What The Mind Believes, The Body Achieves

By Steve Munatones, Open Water Source

MONTREAL, Canada, March 27. MOHAMED Marouf and the Le Club de natation Calac hosted an international conference on open water swimming at its annual distance swimming competition in Montreal, Canada.

Dr. Abou Elella Ade El Fattah of Egypt, Alain Lefebvre of Canada, Gilles Potvin of Canada, and Steven Munatones, as well as host and former professional marathon swimmer Mohamed Marouf covered a variety of areas in the sport of open water swimming.

Dr. Fatah, a professor at the University of Cairo and the top sports physiologist throughout the Middle East provided a variety of physiological data on marathon swimmers including a comparison against world-class pool swimmers specializing in butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. He explained the differences in the average height, weight, BMI of those aquatic athletes focusing on pool events versus those who focus on the open water swimming events. His wide-ranging presentation included data and descriptions of the physiological effects of marathon swimming, the psychological characteristics of open water swimmers, the effects of hypothermia and hyperthermia, and the different types of chafing.

Alain Lefebvre, the Coordinator, High Performance Sports at the University de Montreal and the former Technical Director of FNQ F?d?ration Natation de Quebec, presented a variety of perspectives on the psychology of age-group swimmers in development and mature elite athletes. Lefebvre discussed myriad cases that illustrated his perspectives. “We are just beginning to understand what true potential we have within us.”

Gilles Potvin, an Honour Coach in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, described a number of factors impacting – both positively and negatively – age-group swimmers interested in open water swimming. His presentations of first-hand experiences in a number of international marathon swimming competitions clearly made his points. He spoke about his swims as a professional athlete and as a coach at the 24 Heures La Tuque and the Travers?e internationale du lac St-Jean. “Open water swimming is a sport I adore. It's one of the rare sports in which just finishing is an accomplishment.”

Steven Munatones of Open Water Source presented a history of marathon swimming from 1875 to the present and the Pyramid of Open Water Swimming Success. “I have seen so many great achievements around the world in open water swimming. If swimmers prepare and believe in themselves, they can achieve so much. Swimmers around the world, of all ages and abilities, have taught me so much about what is possible.”

After the conference, Marouf hosted a long-distance meet where 91 swimmers from 7 teams (C.S.Q., Club Aquatique Calac Lasalle, Club aquatique Montreal, Club de Natation de Sherbrooke, Club de natation Samak, and E.N. St Lambert) entered in the 2.5 km, 5 km and 10 km events.

“This is just the beginning,” explained Coach Marouf. “We have to start somewhere. 3 years ago, we started this long-distance meet with only 2 swimmers. Even with only 2 swimmers, I said 'Let's go. Let's go it.' Now, we have seen it grow to almost 100 swimmers. The coaches and parents, as well as the kids, are getting excited about stepping it and competing in longer and longer races. With this meet and other meets, we will be ready for the open water swimming season in June. It gives us a great start here in Quebec where the winters are so long.”

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