German swim ace Thomas Lurz

28 year old Thomas Lurz from Germany won the bronze medal in the 10k open water swim in Beijing and is the current 5k open water World Champion. We may see him before too long at an Ironman triathlon.

ST: You had an amazing 2008 season with bronze medals at the Olympic 10k swim and the 10k Worlds, and a World Champion title at the 5k Worlds. You must be quite satisfied.

Thomas: Yes I am very satisfied with my season 2008. Even though I was very close at the Olympics in the 10k to the first and especially to the 2nd place finisher. I had worked and trained very hard for this event the last months and years.

ST: Take us back to the Olympic games. What was it like to be part of the Olympics?

Thomas: Great of course. To be part of the Olympics is I think for every athlete the best in sport. You are training for this very hard and spend many hourse in your training facility for this target to be part of the Olympics. It was my second time at the Olympics after Athens 2004.

ST: In Athens, what events did you compete in and how did it go?

Thomas: I swam the 1500m free and I wasn’t very good. I was 22nd and had one of my worst results/times I have ever had in my swimming career. But I learned a lot after this experience.

ST: Were you surprised during the Olympic 10k swim in Beijing how the field split towards the end and how the race ended?

Thomas: No. It was nearly the same race like in Sevilla at the Worlds and qualification for Beijing. In the 10k races it mostly happened like this. Especially at rowing courses because there are no waves and you can see every swimmer clearly in the field and the last 1.5k everyone tries to do their best after 8.5k. It’s the finish.

ST: Of all the race results in your career, which one are you most proud off and why?

Thomas: My two victories at the worlds in 2006 in Naples, Italy. There I won the 5k and the 10k and it is difficult to win both races in only two days. You are very tired after one race in the waves and then one day later you need to be again in a very good shape.

ST: What are your personal records over 800m, 1500m, 5k and 10k?

- long course 800m free 7:51,56 (it was national record)
- long course 1500m free 15:00,90
- short course 800m free 7:45 (it was split time during the 1500mfree)
- short course 1500m free 14:37,98

5k and 10k is very different because you can’t compare the times in open water. There are always different conditions and you also never swim the exactly distances.

ST: What do you think about the recent swimskin development in your sport? Is it a good thing?

Thomas: I think in the swim skin development will grow up still in the next years. The companies will try to find new materials and new methods to make a better swim skin, which brings also faster times in the pool. But for the kids it’s going to be very expensive thing. To spend nearly 400 euros for a swimsuit it’s quite a lot. But I like to swim with swim skins. It could be also a possibilty for sponsors to do advertising. There is enough space on the suit.

ST: With the open water swim discipline now being Olympic, do you think there will be more 1,500m folks converting over to open water?

Thomas: I think there will be more who will try this. If they stay there or not is a different question, and I think only a few will because it’s different. It’s nearly seven times longer, no turns, the water can be cold, plus waves and swimming in a group. But it’s good to be a fast 1500m swimmer in the 10k. I also came from the pool and I still try to swim both events and not forget the 1500m in the pool. And also the two different kinds of swims makes for fun and it’s not going to be boring.

ST: Can you share with us what a week of training looks like?

Thomas: I have 11 swim sessions with the first at 6:15 in the morning. It can be up to a maximum of 110km swimming in the week. I also go to the gym two or three a week and two or three times I work out on a stationary bike.

ST: What do you do to overcome a disappointing race?

Thomas: I try to work even harder in the training. I try to learn from the result and look what I did wrong and not to do it again. Disappointing races belong to sport and it can happen.

ST: What other sports do you participate in?

Thomas: I played soccer when I was a kid. But when I started to swim more seriously I stopped. I also was skateboarding for more than 8 years but you must be carefull with this because you can hurt yourself very easily. So I do this now very seldom, I actually nearly stopped it.

ST: Have you considered doing triathlons?

Thomas: Yes. I think after my swimming career it can be that I will do an Ironman. Then I want to break the swim record. But unfortunately I am not the best in running I think. ;)

ST: How fast do you think you could swim the 3.8k in an Ironman?

Thomas: It also depends on the course and if it’s with a wetsuit. I don’t know how fast I can swim this distance, but I guess I can go under 40 minutes, perhaps short under 39 minutes.

ST: How are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?

Thomas: It’s going good but also can be better. Swimming is not a sport where you can earn good money for what are you training. But I never started swimming to earn money. That’s the reason why I also studied at a University to have a life after swimming.

ST: What does your off-season look like?

Thomas: In the past I was skateboarding a lot. Now I am going to be older and I need to relax and recover more from the season. I just sleep in the mornings longer and then do what I want to do. It’s different every time. But usually I don’t go to the swimming pool to relax there. ;)

ST: Do you follow any other sports?

Thomas: I am interested in some sports. In Germany soccer is popular and I am fan of FC Bayern Muenchen. I also look at other sports.

ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?

Thomas: I like to eat some German stuff, sushi, and also pizza and sometimes burgers. I dislike olives and certain kinds of cheese.

ST: What is your music taste?

Thomas: Rock and roll and many other things. Some bands like the Ramones, Van Morrison or Misfits.

ST: What was the last book you read?

Thomas: I think it was a book from Jan Ullrich.

ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Thomas: I hope in a good job and happy with what I am doing. Starting to have a family and hope to still be healthy.

ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?

Thomas: My older brother has been my coach for the last 4 years. He is two years older than me.