I train around 12-14 hours per week; this is achieved through seven two-hour sessions per week, three of which start at 05:45. I compete in the pool on average two weekends per month.
My focus switches to open water as soon as I can take the cold, which for me is around 14 degrees (although I did manage one 9 degree 2km charity swim in 2015).
I started my open water racing this season with the City of London 1.5km race which was a new race this year – so I thought I’d give it a go. To prepare for the race I joined in one of the RG Active crew’s training sessions in the dock the day before. I really enjoyed the racing in the Royal Victoria Dock for the first time and was pleased to come first, especially as there was a great bundle of prizes!
Since then, I have competed in the Great East Swim 5km elite race, which is where the GB junior open water team gets selected. This is a fantastic opportunity to swim with some of the very best open water swimmers in the country. This year was no exception, Jack Burnell, Caleb Hughes, Tom Allen, Mark Deans and Jay Lelliot were all racing that day. The water temp was just over 17 degrees, so it was a pretty chilly non-wetsuit race. I was really pleased with 12th place in 59:21.93 which was the first time I’ve swam 5km under an hour in open water.
I’m sponsored by the Selkie Swim Co who also sponsor the Henley Swim events – these are the races that really got me into open water. I love the Henley Classic which is a 2.1km upstream race at 04:30 in the morning at the end of June. This year I was competing for the third time and was asked to be torch-bearer. It was amazing to lead all the swimmers along the Thames to the start of the race. It was a tough race this year – heavy rain in the days leading up to the event meant the Thames was flowing very fast. I spent most of the race taking turns to lead with another more experience twenty-one year old swimmer, who pulled away in the last 200m to win the race. I was really happy with second place under such challenging conditions.
My next race was also impacted by the colder, wetter weather this year. At the beginning of July I went to Wales to participate in the Welsh National OW Championships. The lake was a chilly 14 degrees with quite a strong headwind in one direction – this was the first time I’d swum 5km in water this cold, so I was quite glad when Swim Wales confirmed that the race would be wetsuit compulsory. I got off to a great start, but the cold air really affected my breathing so I had to slow right down for the second half of the first lap. Once my breathing settled down I was able to get going again but had lost a lot of ground so I settled into a steady pace and finished second in my age group.
My races for the rest of the season are the South East Region Open Water Championships 5km age group race and the Henley Mile (both suits and skins races) on the following day. Then there’s a weekend off before I head up to Sheffield for the National Open Water Championships, the British Summer Championships for the men’s relays and then the ASA National Championships where I have qualified for the 200, 400 and 1500m freestyle.
I’ve decided to do another 10km race towards the end of the season this year, and when I saw the London Dock 2 Dock 10km race announced, I decided to enter. I’ve only done one 10km race before (on my 16th birthday last year!) and that was lots of loops round the lake at Box End. When you see what 10km actually looks like going all the way round the London Docklands Airport and back again, you get a real sense of just how far 10km really is!
My last planned race for this season will be the Swim Serpentine 5km race at the end of September, I’m still undecided as the whether to race in my age group or accept the invitation to swim in the elite race.
What are my open water swimming goals? I really enjoy open water swimming and racing with other elite age group swimmers, there are a dozen or so amazing swimmers in my age group and a few of them have already represented GB in junior Euro / World open water competitions. I’m quite a bit off that level, but I’m working hard in training to keep improving both in the pool and for open water and I’m still growing! So, I’m really just taking each season as it comes, I’m just going to keep having fun racing and see what happens.
Sam Crabtree open water swimmer Sponsored by Selkie Swim Co.
City of London swim
Great East Swim
Welsh National Open Water Championships
City of London Swim Sam Crabtree is proud to be sponsored by Selkie Swim Co.