Brian Porter – The Long-Distance Swimmer
The canton of Zug is not short of open water. Brian Porter, a Californian who now lives in Walchwil, loves swimming so much that he has swum the whole length of Lake Zug from Zug to Arth – within three hours.
When Brian Porter takes off his neoprene suit after swimming in the cool Lake Zug, you cannot fail to notice in what good shape he is. You would never think he is 59. Instead of a paunch, like many of those his age, Porter has a toned stomach like someone half his age. Brian Porter trains a lot. He is a passionate swimmer. Water is his element, so it is good that he lives in Walchwil with a view of the lake. In fact from his lounge he has a fantastic view of the Rigi and the Chiemen, as well as Lake Zug itself, and, what is more, in three directions, to the south towards Arth, to the west towards Immensee and to the north towards Cham. On this particular afternoon, the lake surface was a bit choppy, but it changes all the time. “Every day is different” he said, showing some emotion, which is not usual for him.
As a result of his passion and the views he has from Walchwil, it struck him he might try to swim the whole length of the lake, a distance of 12 kilometres. He actually did it in three hours and three minutes, swimming at an average speed of almost four kilometres per hour, quite an exceptional achievement. Mind you, he did train beforehand.
A group of like-minded people
The reason why Brian Porter learnt how to swim goes back to when his mother had a nightmare and dreamt her son was drowning. This is why she taught him to swim as a three-year-old boy. As young as four he felt so much at home in the water that he entered competitions, like his father. Then he went onto compete in long-distance races and triathlons. Whether he was at school, studying, in the military or while at work, swimming has always been part of his life. Nowadays he starts every day with a swim, either at the lido in Walchwil in the summer or at the Loreto Pool in Zug, where he meets up with other like-minded people, most of whom are successful business people like himself. Swimming is a lonely sport as you cannot really talk to others at the same time. Nevertheless, Porter has found friends while swimming, discussing technique before and after training. Good swimming is not so much to do with strength itself, it is more about the technique of making the maximum use of it. Some people say it is 100 % technique.
Training documented on an Excel table
As a qualified engineer, Porter is used to target-oriented technology. He has worked for Swiss companies in eastern Europe, China and Africa as well as in Europe. He approached his swim across Lake Zug almost as if it was a major technical project. For years he just used to swim a “mere” 200 to 300 kilometres. Then he increased this to 600 a year, as an Excel table on his computer shows. Before the day of the great swim, he increased the distance covered weekly in the pool from 10 to 40 kilometres. “Then, when the temperature of the lake began to rise, I trained in the early mornings at the Seeliken Lido in Zug and at 10 am I went swimming off Walchwil again” he explained. He was in such good form in June that he would have been able to set off then but the temperature of the water of Lake Zug was too cold for the 12-kilometre stretch. This meant he had to carry on training until July. And what happens when Brian Porter cannot make a daily swim ? “Well, then I do not feel so good,” he said as he moved towards the edge of his sofa, his face bathed in the warm evening light. “It is just that I have too much
energy in me.”
This interview is an extract from the brochure “Leisure Time in the Canton Zug” by Zug Tourismus. You can pick up a copy at their offices at the main train station in Zug.
Photos by Daniela Kienzler (www.danielakienzler.ch)