Morgan Filler is a world class marathon swimmer who spent four years on the international pro circuit swimming in oceans, lakes and rivers for up to 11 hours at a time, pushing her body to endure extreme temperatures, polluted water, and numerous challenges from Mother Nature (not to mention the other competitors). How does she do it? If you ask Morgan, she’ll tell you this: One stroke at a time.
Like many athletes, Morgan grew up in an active family. As a teenager in Gaithersburg, Maryland, she swam the annual 4.4 mile race across Chesapeake Bay with her father and twin brother. Throughout high school and while attending Colby College in Maine, she continued swimming competitively and also started racing above the water on the crew team.
After graduation Morgan spent four years on an international pro-circuit and World Cup Series for Open Water Marathon Swimming, training full time with the Mission Viejo Natadores in southern California. She swam in races from 10km (2 hours) to 88km (10 hours) throughout the world. Battling waves, hypothermia, dehydration, sea life, boats, extreme heat, wind, and/or nausea, she focused and won a 25km World Cup race in Fukuoka, Japan and the 2001 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. During this time, she was a member of the US National Open Water team and was honored by the Hall of Fame for Marathon Swimming.
Morgan’s Advice for Aspiring Marathon Swimmers: If you enjoy swimming and are interested in training for open water events, start by swimming on vacations where you have access to oceans or lakes. Pack basic tools like goggles, fins, even snorkels to start with. Have fun and explore until you feel comfortable in open water. If interested in the competitive aspect, look for shorter races to start and build up to longer events.
In recent years, Morgan’s training has focused on fulfilling her dream to participate in the 2008 Bejing Olympics, where 10k Marathon Swimming is featured for the first time. That pursuit concluded in October 2007 after the US National Championships. Today Morgan is focused on evolving her athletic goals while deepening her connection to nature, an important spiritual component of her love for open water swimming. She also runs her own massage therapy practice and coaches other athletes while continuing daily training that integrates pool and open water swimming, yoga, running, biking, surfing and kayaking.
The Fat Advantage: Next time you’re lamenting the fact that women have about 5% more body fat than men, remember that in open water swimming our extra body fat gives us two unique advantages: It insulates us from the cold water and makes us more buoyant.