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Saturday, March 31, 2012
Become An Octopus When Meeting A Black Swan
A Black Swan event, an unexpected occurrence, was first postulated by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his 2004 book Fooled By Randomness event.
When unexpected events occur in the open water – such as getting stung by a jellyfish, feeling a shoulder ache, having an upset stomach in the ocean swells – one can react like as an octopus or the other creatures on the planet that can immediately adapt to the emergency situation at hand.
When experienced open water swimmers are faced with unexpected situations, they rarely panic, but immediately assess the elements and their condition while supercharging their adaptability into overdrive. For the open water, as the non-human life-forms instinctively know, is fraught with unpredictability and unexpectedness, usually at the most inopportune times.
But humans in the water simply do not have marine life's innate instinctiveness that comes with millions of years of evolution. While an octopus can swim over a coral reef and change colors to blend into its environment or squirt out ink as a diversionary tactic, humans do not have these physical characteristics. In the unexpected occurrences that happen in rivers, lakes and oceans, there is literally nowhere for the human swimmer to hide - except up on an escort boat. Swimmers are fully exposed and simply humbled by Mother Nature and its other inhabitants.
Homo sapiens should use their minds and ability to observe, learn, assess, plan and implement their countermeasures and strategies when it comes to unexpected competition and risky elements in the open water. Swimmers and their coaches, pilots, parents, partners, race organizers, officials, volunteers, safety personnel and support crew must consider 'what-if' responses and 'how-to' alternatives to the perfect swim they hope for. When things go awry in the open water, safety and prudence demands careful thought and prior planning.
Before you get in the water, before you begin your race, before you set off on your solo swim or relay, consider 'what-if' scenarios and 'how-to' reactions vis-à-vis hypothermia and hyperthermia, tides and currents, waves and turbulence, jellyfish and sharks, seaweed and sea nettles, pollution and boat exhaust. In other words, think before you swim; observe before you start; plan before you get in.
Each swimmer and their coach must first learn and understand the risks and uncertainties of their body of water before coming up with a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C. Ask yourself: what are the various forms of inherent marine life in this body of water? What if you get seasick? What if you get stung or kicked? What it the winds come up or you hit a piece of flotsam? What if there is plenty of boat exhaust or you run into a pollution spill?
As assessments and contingencies are made through experience, observation and discussions with experienced swimmers, lifeguards, coaches, pilots, doctors and paddlers, both the swimmer and coach can prepare for a Black Swan like an Octopus.
Footnote: Learning From the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorism, Natural Disasters, and Disease, a new book by Rafe Sagarin, a researcher at the University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment, will be released in April 2012.
Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
The Other Shore
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.
This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.
But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.
In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...
Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.