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Golfers Al Espinosa, Horten Smith, Joe Turnesa, Walter Hagen, and Gene Sarazen
Eney Jones

Staying in the Game: Focus, Change and not staying the same!

Eney Jones, Pool and Open Water Champion

"Everything changes and nothing stands still” Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

What swimmers can learn from golf

Cross knowledge is as important to achieve excellence in athletic performance as cross training.

The above photo was given to me by my golf teacher, Joe Turnesa. He was second in the U.S. Open in 1927. When Joe taught me to play golf I was 24, he was 84. The game of golf is amazing. One of its many attributes is that it can incorporate two players of such different ages. The above, photo left to right: Al Espinosa, Horten Smith, Joe Turnesa, Walter Hagen, and Gene Sarazen.

One of the greatest gifts that Joe and the game of golf gave me was learning to stay present. In many long distance activities it is easy “to zone out”. He used to say to me, “It is mind over matter, if you don’t put it in your mind, it doesn’t matter.”

In tournament golf you are allowed 14 clubs in your bag. You pick your clubs by knowing the course you are going to play. In open water swimming you want to have different clubs in your bag, i.e. skills, but the problem is the course is changing while you are swimming in it. The only constant is change. But just like golf you have options; in golf if you are sitting just off the green you can putt, use a sand wedge, a pitching wedge or a nine iron. Not only does the club change but you can change your stroke. This is true in open water swimming too.

Changing your stroke

You can change your stroke to meet sea conditions.

  • Flat Water. If you are in flat water, like a lake, you can go for your pool DPS (Distance per Stroke) but remember it is not golf and there is no prize for taking the fewer amounts of strokes.
  • Choppy Seas. If you are in choppy seas, tempo is your friend helping you to anchor in the front and stay connected in the back to hold your line.
  • High Seas. If you are in high seas, you can lower your recovery but keep the underneath part of your stroke the same.
  • Prepare for all conditions

  • Experience. Nothing beats it. Do races and collect your own experiences.
  • Research. Talk to people that have done the races before. Look up the temperature and tides and the conditions for the actual time of the race.
  • Preview. Go to the race venue at the time you are racing. Look at the sun, the course layout, and the surrounding buildings to use as markers. Everything. Look at everything.
  • Unknown. How do you prepare for the unknown? By preparing for the known and STAYING PRESENT enough to deal with whatever may come your way.
  • Mental clarity

    An Aboriginal saying that resonates with me is: “The more you know, the less you need.”

    Ten days before Sir Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile, he went climbing, to clear his head, and remain present and focused.

    Be a hero of your own weaknesses

    A way to improve your knowledge of your sport is to be the hero of your own weaknesses. Gene Sarazen (above image far right) was a terrible sand player. In 1932 he invented the sand wedge which he kept secret until he debuted at the US Open in 1932. He went from being one of the worst sand players to the best. He won the 1932 US Open and that same year was the Associated Press Man of the Year.

    As a triathlete I was always very tight in my psoas muscle from running and riding. So I invented a pull buoy, The EneyBuoy2, where you can fill the bottom capsule thus stretching the psoas and keep the back capsule empty to allow the hips to rise and rotate using and stretching your psoas muscle.

    Rather than live by the philosophy, live and learn, I would suggest the philosophy learn and live, so you can enjoy and stay in the game. Now get out there!

    Eney Jones has achieved remarkably diverse success as a leading pool, open water and Ironman triathlon swimmer, and is also a yoga instructor.

    • Masters National Champion 100-200-400-500-1500-1650 5k freestyle 2009
    • Open Water 5k Champion Perth Australia, May 2008.
    • National Masters Champion 200-400-1500 freestyle Champion, Portland Oregon, August, 2008.
    • Overall Champion Aumakua 2.4k Maui Hawaii, September 2008
    • Waikiki Rough Water Swim 3rd place 2006, second place Overall 2009, 3rd place 2012
    • European Record Holder and Masters Swimming Champion, 2005. Records included 200, 400, 800, 1500 m freestyle
    • Over twenty time finalist in U.S. Swimming Nationals, including Olympic Trials 1980
    • Gold medal NCAA 800 yd freestyle relay 1979, silver Medalist 200 yd freestyle 1979. United States National Team 1979-1980.
    • Professional Triathlete 1983-1991. First woman out of the water in every Hawaiian Ironman participated (6).

    More about Eney Jones.

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