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Image for Marty Filipowski achieves marathon swimming's 'Triple Crown'

Marty Filipowski achievesmarathon swimming's 'TripleCrown'

Marathon swimmer Marty Filipowski has returned home from the United States after conquering the gruelling 48.5 kilometre loop of Manhattan Island and subsequently achieving what is known as swimming’s “Triple Crown”.

The out gay 53-year old grew up in America but has been living in Sydney for more than a decade, which is where he found his passion for long distance swimming.

Filipowski finished the race in an incredible 7 hours and 38 minutes to join an exclusive group of swimmers who have successfully completed the English Channel (33.7km), the Catalina Channel (32.5km) and the Island of Manhattan (48.5km) – the Triple Crown.

“I never even thought I might swim around Manhattan, let alone imagine that the swim would be the third in my Triple Crown journey,” he tells Same Same.

“I just kept telling myself ‘Wow! I am swimming around Manhattan!’”

After spending the past five years training for the epic swim, on August 15 Filipowski became the eleventh Australian, and one of only 136 people in the world to achieve the monumental feat.

“My journey for the Triple Crown began in 2011 when I started training for my solo English Channel crossing which was two years later in 2013,” he explains.

“The training for my solo swim around Manhattan began in 2015 after I swam the Catalina Channel in August of that year.

“Each was difficult in its own way and required me to prepare for many unique conditions. The first two swims required me to do things such as train in the cold and dark whereas New York required extra focus on speed for a good, consistent pace so that I would make the tides.”

Marathon swimming presents many challenges both mentally and physically, which Filipowski has experienced first-hand, including a run-in with hypothermia ahead of his English Channel crossing. Since then, he has refined his approach to open water swimming and uses a periodic tactic to lead him to the finish.

“I was pulled out of the water with hypothermia while training for my first attempt at a long swim in cold conditions,” he explains. “My coaches and team helped me overcome this by developing a plan that saw me increase my percentage of body fat for added insulation to be able to effectively swim in the cold.

“During my swims, I just go stroke for stroke and from feed to feed. I don’t worry about what can go wrong or how long they might take; I just keep swimming. After a feed, I know my next one is 30-45 minutes away, which is a shorter block of time to get through, mentally, than the entire swim.”

Filipowski first got into open water swimming when he was living in Australia in 2004, and then got into marathon swimming in 2011. He credits his father for being his source of inspiration and the people around him for attributing to his success.

“My Dad was a quarterback on his football team during college. He pretty much taught me you can achieve what you want if you are willing to work for it. And while my swims might appear as solo efforts, they can’t happen without great support in the lead-up and on the day from my coaches, partner, manager at work, dietician, massage therapist, mates and more.”

Being recognised as an openly gay athlete is just as rewarding for Filipowski as his accomplishments and accolades. He hopes that he can inspire others who may be struggling with their own personal pursuits as a result of their sexuality.

“I knew I was gay at a very early age, but didn’t have any visible role models to look up to or help me have the confidence to just be myself,” he says. “So by being visible I hope to help others in their journey.”

Filipowski’s message to other LGBT athletes and the community at large is simple: “Teams that embrace diversity are more successful. This applies from the office to sport.”

With the Triple Crown under his belt, Filipowski is looking to add another feather to his cap when he tackles the 26 kilometres that separates the North and the South islands of New Zealand next year.

“The Triple Crown has given me the confidence to keep going with more swims. The Cook Strait in New Zealand and some other swims are included in my goals.”

You can follow Marty Filipowski on Instagram here.

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