Hayden Cotter's Snapshot Bio

Hayden Cotter has won the Powercor Lorne Pier to Pub 3 times in the last 3 years, and doubled up in his first two years by winning the Juniors only a few hours beforehand!

His wins have claimed some really big names, including two Rio Olympic gold medalists and World Champions in Mack Horton (400m) and Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri (1500m), and 7 time winner Sam Sheppard.

He made the Australian team for the 2019 World champs and now has his sights set on making the Olympics.

His thoughts on swimming, with some training tips and a suggested training session are below.

How did you get into swimming, and what made you try open water swimming?

I have been swimming since I can remember. My parents took me straight into the pool at home and straight into lessons as early as possible. If we were going to live in Australia, you need to know how to swim. The same goes for surf lifesaving. My parents wanted my brother, my sister and myself to be able to read the surf and stay safe out in the ocean. I guess just through my experiences with surf lifesaving and swimming, I decided to give open water a crack and went to the ocean swims that get held on some weekends and entered Brisbane Open water and Qld Open water championship. I have been doing open water ever since then. I loved it.

What would you say is your best event?

My best event would have to be 5km or 10km open water races. I don’t mind the shorter distances, so I do enjoy the 5km, but the 10km is the main event in all open water events (World Cups, World Championships and Olympics).

What is your favourite swimming workout/main set?

My favourite main session would have to be recovery. I love it. Who doesn’t love an easier session when you’re tired and sore. But I do enjoy sprint sessions even though I am a long distance swimmer.

What made you swim the Pier to Pub?

I have always known about the Pier to Pub, even from a young age. I trained with the Grimseys’ for a while and I know Codie won the race in 2012.  In 2018 a surf carnival was being held down in Fairhaven and the Pier to Pub was the same weekend, so my dad and I decided to head down for the weekend and give both races a crack.

What is your favourite Pier to Pub memory and why?

My favourite Pier to Pub memory would have to be winning the Open title in 2018. I went down there hoping to win the junior race in the morning and ended up doing that. So I was happy with the weekend and whatever happened after that was a bonus. I remember before the race I said I wanted to get at least top 5 and hopefully a podium depending on how the race panned out and how I felt. But coming in with the 2 Olympic champions was something I never thought would happen. Just swimming side by side with Mack and Gregorio coming in to the finish is something I will never forget and will stick with me as one of my fondest memories.

What is your most memorable swimming (&/or sporting) achievement and why?

One of my favourite memories was back in 2018 as well, I went to National Open water and raced the 7.5km to qualify for the Junior World Championships. It was the first time I had ever worn a race suit, and Speedo provided a great one. Another of my favourite memories is qualifying for my first Open Australian Team in 2019 and gaining enough points to qualify for the World Championship team. Getting my swimmer number and going away with the team is one of my most memorable swimming achievements.

How has your training been going? And what are your goals for the coming summer & year ahead?

It’s been an interesting year to say the least. When we first went into lockdown and I couldn’t swim any more, I ended up just doing whatever I could to stay fit and enjoying life a bit. Heading to the beach a bit more and finding things to do. I have National Open water at the start of 2021, so that is the main race to train for and hopefully that goes well and we will see how the rest of the year plays out with the CoronaVirus Pandemic that is sweeping the world.

What are your top training recommendations for a beginner trying the virtual Pier to Pub for the first time this year?

For a beginner swimmer trying to complete the Pier to Pub, I would suggest doing some sessions prior to the 1.2km Virtual Pier to Pub. Try and build up your endurance and do some sessions that are a little bit further than the 1.2km Pier to Pub. I would say the equivalent of 1.2km in the ocean is probably around 1.5km in the pool. If you can work your way up to that distance, you will be perfectly fine to enjoy your Virtual Pier to Pub race.

Tell us something interesting about yourself (e.g. other than ocean swimming, what do you enjoy doing for fun?)

Something that not alot of people know about me, is that I actually have a twin brother. Also in my spare time, I love to go camping and head out to whoop whoop and have a good time away.

Thanks Hayden – what sort of training session would you suggest for a Pier to Pub beginner?

Swim Program #1 (Pier to Pub Beginner) 

Aim for around 2km to make sure you can cover the 1.2km distance in the ocean.  You can vary the set distance to suit the goal of your race.

If you are just wanting to finish the race, you can add more easy swimming in the main set and focus on stroke length and efficiency.  If you are wanting to swim the race for position and a ‘PB’, you can add more hard repeats in the main set. (1 easy, 2 hard etc.)

For a beginner swimmer, you can make the main set smaller. ie. reduce the 12×100’s down to 8×100’s etc. 


200 Swim (Focus on stroke and length)
100 Drills (You decide the drill you want to do e.g. Head up, for sighting; One arm to work on length)
2x50m explode with a sprint the first 20m
100 Easy 

Main Set:

12x100m, do as 1 Easy, 1 Hard
4×50, so as 1 Hard, 1 Easy 

Cool Down:

200m Easy relaxed swimming to lower your heart rate. Work on stroke length and efficiency.