We are over the moon that George Taplin is our new Blueseventy athlete. George, aged 21, is a joined our team this summer. He is an open water swimmer and triathlete. Last year he broke the record for swimming all the lakes in the lake district in 3 days (13 lakes, 71km).
He is an ambitious individual who has a lot of exciting goals planned for 2021/2022. He recently won the Henley mile and achieved an 8:28 in an 800 m pool swim placing him 7th in the country. He is looking forward to competing in the English Aquathlon championships in September after the Thames marathon on 15th of August.
Learn more about George, his life as an open water swimmer, his training, his races and goals and how he deals with injuries!
Blueseventy: How did you get into open water swimming? Do you have any inspirations?
George: I first got into open water swimming quite late in my swimming career. It was during my final summer before University that my Dad decided to swim the 13 km straight across the width of Lake Geneva from Switzerland to France. I had a long summer that year after A Levels so I decided to join him on his river training swims alongside my competitive pool training, and shortly after signed up to doing it with him. We started the swim at 5am and was met by an incredible sunrise coming over the Alps and illuminating the lake, creating an incredible swim back drop that I had never experienced before – I was immediately hooked. The swim took just under 4 hours and I was amazed at how much distance we covered, opening my eyes to the incredibly challenging and rewarding world of ultradistance swimming. Since then I have completed a 38 km swim in one go, and swum all the Lakes in the Lake District in 3 days (71km).
Blueseventy: Tell us about your upcoming races
George: The Thames Marathon is a 14 km swimming race from Henley to Marlow in mid-August. This event will be my first marathon distance event since breaking my arm in December 2020 which naturally bring nerves, however training has been going really well and I have managed to build my speed back up (last weekend I raced an 800 m in 8:28). Over the last year I have been preparing for a record attempt across the Gibraltar Straight from Spain to Africa with a good friend, training partner, and Olympian Tom Dean. It is mostly likely that this will take place next summer however we have COVID, waiting lists and a few other logistics to work around first. The Gibraltar Straight is a 17 km stretch of water between southern Spain and Morocco and will be a fantastic swim to link Europe and Africa.
Blueseventy: How are you feeling going into these upcoming events/races?
George: Swimming has taken a real knock over the past 16 months, with frequent pool closures and banning of club swimming. As many swimmers will have found, these interruptions made holding water fitness more of a challenge, and between October and March 2021 I didn’t manage to swim at all. Nevertheless, with the open of pools in late spring I threw myself back into full training and started getting back into the lakes and rivers as well.
Whilst the first 2 months back were a challenge, 16 weeks in to full training I have now managed to regain my fitness and even get season best times since I was competing full time in 2016.
Blueseventy: How to plan for these events physically and mentally?
George: I have been a firm believer in training to get fast for ultra-endurance events. Swim training to build speed helps promote an efficient swim stroke, and also stimulate physiological adaptations that improve your respiratory, muscular and cardiac system. My swim sets are only between 3-5 km, but I’ll try to make sure it’s of the highest quality possible. Outside the pool, in the weeks leading up to an open water event I’ll jump in the Thames near Cookham and just swim a steady 6 km getting relaxed into my stroke and focusing on sighting and swimming balanced. I find this preparation works well for me for ultra-endurance events, and there is a certain element you can’t prepare for, which involved you just having to go into a dark place during the event and have the confidence to hold on.
Blueseventy: You recently overcame a serious injury, does this impact your training?
George: On Christmas morning last year I headed out for an early morning mountain bike ride. On my way to the forest I slipped on a patch of ice on the road and fell onto my left side and fractured my olecranon into fragments. On Boxing day I went into surgery and had a metal plate inserted into my arm to hold the bone fragments together. The recovery process was a complete roller coaster. After 8 weeks I got my soft cast removed only to discover I had lost over 50 % of flexion in the elbow. I’m still working to get the last 5 % back but thankfully after 6 months of rehab I have managed to get most movement back. Swimming was at the centre of my rehab program, and it was incredible to be back in the water. At the start I could barely place any pressure on my pull through, yet this morning I completed my first 5 km + paddle work session. I have now learnt it’s a real luxury to be able to complete sport everyday as you require good health to the extent that you can choose to expend vast amounts of energy on one activity that you enjoy.
Blueseventy: For those that suffer a serious injury, do you have any tips in helping them overcome this and bounce back?
George: I think the main lesson I learnt from the whole experience is that recovery from injury is far from a linear progression. Instead, you will have some real lows and highs, but try to have faith in the recovery process as the body can do incredible things. I wanted to share 3 key strategies to deal with injury that I have learnt from my experience:
1) Accept the recovery process isn’t linear and will take time.
2) Get outside! Whilst you may not be able to run/cycle/swim or perform your sport outside, take a walk as it can provide a vital break and give you knew perspective.
3) Focus on what you can control. Find any activity that you enjoy and can do pain free and commit to doing it. It’ll give you a new sense of purpose and give you new goals.
Blueseventy: Tell us about your future goals.
George: I’m hoping to progress my open water swimming to be able to compete at an international level in the marathon distance. In the world of ultra-endurance I’m eager to complete a 100 km+ challenge in the next few years, and I’m currently looking at a few possibilities in Britain.
Blueseventy: Tell us why you chose Blueseventy and what you like about the brand?
George: One of the main reasons I approached Blueseventy is the fact that I bought a Blueseventy Sprint wetsuit in 2017 and used it for: Lake Geneva crossing, the 38 km Thames Swim, my 71 km Lake District Challenge, and many training swims and it is still in one piece. The suits promote fast swimming and allow a great range of shoulder movement, but crucially are designed to last – something that is all too important in this age.
Thanks for your time, George. It is great to have you in our team!