When you talk about swimming in open waterthe feats of the Sabadell swimmer probably come to mind David Mecca. He was the first man to swim to unite the Island of Alcatraz with the bay of San Francisco, with shackles, extreme temperatures, strong currents and sharks, defying the story about the impossibility of escaping from prison. In addition, he has crossed the English Channel and the Strait of Gibraltar on several occasions; and her resume accumulates superhuman feats. But beyond her adventures, the open water swimming It is an increasingly practiced sport on our coasts.
In this discipline, the stopwatch is not everything. The sea is an environment where the variables to control. Unlike swimming in a pool, in which the conditions are always the same and the times can be measured to the millimeter, in the sea, the lake or the river, each stroke is an adventure. The currents, the temperature, the creatures, the waves… All of these factors can make for a totally different experience on the same tour at different times.
“It is different from the pool and my case is the proof. I had never swum in a pool and I don’t know how to do a turn in a pool, for example. I had very bad technique, but in the sea I feel very comfortable because there are other things that matter. In addition to technique, such as knowing how to navigate waves, having a good orientation, buoyancy…”, he explains Lourdes Alsina. She is an amateur swimmer, she is 52 years old, and she has been participating in the tests for more than a decade. marnaton that take place on the Catalan and Balearic coasts.
Lourdes started swimming almost 15 years ago when one day she joined some neighbors who regularly went out to sea. “I am Marnaton meat,” she sums up. “I had swum occasionally and although I had always liked the sea very much -I did scuba diving as a young man- I had never taken it seriously. In Cadaqués some of my neighbors always went swimming. They were two gentlemen a little older than me and one day I went to accompany them. I really liked the feeling and I went out with them to swim more regularly later, ”he recalls. At that time, the initiative took off marnaton and put together evidence: “I like the sea, I wanted to learn to swim, I started training more seriously and decided to set a goal. Since then I have not failed”ditch.
Open water swimming is also a sport “team” for many of its practitioners. In addition to the fact that for safety reasons, you should never go swimming in the sea alone, it is important learn to swim in a group Finding yourself in the middle of the sea surrounded by other swimmers who kick and stroke the water can generate a little anxiety at first, but like everything, it’s a matter of training. “It is not a solitary sport, although individual. You swim alone, but always accompanied and pushed by your team”, points out Lourdes.
This social aspect of swimming is something he agrees on Rafael Cabanillas. The swimmer and coach, a seven-time Marnaton Cup champion, has people of various ages in his team of athletes. “Is a discipline that allows to be in contact with the natural environment and that feeling cannot be explained with words”, he points out as the main attraction.
Training in and out of the water
To be a good open water swimmer, one must get used to swimming long distance. “The tests of this discipline are usually longer, so the training usually accumulates a volume taller than a pool swimmer”, explains Cabanillas. Beyond training in the water, a good swimmer must carry out exercises also “dry”. “The training of a swimmer out of the water is mainly the core, lower back and gluteus because the position, when swimming is very important and also being able to control your body in the water”, explains the coach. In addition, the joint that is most injured is the shoulder and it is advisable to work hard to prevent injury in that area.
Open water swimming, just like in the pool, is a highly recommended sport for a wide spectrum of people given its non-impact nature. Mainly the shoulder joint is worked, but it is a very complete It helps to tone the entire body. “In the strokes, the internal rotator muscles are mainly worked: the pectoralis major, the latissimus dorsi, the subscapularis, and the teres major,” he explains. Montserrat Pujol, PhD in Physiotherapy attached to the Col·legi de Fisioterapeutes de Catalunya and Physiotherapist at the Unitat d’Esport i Salut del Consell Català de l’Esport.
“It is interesting to accompany swimming with exercises of the external rotator muscles and stabilizers of the shoulder to avoid imbalances between both types of musculature as well as performing exercises force maximum or explosive”, recommends Pujol, who points out that it is a very complete sport and without impact. “As in all sports it is interesting to put yourself in the hands of a specialist to learn the technique well,” he recommends.
Hence, the average age of the participants in this type of event is higher than in other sports. “I reached my best results at the age of 27, which is not usual in the world of sport,” explains Cabanillas, who assures that in the last voyages, in addition, they see many more women than before. “Since it is a sport that is not very harmful, many more people dare to participate and the sports career lengthens a lot, that is why there are also older people. For example, in the crossings where there is a higher level by category, it is from 50 years old, at least at the amateur level ”, he assures.
In recent years, participation in these tests has grown tremendously. “For about 10 years we have had almost a thousand participants per test in Marnaton”, explains the swimming coach. Open water swimming has been an Olympic discipline since the 2008 Beijing Games.