Just thought I’d post this story that Barry Critchley was nice enough to write about me and MIMS today…




Banker loves a marathon

Barry Critchley, Financial Post ยท Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2010

Challenge, especially of the physical variety, is something that doesn’t faze Robert Kent, a member of the global markets group at HSBC’s Toronto office.

Kent completed (well, almost) a swim across the English Channel, has numerous triathlons under his belt and has run the equivalent of a marathon a day for six days in the Sahara desert.

On Saturday the 45-year-old Kent faces his next challenge: a 46-kilometre swim around Manhattan Island.

And it’s not just a swim; it’s actually a race for the 27 solo swimmers who will take to the water at 7.25 a.m. and traverse the island in a counterclockwise direction, meaning that after entering the water off Battery Park they swim up the East River, through the Harlem River before meeting the Hudson River for the southward leg back to Battery Park.

“It’s to do with the tides,” said Kent, when referring to the early start and the direction of the course. “You want the tide coming in to help you go upstream and, as the tide is going out, hopefully you have made the corner and are going back downstream,” said Kent, the only Canadian in the race. Of the swimmers, 17 are from America. With five, Australia’s is the next-largest contingent.

And the racers won’t just be battling the tides: There is the reasonably cold temperature (it’s been in the mid-60s F for the past five races) and the constant flow of boats on the river. Swimmers are warned.

“There can be a substantial amount of chop in the water from wind, tide action and boat traffic. The waterways are salt water and there is shipping traffic. There may be random jetsam and flotsam in the waterways,” said a note on the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim website.

And the swimmers have to maintain a certain speed, which requires them to be at a certain spot at a certain time. If not, they get the hook. “Part of it’s because of the tide,” said Kent, who will have the services of a captain and a crew.

The former will pass on directional and strategic moves while the latter supply Kent with food — and encouragement.

Getting into the race is rather difficult given the event is normally limited to about 25 swimmers. Applicants fill out the necessary forms, pay the cash and hope they get picked.

Only those who have posted decent times in other open-water swimming events need apply. One friend of his applied nine times before being selected last year. Kent, who has been swimming at least 35 kilometres a week, is a first-time applicant.

Kent, a father of three, one of whom (Dylan) is on a swimming scholarship at the University of Maryland, hasn’t run out of ideas for his next challenge.

“I have got a list as long as my arm of ones that I would like to do,” he said. Indeed, Kent said that it feeds on itself.

“The more you do the challenges, the more interesting people you meet, and the more interesting ideas that you get,” said Kent who went to the swimming trials for the 1988 Olympic games.

The irony: Back then, Kent was a sprinter devoting his attention to 100-metre and 200-metre breaststroke. Now he likes races that extend to 46 kilometres and take 10 hours to complete.


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I founded LOST Swimming because I like open water swimming and would like to see it grow and thrive in Lake Ontario. I started as a competitive swimmer as a kid and ended up getting as far as a silver medal at Nationals and going to the Olympic Trials in 1988. But I retired after that, I was sick of swimming. So I got into running marathons and have run over 35 to date, as well as a few ultra marathons, including the Marathon des Sables (7 day, ultra across the Sahara Desert). I also kind of fell into triathlons and have done a handful of Ironman tri's too. This gradually got me back in the water and in 2006 I took the plunge and attempted swimming the English Channel. I didn't quite make it across, but the circle was now complete and after 17 years I was a swimmer again! Although I still do plenty of pool swimming, I now much prefer open water swimming and like to say that open water swimming is to pool swimming, what trail running is to treadmill running! As a result I hope to encourage more people to join me for a dip in Lake Ontario as often as we can!


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