Training for the Straits

Madhu, Mark and Loren swimming in 5C water.

Madhu, Mark and Loren swimming in 5C water.

Training for a swim like the Straits of Magellan is, as you might imagine, difficult. For most marathon type-swims there is a standard set of "rules" to follow - put in distance and training in the pool, swim distance in an open-water environment, eat this, don't eat that, improve your cardio like this, practice feeding like that, and so on. For a demanding cold-water swim there is not a lot of rules to follow, because there are not a lot of people doing it!

This kind of swim is more about acclimatization and mental preparedness. Yes, it is 3-4km (longer than an Ironman distance swim), but Loren, Madhu and Mark do that as a warm up during the summer training months. Distance is not in question. Distance in 5-8C water however, that is another thing completely!

So how DO you prepare?  Practice, practice, practice. Spend time in the water - in the COLD water. When you walk in and your feet go numb - don't turn back to shore. Go further. When you can't feel your hands and you are experiencing the "the claw" - put them back in the water and push on. When your training partner is looking at you for that signal that you are ready to go back to the shore - you push on for another lap.

At this stage, these guys are FIT! They can swim fast. They can swim the distance, and they are starting to spend longer and longer in colder and colder water. Today, they spent 20 minutes swimming 1km in 5C water. No frame of reference? Run your shower as cold as you can get it, and stand in it for 20 minutes. That is 12C water. Now imagine 5C.

These guys are tough - and we are not talking just your regular log chopping, bear fighting, beer drinking macho man tough - we are talking mentally tough as nails. Getting into cold water is not something you WANT to do - even these guys, but it is something that you are DRIVEN to do - and that sums Madhu, Loren and Mark up in a nutshell.

You can see the photoset from todays swim, as always on Flickr ( along with our other sets. You can follow us on Facebook ( and get updates on the website (

In the next couple of weeks we invite you down to Coronation Park to cheer these 3 on during a training swim - Saturdays at 8:30am. Come down, dip a toe in, and admire just how nuts you have to be to get into that water. (and then join us for a traditional post-swim coffee to warm up!)