Bryan Mineo is preparing for a swim few couldn’t come close to if you took all the their time in the pool and combined it. He has been training for the last year to embark on one of The Ocean’s Seven, the world’s most grueling swims ever conceived in open water. His challenge? The English Channel, a 21-mile (at its narrowest point) international waterway between England and France. Thousands have attempted to cross the channel, just under 1,000 have successfully made it. The cold water, distance, and currents make it one of the most difficult athletic feats known to man. And unlike the equivalent of ultramarathon running, swimmers do not have the luxury of sleeping while still moving forward. This challenge is not for the weak of heart.
Compete Every Day recently sat down with Bryan to discuss his upcoming swim, Mineo Athletics, and what motivates him to compete every day.
Bryan, how did you get involved in swimming? Have you always been active with the sport?
Actually no. I swam when I was young and through high school, but really got burnt out in college at Virginia Tech. I took some time away and started life in the typical 9-5, corporate world after college. But I wasn’t happy. So I started training people and realized I could make more money than at my corporate job and was doing something I was more passionate about. I moved from New York City to Austin and started Keep Austin Fit. I raced triathlons and swam, but the more I coached swimming, the more I felt I still needed a move. I moved up to Dallas, where there is a much larger triathlete population.
How were you able to distinguish Keep Austin Fit, Keep Dallas Fit, and Mineo Athletics from other training groups?
I am incredibly hands-on with my athletes. I try and get to the science of it. I truly believe people want to learn the science as well as improve their technique and skill-set. We set up underwater video cameras, track their movements in the water, and break down everything to show them exactly what they are doing wrong and how we can improve it. Most importantly, we can show them why it’s important to improve it. I’ve seen a huge response to this. Right now I am a full open-water swim coach with a team of part-time coaches.
How did you develop this scientific approach to coaching that seems to be quite successful for Mineo Athletics?
It grew out of my own research. I was terrified of some big races I had, so the bigger the swim, the more scared I was. I started studying ways to improve my swimming and how to quite literally, survive in the water. Swimming is 75% technique in the water and 25% fitness. I had to be flawless in my technique so that I could complete the swim. Knowing that I had the technique also calmed my fears.
You are preparing for THE race of all races by trekking the English Channel. What kind of programming are you following – or creating – for this?
I created my own program actually. I know what I need to do and have been setting out to prepare to peak at my race. I swim about 2.5 hours at a time (roughly 10km distance). It’s a very isolated sport. I have no training partner, no one can talk to me while I’m swimming – it is literally just me and the water. I pass the time by counting numbers or humming music. It’s great for focusing and processing through different things I need to accomplish. And believe it or not – it’s addicting. The longer of a distance I swim, the farther I want to swim the next time I’m in the water.
What prompted you to want to swim the English Channel?
This was a great challenge I wanted to accomplish – and I would love to one day say I’ve completed all seven of the Ocean’s Seven. I’m warming up in June with a 12.5 mile swim around Key West and then the goal is the English Channel in September. I love to compete – against myself. When I was racing triathlons, my anxiety was overwhelming. I always was worried about the other racers and the event. With ultra-distance swimming, it’s all about me. I can base competing off of competing against myself – no one else. And I love that. It’s all about what I can control. That mindset has been helpful for me. This race is the ultimate test of what I can accomplish as a swimmer.