Continuous improvement

Today, the hero of my blog is Artem Ismagilov. He wasn’t known to have any prior professional swimming experience, however, on the 8th day of the 8th month of 2015 (2+0+1+5 also equals 8) he managed to swim eight kilometers in open water in several hours!

Artem encourages everyone with his improvement and way of life. I watched him become a sports snowboarder from a professional one, and then he moved to stock photography. Both times were vastly successful. At the same time, Artem came third in the Russian Wakeboarding Championship, met his beautiful wife and became a father of two lovely kids. He chose to quit photography, started shooting video and again succeeded as an art-director of the company’s new direction as a video studio.

This year he tried something new – the first in his life swim in open water from shore to shore. Artem accepted this challenge thrown down by his friend Andrei Shishkin. Andrei is also an athlete, who thoroughly prepares for sports events with professional coaches using all the latest technologies. He was sure that it’s impossible to swim 8 kilometers across the lake without the help of a coach. Artem decided to prove that motivation and self-preparation are more important. They had a bet. Andrei has put his fancy sports bike at stake, and Artem has promised to get a tattoo if he loses.

Eight is the lucky number for the entire project: besides being the symbol of infinity, and the fact that the swim happened on the 8th day of the 8th month, even a bicycle is similar to number 8 in shape.

Artem had six months to get prepared. The task was to swim 8 kilometers in open water. In fact, the active phase of his preparation began three months before the event. His job and errands caused the delay. However, the time came when Artem realized that if he doesn’t start now, he won’t succeed. And so he began.

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Eight rules for his preparation:

  1. Perform the most difficult swim for the first time to check your capabilities and set a starting point;
  2. Look through thematic forums and talk with people who did long swims in open water before. Define the goal based on the test swim and draw up the training program;
  3. Draw up a weekly training schedule: one training session in the pool, 2-3 workouts in open water for a few hours each (the lakes are 100 km away) as well as running, skipping rope, and stretching;
  4. Continually estimate your time limits of being in open water and work to increase them (interval endurance swims, alternating rhythm and speed);
  5. Perform strength swims (swim with the same rhythm and speed as long as possible);
  6. A buoy attached to you should contain a running uniform, a phone for navigation and training tracking, as well as Isostar sports nutrition;
  7. Listen to your body and adjust the training on the go;
  8. Watch your breath and learn to breathe correctly.

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Uvildy lake in Chelyabinsk region has been chosen for the swim. The swimmer could stay in the water as long as he wanted, have a rest and eat. The swimmer loses if he grabs the buoy, touches the boat or admits that he lost.

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Eight rules for the swim:

  1. Form a support team in the boat and on the shore near the finish line;
  2. Attach the same sports nutrition to the buoy that was used during the training;
  3. Create a playlist with favorite music, which gives an emotional charge during the swim;
  4. Find the right rhythm and get into it, which helps to move with ease for a long time;
  5. Be mentally and physically prepared for different weather: head tide and waves;
  6. Be familiar with the lake for the swim (Artem admitted that he made a mistake not having a single training session in Uvildy lake);
  7. The buoy should contain only an essential number of items and food to avoid its weight collecting seaweed and creating unneeded obstacles for the swim;
  8. Always remember the goal: to feel the shore and land underfoot. This helps to swim up to the very end.

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This summer wasn’t particularly hot. Artem trained 4-5 times a week, regularly traveling to the lakes in any weather. His wetsuit, movement, family and friends’ support helped to not get cold. Dedication helped, too. Three months of training have passed quickly. The big day has come. Artem puts on his wetsuit, hat and goes into the water. He swam longer than he expected. There was one time when Artem was swimming but he wasn’t moving towards the shore for nearly an hour. As soon as he realized this, he immediately changed his technique, and began to approach the finish line again. The last two kilometers were the most difficult. He was ready to quit several times, to get out and get a tattoo. But he didn’t give up. Artem swam for four and a half hours to cover more than eight kilometers and won the bet. When he reached the shore, people applauded him, while he hardly remembered his name. He could barely speak. But he did it!

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“It’s hard to imagine that I started with one kilometer three months ago!” – Artem says, looking back at that day. “I’ve done what matters most – I’ve changed myself. Although, I must say that when you freak out in the water for several hours straight, all the tattoos, bikes, and all the numbers, including eight, become insignificant. I distinctly remember that the best thing for me that day was to feel solid ground under my feet.”