How Mat Fraser Nearly Drowned at the Crossfit Games

How Mat Fraser Nearly Drowned at the Crossfit Games

Chris Hinshaw is the founder of, and is widely considered one of the top endurance coaches in the world. Chris is known internationally for his extensive knowledge and practical experience developing aerobic capacity in athletes of all experience levels using his comprehensive, cutting edge approach to training.

“Fraser almost drowned one year in the Games,” he said in a conversation on the podcast Mark Bell’s Power Project.

“[He] enters the water first,” Hinshaw recalled. “And one of the things that people don’t understand, when you are running and you get into the water, you recover significantly faster by being prone. And so I told him, hit the water and be gassed, make sure you’re out in front. And he did it, he’s a soldier. So he hits the water… remember it’s 500 meters, you have to swim basically diagonal to the shore, round a buoy… and swim across the original starting spot, parallel to the shore, hit a second buoy, and then come back to the boat ramp and be done.”

“He passes the first buoys, and in first place, he starts getting passed as it’s going down the long straightaway by the faster swimmers. So as a response, you know what he does? He drops in behind them and drafts, because it’s 20 plus percent easier being number two. Which means that you can go 20 percent faster, or if you’re the same speed, just save 20 percent of your energy. That’s what he’s learned. And so one of the things he had to do was accelerate his kick because the person was more than 20 percent faster.”

What they later learned, Hinshaw explained, is that Fraser did not have the aerobic capacity required for that kick, and his legs ended up consuming all of that oxygen. “Next thing you know, Brent Fikowski, one of the podium finishers that year, grabs him and pulls him, because he was bobbing in the water. He was going to drown,” he said.

Disaster averted, however, Fraser was still able to complete the swim. “Here he is, he almost dies in an event, yet he finishes fifth.”

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