Lessons Learnt Racing – Andrew Horsfall-Turner – #TeamSelkie
20th October 2017
This is my first Blog post for #teamselkie so I thought I would quickly introduce myself and then talk a little about some of the lessons I have learnt while competing in Open Water Events.
My name is Andrew Horsfall-Turner, I am a 23-year-old Open Water Swimmer originally from Sussex and currently living in Swansea, South Wales. I have been competing in Open Water Events since the age of 12; since this time, I have won Medals at a county, regional and national level in Open Water. In addition, I have had the opportunity to race against some of the best open water swimmers in the world in events such as Great Swim Elite Events, Swim Serpentine Elite Event and Henley Events. When I am not swimming, I coach swimming at a local swimming club in South Wales and manage Swimming/Open Water Clinics with my company HT Swim Pro.
Warm Up at HT Swim Pro OW Clinic (July 2017)
For those like myself who are more seasonal open water swimmers, the main bulk of our swimming training is done staring at black line on the floor of a pool for lengths on end. Although this process can be tedious at times, training and swimming with others can bring a more social element to a training regime and make those crucial training meters fly by! Training in the pool is great for helping develop a great aerobic fitness and swimming conditioning to race, but it is difficult to gain all the specific skills (drafting, sighting, breathing…) that can really make or break your open water performance.
In the UK, many including myself do not even attempt to enter the sea/river/lake until at least late May (excluding my participation in the Neptune Steps in March). And due to work and other commitments it can be difficult to find time to spend much time training in open water, that is where I look towards open water events to gain more experience. Fortunately as soon as the water is warm enough they begin! Due to this only being roughly 4 months of the year, for 8 months there is very little opportunity to help me train and develop my key open water skills. The process that I have used for the last few years is learning while racing. This is really as simple as it sounds; you simply learn and practice your skills while in a competitive environment.
Redbull Neptune Steps 2017
For example, one of my main events this season was The British National 5km Open Water championships held in late July. In preparation for the event I competed in two events, the first being the Henley Classic which I was lucky enough to get my ‘5x club’ hat and t shirt. The second was the Swim Wales National 5km Championships. Both of these races gave me either the opportunity to practice or teach me useful lessons that I would then be able to take into my main event. During the Henley Classic I was fortunate enough to retain my title and lead the swim start to finish. For those who don’t know the event begins at sunrise and is 2.4km upstream in a straight line. This may seem very easy, however you would be surprised the number of swimmers that pin ball from side to side of the river! I tend to sight every 8-10 strokes to ensure the line I am racing is the shortest and most direct line to the finish. So putting this into practice is always great for confidence leading into future events. During the Swim Wales Open Water I had the opportunity to swim against a previous teammate of mine Evgenij Pop Avec (Reigning FINA 25Km World Grand Prix Champion). During this race I managed to gain vital practice drafting and using other swimmers in the event to help benefit my performance. During this event I learnt a very valuable lesson – that wearing a wetsuit for a long period of time can give you some nasty rubs if you forget your glide!
At British Nationals I managed to place in 5th which was a great result and very reflective of the training and the race practice that I had gained in the lead up to the event! Moving forward I am heading back to training and looking forward to the Open Water Season 2018. I am also beginning to train for Triathlon’s and I am hopefully have a go at the multi-sport discipline! If you want to keep up to date with my Open Water or any of the Open Water Swim Clinics I run check out HT Swim Pro on Facebook!