We linked up with swim coach & open water trainer Bryan Mineo to find out more about his life coaching in the open water, his podcast (SMOGCAST), open water swimming tips, and much more. Read the interview below to get to know The Swim Mechanic & watch Mineo swim all 4 strokes using his Laguna Fins while battling the waves and the ocean current in the video below. Laguna Fin Co is a perfect training tool for triathletes and open water swimmers to build leg muscle and excel in open water swimming.
Interview with Bryan Mineo (@theswimmechanic)
I was inspired to start coaching open water in Texas literally because I had a fear of the open water when I was a teenager. I had a near-drowning experience when I was 18 and it was humbling because I was a swimmer, but I didn't realize I had a fear of the open water. I thought it was all the same - swimming is swimming no matter where you do it, which is not the case. After 18, I taught myself how to overcome this fear in my own way, and it was a slow process. Throughout this process I grew a pretty massive passion for the open water and naturally I wanted help people find this same joy of the open water. I realized most people don't even approach the open water because of some sort of innate fear.
I've been coaching swimming for about 12 years now and it's morphed into almost exclusively open water, which I love! It’s a dream to be paid to be in the ocean everyday, but it all really started in the pool. I think it does start in the pool because often times that controlled environment allows people to overcome fear and learn the mechanics to prepare them for the ocean. So, as a natural progression - a few years coaching in the pool lead to a few years coaching in the lake, which lead to the past 6 years coaching in the ocean here in California. Every year seems to get better!
The hardest thing in coaching and particularly in open water swimming is getting the athletes to slow their minds down. Most of my swimmers are very type A, they’re very cerebral and intellectual, so they want to fast track their progress. They want to work on multiple things at once, so my advice for coaches and athletes is to simplify the equation and focus on one thing at a time.
SMOG was founded in LA. It's a clever acronym because of all the smog in LA. It stands for the Swim Mechanic Ocean Group. Founding this group, my idea was to create an arms wide-open community where everyone is welcome. We have beginners to Olympians in the group and now there's almost two thousand people in SMOG. We have year round groups in San Francisco, LA, & San Diego. Our goal is to create a safe and fun environment for you to swim, with lifeguards & paddle support. If you want to come try open water swimming this is the place for you. Come try us out for free anytime.
I am constantly inspired by the stories of everyone who comes into SMOG. I get the new swimmer who is definitely scared of the water on day one, and on day 365 a year later they are doing an Ironman. Through this I have drawn inspiration on how the ocean can drastically change someone’s life and inspire them to do more. SMOGCAST is my podcast where I interview these very remarkable, accomplished athletes on their stories. How they’ve overcome fear, how they’ve used it as a catalyst on other parts of their lives, and how to inspire others to do the same.
Swimming is arguably the most technical sport in the world. With that said, it takes a lot of patience, patience on yourself. My advice is always to take it slow. It’s truly a lifelong sport and you’ll always be learning from it. Be patient and take your time. There's plenty of time to improve. Also try to limit the expectations you have on yourself. Everyday you get to the open water is different. The ocean is super dynamic, which means you have to be flexible with what you have at hand.
Laguna Fins have been a game changer for my athletes. You typically don’t think about using fins for open water swimming, but there’s no reason not to use them. They’re super helpful, particularly these fins don’t add too much propulsion, rather they highlight nuance inefficiency in your stroke. For all 4 strokes they allow you to feel the water and feel the mechanics of your kick. For my guys we use them in the pool for drills and we use them out in the open water. You can really feel what’s going on with your stroke using Laguna Fins.
I love how Laguna Fin Co is based on community. They are really big on having local relationships with their swimmers, their stores, their coaches. More importantly their fins are amazing; the best fins I’ve ever worn. They are extremely comfortable. They’ve got a really nice short blade that doesn’t have too much stiffness to it, and they’re really light. The neoprene allows them to float so you can’t lose them in the ocean. They’ve got an adjustable strap on the back so you can get the perfect fit for yourself. Most importantly you can wear them for all four strokes. I love doing breaststroke - I was a breaststroker as a kid, and this is the first time I’ve been able to wear fins for breaststroke. They are truly the best fins out there.