Paolo's Marathon Swim x30 Day Challenge

Swim Smooth Dubai coach, Paolo Mangilinan is currently on day 14 of his 30 day marathon swim challenge. He's swimming a whopping 10km swim every day for 30 days running! The magnitude of this challenge is incredible and we have been diligently checking in on his daily progress.

In the midst of his busy schedule of coaching, dad duties and 10km swims every day, we managed to have a quick catch up with him to hear how he has been getting on. Paolo shares his inspiration for the swim and his training and nutrition schedule for his swim below - it's a great read.

Man or machine? Meet Swim Smooth Dubai Coach, Paolo Mangilinan

What is the 30 day challenge? 

Paolo: It has been going on for 4 years in Dubai and was started by the Crown Prince of Dubai. The aim is to complete 30 mins of exercise for 30 days. 2 years ago, someone did a marathon every day for 30 days and this really inspired me to do something similar. This is the first year I have done it. Instead of doing a marathon, I decided to do a marathon swim every day. It has been in my head for the past year and this year was the year I decided to go ahead with it. Especially with all Ironman events being cancelled, this year is perfect because it allows me to focus on swimming. I am a triathlete really, but I love swimming and this has allowed me to focus on just that.

Have you noticed a change in your fitness during the challenge? 

Paolo: I haven't noticed a great change in my swim fitness, on day 14 the distance still doesn't feel easier, but my mindset has changed. Getting in the water on day 1, I felt apprehensive about whether I would complete the 10k distance, but now when you say a 10k swim, I can do it. I get in the water confident.

This has been helped by the incredible support from my squad swimmers. They have been instrumental in keeping me going for these past few weeks. Every day, I have different squad swimmers offering to swim 2k, 5k or even 8k with me, their support has been pretty overwhelming. This swim feels like a team effort rather than a solo race, I find this really inspiring - this is what Swim Smooth squads are all about!

How have you prepared for the race? 

Paolo: This idea has been brewing for the past year and my preparation officially started in January 2020. When I visited Perth for the Swim Smooth Coaches Certification Course in February my CSS was 1:27min/100m. Obviously, it was great to get the coach mentoring from Paul Newsome, but swimming with the Perth squad really spurred me on with my training. The video analysis sessions from the course taught me a lot about my swim stroke, Paul's pointers on my technique were invaluable and really motivated me to train and become more efficient. 

When I got back to Dubai, my training was going really well, but then we were put into lockdown and I was no longer able to get to the pool. I did a lot of cardio and stretch cord work to work on my fitness, this definitely kept me going and allowed me to return to the pool as prepared as I could be.

Coming out of lockdown, I followed the Swim Smooth Guru 10km training plan, but added a few more long distance training swims. I also asked my wife to film me swimming in the open water just after lockdown, I looked like I wasn't moving, my stroke rate was roughly 64 SPM. Improving my cadence became one area that I wanted to focus on. The following months, once or twice a week I worked on gradually increasing my stroke rate by 2SPM using the Tempo Trainer Pro. I started with 4 x 400m swims at an increased stroke rate and gradually increased the stroke rate. I'm now swimming at 74 SPM and I'm not straining myself holding this stroke rate, my swim fitness has adapted to be able to deal with this. I love the feeling of the higher stroke rate!

In the 3-4 weeks before the challenge I was swimming around 40-50km every week and have got my CSS down to 1:21min/100m. And I actually feel great, yes, I can feel my arms now but I feel ready to get back in the water tomorrow.

How are you managing your nutrition and hydration? 

Paolo: I'm completing the swims early in the morning at 6:30am to try and beat the heat in Dubai. Even at that time the water temperature is 28 degrees celsius. My swim time is about 2:45 - 3hrs so I finish about 11am. I normally have a couple of bananas before the swim and water as and when I need it. I have a kayak with me so I have gels and protein bars on there, but not too much. We need the space on the kayak to carry vaseline! I don't really measure everything accurately, but stop every 3km to take on water and a bit of food before I start to feel hungry. 

During the swims I am burning 1800 calories so after that I make sure I load a lot in the afternoons and evenings. I don't want to swim with a heavy tummy, especially with the salt water.

What has been the most difficult thing about the challenge? 

Paolo: The sleep! I am still coaching and I have a 5 month old baby to look after so balancing my day is a challenge. I try to get 8hrs - 11hrs of sleep a night. If I get that, I am sure that I will have a good swim.

Getting my nutrition and sleep right is important to make sure that I don't get injured or ill - this is my biggest priority.

What are your 3 top tips for someone thinking about this challenge? 

- Be prepared to prepare - give yourself enough time to prepare sufficiently for the challenge.

- Know your body - know your diet, know your body's capabilities, make sure you get enough sleep.

- Make sure you get the mileage in!

Thanks Paolo and enjoy the rest of your challenge - we'll be watching from around the world.

You can keep up to date with the rest of Paolo's 30 day challenge by following @swimsmoothdubai on Instagram and Facebook.

Are you thinking of doing a challenge like this? We'd love to hear about it! Email us on or message us on Instagram or Facebook

Swim Smooth!


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