Dallas Man's Icy Road to Swimming the English Channel

Swimmer's two-year training program includes regular dips in ice water

Everything about Bryan Mineo says, "I'm an athlete."

He has almost no body fat and is committed to a clean, healthy diet.

Mineo, who owns a fitness company and coaches triathletes and swimmers, plans to swim the English Channel next year. He set the goal, a feat commonly referred to as "the Mount Everest of swimming," a few years ago.

The straight-line distance across the channel, the arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England and northern France, is 21 miles. But swimmers have to swim much farther because of the effects of tides.

Between 20 and 30 people make successful solo swims across the English Channel every year. More than 10 people have already done it this year.

Mineo put together a two-year training program last year. It includes upping his daily swimming mileage, monitoring his nutrition and acclimating himself to the frigid water temperatures.

Right now, he swims twice per day, covering about six miles. Things get a little chilly while acclimating himself to the frigid waters he'll see in the Atlantic.

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Mineo hopes to take his dip in September 2014, when the water is traditionally at its warmest -- if you consider 60 degrees warm. Most pool temperatures are in the upper 80s.

Twice per day, he submerges himself into a bath tub of cold water and then adds three or four bags of ice. He sits in it for about a half hour each time.

"I'm doing this every day," he said. "Closer to the race, I'll be in the ice bath a full hour a day."

From the ice bath, it's a quick jaunt to the pool, where spends much of his day, alone with his thoughts and isolated in a lap lane.

Mineo is well aware of the dangers in open-water swimming.

Just two weeks ago, a British woman collapsed in the water about a mile from the end of the trek. She was pulled from the water and later died at a French hospital.

"The minute you start thinking about the inherent dangers -- going hypothermic or a shark could attack me -- your swim is over," Mineo said. "You can't just think that way. I think very positively. I think about songs, count numbers. I keep my mind busy."

Mineo will be in the water alone, but a full support team will be on a nearby boat.

"You can't touch the boats or a person," he said. "You can stop, but that means treading water, which means possibly going hypothermic. It's a fine balance."

If a swimmer wants to eat during the swim, the team on the boat has to extend a feeding stick. The rod gives swimmers rations of water, electrolyte mixes and food.

Mineo's food of choice is baby food.

"My biggest trick right now are those squeeze bottles of baby food," he said. "They digest easily. It's pure fruit."

According to channel swimming rules, one of the team members has to be a doctor. Mineo has that covered; his fiancee will graduate medical school later this year.

The average time of successful solo swims is 13 hours. Mineo hopes to do it in 10.

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