The Lorne Pier to Pub on the weekend produced an outstanding finish between two of Australia’s open water swimming powerhouses, Mac Horton and Sam Shepard.
In this awesome video of the finish of the open mens event, you can witness a masterclass in ocean swimming techniques, that were ultimately the difference between winning and losing for these two similar speed swimmers.
Watch the video, and in chronological order, look for these magic moments that gave Shepard victory.
- The start was fast and furious, keeping in front of the pack is crucial to getting clear dense water for maximum propulsion. For a race this short, it’s basically a sprint for these guys.
- Horton leads Shepard as they round the final buoy and head to the beach. Shepard is oo far behind at this stage to be benefitting from any drafting, and at this stage you’d expect Horton to pull away and be too good.
- As they get closer to the shore, the swell starts to come into play, and working each swell for a lift is crucial.
- As is the case so often in ocean swimming, it’s not always ideal to be ahead as you reach the wave zone. In this case Horton gets caught ‘inside’ without a decent wave to catch, and Shepard benefits from a bigger set-wave rolling in, which ends up being the same wave Horton catches.
- Look closely at Shepard as he works to pull in onto the green wave, you’ll see his strong kick driving him forward and he’s using his left arm for extra effort so he can match the speed of the wave. Having the energy to pull this off at the end of a gruelling battle is awesome.
- When they’re both on the wave, you’ll see Shepard continue to kick hard and use a rapid left arm rotation to stay in front of the wave, he’s also keeping his head up and eyes forward to maintain a visual on the finish line and to get an idea of how close he’s getting to the shore. Meanwhile, Horton is basically swimming with both arms.
- Once it’s shallow enough for them both to stand up, Shepard emerges 1/2 metre ahead, and from here it’s goodbye. Shepard’s textbook wading technique of high knees an outward-rotating legs seals the deal. Horton, on the other hand, is trying to run through the water with a normal running technique, and is effectively just trying to bulldoze through. Efficiency wins.
If you want to be a master ocean swimmer, swim like Sam Shepard.