the ten week training period may provide some greater perspective on skill development and training modality, which might just give them the edge to achieve a particular time or distance.

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What do you think is the biggest obstacle to achieving a comfortable 5k swim for people who are relatively new to swimming or are primarily recreational swimmers?

People who are relatively new to swimming, though have a significant background in a different endurance based activity (such as cycling or running) may well find that their fitness developed in another area may have some transfer into the water, and as such may find no obstacle to completing the 5km event. However, those who don’t necessarily have this type of background, or those who find swimming a significant challenge, might well be best off trying out the 1.5km challenge in the first instance, and build their way up to the 5km over time.

How would you modify or adapt the plans you’ve written for Swimathon for someone who wants to take on a 2.5k or 5k open water swim?

Throughout the training plans, opportunities exist to modify drill sets to include Open Water based activities such as buoy sighting and feeding during the swim.

Jolyon Bio Picture

Jolyon Finck

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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.