One of the biggest challenges you face as swimmer can be actually committing to booking yourself into an event. This is particularly the case if you are a beginner and unsure of your capability and whether you really are ready.

When I booked the English Channel I had never trained in open water before, the nearest thing was the odd dip on holiday in the sea. I definitely didn’t know my capability, I just believed I could get to the standard necessary. So how do you know if you are ready to tackle a swim event?


Whether it be for pool or open water, working on stroke technique to prevent injuries whilst training, maximise speed and energy is a key area in my view to focus on. If you are swimming longer distances, saving energy and efficiency is of course key.

When I developed the Ocean Walker technique, it was to prolong my swimming career after a shoulder injury and two operations and being advised not to swim again by my surgeon. I went on to swim six more channel swims and I was the fastest man in the 2-Way Windermere swim in 2011. The reason being that I focused on core rotation creating speed and swimming from hip to hip to minimise drag and take pressure off my shoulders.

Make sure you do the training

Hectic schedules means it is sometimes hard to dedicate time for training. This is why having a timetable of the days you will be training and a written training plan will keep you structured and give you the confidence to know you are progressing. This training plan should be specific for the event you are doing and gradually build you up for the event.

How many times a week you train will dependant on work/family life, however ideally you should look for a minimum of 3 times a week if possible. Also make sure you stretch well after a session.

Rest well and stay healthy

Training is of course important but overtraining can be a detriment as well, so it’s important to get the right balance and ensure you have rest days in between to allow your muscles to recover. If you feel run down or overtired, don’t feel guilty having a day off, it will just mean you have more energy for the next session.

Mind Set

A positive mind set is another important factor. Erasing any self-doubt and believing in yourself. This will come from effective training and being organised before a race. I believe if your mind believes, the body will follow.

Surrounding yourself with positive people, speaking in a positive way in a build up to the race. Ignore or shut down any negative feedback. I found listening to motivational music really helped focus the mind. I would visualise my success in the race or event, how it would go and short term goals, including breaking the swim into small chunks swimming buoy to buoy, and never looking at the whole race or event. This way it was more manageable in my mind. Believe, Achieve, Succeed!


Having a good meal the night before, but not too late. A typical meal for me would be some pasta and vegetables, largely in order to getting some carbs in my system. Also having a good breakfast at least two hours before an event. Breakfast foods which work well for me are porridge, oats and banana - again all with a high percentage of carbs to help with energy.


Ensure you have spare costumes, goggles, hats, ear plugs etc and getting your bag ready the night before to avoid any unnecessary last minute rushing or stress. It’s one less thing to think about so that you can fully focus on your race.

Good Luck!!