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Dynamic development pathway as open water continues to grow in popularity

2018 was certainly a successful one for athletes in all our aquatic sports. In the sixth of a series of articles, we look back on those achievements and find out what 2019 has in store.

If 2018 showed us one thing, it’s that open water swimming continues to grow in popularity.

Thousands of swimmers took part in events across the country, including the Swim Serpentine, Open Water Swimathon and Swim England’s National Open Water Festival National Age Group Championships.

The weather, unfortunately, forced the abandonment of the festival on day but not after a number of swimmers had braved the elements to take part in the Team2K race.

Scotland’s iconic Loch Lomond staged the open water swims for the 2018 Glasgow European Championships, with 5K, 10K and 25K races taking place.

Great Britain’s swimmers didn’t win any medals but there was success for Scunthorpe’s Jack Burnell, who won his first gold medal of the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series 2018 by the narrowest of margins in China.

He touched home only 0.1 seconds ahead of Germany’s Rob Frederik Muffels after an epic three-way battle for the top spot in the Men’s 10k race in Qiandao Lake, Chun’an.

Dynamic development pathway

Closer to home Swim England launched the Open Water Awards, aimed at anyone aged eight and over looking to improve their open water swimming.

The Swim England Talent Open Water Pathway is working with open water swimmers from the age of 12 through to 22.

And clubs can help with that development, according to Swim England’s open water talent lead Mike Parker.

“Swim England Talent offers a dynamic and progressive development pathway for competitive open water swimming athletes,” he said.

“Swimming clubs in England are in an ideal position to facilitate open water swimming training whether that be in the pool or in an open water environment.

“I have no doubt that it will add another dimension to your club programme, which will bring positive long-term benefits to your athletes.

“By it’s very nature, open water swimming promotes resilience, self-confidence, independence and self-regulation and, of course, it’s fun to do.”

Open water swimming was given plenty of national prominence following the record-breaking achievement of Ross Edgley, who became the first man to swim around the coastline of Great Britain.

The 33-year-old completed 2.3 million strokes, burned 504,732 calories, was stung 37 times by jellyfish and spent 23 weeks at sea during his Great British Swim.

Towards the end of the year, the Open Water hub on the Swim England website was launched, giving swimmers the latest news, event information and coaching tips.