21 Feb Swim tips from the superfish Brad Smith
Brad Smith has been consistently swimming since he was 10 years of age and has been a regular (and fast) fixture on the swimming circuit for many years now. He balances a busy job as an electrician with a big training load – up to 66km per week when preparing for the Rottnest Channel swim solo crossing. Brad is teaming up in a duo with Jack Wilson for this year’s Rotto Crossing, and it’s fair to say the pair have their sights firmly set on a win. We caught up with Brad to learn more about his training and nutrition routines, and an insight into why he’s transitioning into triathlon…
How long have you been competing in open water swimming events and how did you start out in the sport?
I originally started at 10 and raced pool up to about 16 then gave it up for a full-time job when I left school. My mum convinced me to do a solo Rotto crossing so I came back at 23 and started again and haven’t looked back.
What are your best swimming achievements?
My best achievement would have to be my 2018 Rotto solo, unfortunately didn’t get the win I wanted but managed to swim one of the top 5 times ever swum in the 60 years 04:08:52 (Ed: which if you are wondering is 1:14 per hundred metres 😆)
What’s on your swimming bucket list?
I would love to do the Majorca swim series one day, I have heard it’s an amazing event to be part of.
Do you swim with a squad or coach?
I’m currently training about 3-4 sessions a week with Ian Mills from North Coast swim club and anything else done by myself to fit in with work.
What sort of hours do you put into swim training?
My biggest week in the lead up to Rotto consisted of 66kms which was 20 hours of training mixed in with a full-time job.
Endurance swimmers must be extremely mentally resilient – how do you get yourself through those tough sessions?
To stay mentally focused in my long swims I try to keep focused on my technique and the goal I’m currently training for. It’s very hard not to just switch off and go into autopilot
Pool or ocean training?
The majority of my training is done in the pool but I always try to get in an early Sunday morning swim in the Sorrento shark net to get some kms and practice in the ocean.
What is your race nutrition plan?
My nutrition plan for Rotto or Port to Pub is something I have come up with myself after lots of trial and error. I find I can’t stomach huge quantities of fluid, so I have roughly 100ml of BINDI electrolyte mixed with an energy gel which I have ready in separate bottles and I take one every 30 mins. I have tried food before but found it took far too long to consume and very hard to digest, especially in rough conditions.
Any tips for first timer’s on getting nutrition right for a long swim?
My best tip is having all your bottles made up separately and labelled with the time I am going to take them; you need to know exactly how much you are taking on each feed and to get the timing right. Another thing I do is always slide a couple of gels in my jammers or race suit just in case I feel I’m getting a bit lethargic or can’t find your feeder/paddler (it’s saved me a few times).
You’ve started racing very successfully in triathlon (Brad recently qualified for the 70.3 World Championships in Taupo 2020) – what is the attraction for you in triathlon?
I’m loving the transition into triathlon; it has a much greater social aspect which I love and it’s a whole new challenge for me to build myself up for. Also, the convenience of being able to do a bike session indoors of your own house or set out your front door and go for a run, instead of always heading to the pool is great.
How has triathlon affected your swimming?
Moving into triathlon has meant my swimming has taken a back seat now so I’m down to 3-4 swims a week (5-8 hours) depending on what phase of training I’m in. I have lost quite a lot of speed but can still compete at the top level in the triathlon swims with the lesser training.
We wish Brad all the very best as he tackles the Rottnest Channel Swim in and Duo, and then the Port to Pub in just a few weeks as a solo swimmer. With his level of commitment and consistency and such a well-practiced nutrition strategy, we can’t wait to see how well he goes!