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For Trent Grimsey, swimming the English Channel has been a dream since he was a child and fi rst heard about the iconic

crossing. That dream became a reality on 8 September 2012 when not only did he make it across, but shaved two minutes off Petar Stoychev’s world record and became only the second person to break the seven hour barrier. This was an achievement a long time in the making. Grimsey

booked his crossing with pilot Michael Oram back in 2009. Oram was the pilot who guided Stoychev to his 2007 record, so Grimsey knew he’d be in good hands. Grimsey was also hoping to be part of the Australian Olympic swimming team in London and thought he’d combine a trip to the Games with a crack at the Channel record. However, he didn’t make the team, neither for the marathon swim nor the pool 1,500m. While this was a disappointment it did mean Grimsey could at least focus his eff orts and preparation on the Channel. As well as what he describes as “small tweaks” to his training he threw himself into the FINA Grand Prix marathon swimming circuit – a series of global marathon swimming races ranging in distance from

NOT GRIM FOR Grimsey Aſt er failing to qualify for the Australian

Olympic swimming team, Trent Grimsey possibly made a bigger name for himself in the sport by set ing a new English Channel record.


15km to 57km. As well as helping Grimsey build the crucial stamina and speed to at empt a record Channel swim, several of these marathons took place in cold water, which provided the essential cold-water acclimatisation for a Channel crossing. But Grimsey wasn’t just doing these swims for fun or training, he

was out there to win. Bulgaria’s Stoychev has won this series every year since 2007, but 2012 was Grimsey’s turn. “It’s been an awesome year,” says Grimsey, and that was before he topped it off with the Channel record. He notched up wins in the 34km Lac Magog swim (leading the fi eld home by more than fi ve minutes aſt er a seven-hour swim) and the 32km Lac St Jean swim, again by a signifi cant margin. However, he was outsprinted by Stoychev at Ohrid Lake in Macedonia, so he knew he’d have his work cut out to beat the Bulgarian’s record. Grimsey’s journey to the pinnacle of marathon swimming hasn’t all been plain sailing. In 2010 he contracted Ross River Fever, a viral infection transmit ed by mosquitoes (see our feature on avoiding bug-spread illnesses in this issue, on page 50). This derailed any plans for that year and also meant 2011 was about rebuilding his fi tness – meaning his success in 2012 is doubly sweet. Early September combined a spell of calm weather with the neap tide, ideal conditions for a record at empt. Grimsey felt good and, as he says, “when I feel good, I feel confi dent”. So the swim was on. He set off from Dover at 06:43, put his head

down and went for it. He says, “even if I didn’t break the record I wanted to swim the Channel as fast as I could, but I knew if I was to beat Petar I’d have to swim hard all the way.” As a top marathon swimmer Grimsey is used to covering long distances, but a Channel crossing is quite diff erent to a race. “I’d never compete like that. The other swimmers would just draſt off me and then sprint past at the end. Pack racing is tactical; swimming the Channel is much more like a time trial. It’s totally diff erent, but I really enjoyed it.” A time-trial cyclist receives on-going feedback through the team

radio and on-board computers that display heart rate, cadence and power output. In contrast, a swimmer has to rely almost entirely on ‘feel’ and perceived eff ort, and anyone who’s ever started a race too hard will know how costly a mistake can be. Channel rules forbid the use of radios and heart rate monitors so Grimsey had to draw on his experience and hourly updates from his crew during feed stops. The news was good. At each stop he was ahead of Stoychev’s pace.

Trent Grimsey, along with all other marathon swimmers, is quick to acknowledge that this is a team sport. His team for the Channel included: ○ Michael Oram: Boat pilot ○ Harley Connolly: Coach ○ Damián Blaum: Support swimmer ○ Donnal Buckley: Boat crew ○ Owen O’Keife: Boat crew

At fi rst it was just two minutes, then it grew to seven before falling back during the fi ſt h hour when he struggled for a while. He was also spurred on by messages of support that his crew received via social media and scrawled on a white board that they held over the side of the boat. Finally he received the message that he was 1,500m off -shore and had 30 minutes in hand. It was at that point he knew he could break the record. He powered on and hit French soil at 13:38 for a new world record cross-Channel time of 6hr55m. So what next? “Firstly, I’m going to take a break of two to three weeks,” says Grimsey. “Then I’ll put in a solid block of training and start preparing for the World Championships in June 2013.” At 24, Grimsey will be around for a while to come, and he defi nitely has ambitions for Rio in 2016. “I really like Rio. I’ve twice won the King of the Sea race there so I’d love to compete in their Olympics.” He may fi nd competition for his slot coming from his brothers; the day aſt er Trent’s Channel success, Ridge and Codie Grimsey fi nished second and third in the prestigious Tiburon Mile in California.. So, get used to hearing the name 'Grimsey'. ○


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