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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finishing Can Be Cruel...But Enlightening

Outside Kyoto, there is a 46,000-kilometer undertaking where selected Japanese monks must walk, meditation and pray in the Kaihōgyō ritual for 1,000 days.

Their road to enlightenment and process of self-denial requires requires incredible stamina and discipline over a seven-year period.

The ritual is mind-bogglingly difficult with extraordinary expectations of endurance.

In Year 1, they walk/run 30-40K per day up and down the difficult trails in Mount Hiei above Kyoto for 100 days of the year.
In Year 2, they walk/run 30-40K per day along the same course for 100 days of the year.
In Year 3, they walk/run 30-40K per day along the same course for 100 days of the year.
In Year 4, they walk/run 30-40K per day along the same course for 200 days of the year.
In Year 5, they walk/run 30-40K per day along the same course for 200 days of the year.
In Year 6, they walk/run 60K per day along the same course for 100 days of the year.
In Year 7, they walk/run 84K per day for 100 days, followed by 30-40K per day for 100 days of the year.

During the fifth year, their ritual is temporarily put on hold for them to go for 9 days (216 straight hours) without food, water or sleep of any kind. The monk sits in the temple and prays constantly with two monks on either side to ensure he does not fall asleep. At 2 am every night, the monk must get up and walk 200 meters to offer sacrificial water from a well.

According to medical theory, these men should be dead in this daring, daunting ordeal at extreme asceticism. But they face their physical limitations and desires with a serenity, courage and commitment that only 46 men have accomplished since the 16th century.

What is inspirational about this ritual is that during their nine days of non-sleep, non-eating and non-drinking, they must walk 200 meters to the well every morning. On the first night, the 200-meter walk is done in a matter of a few minutes. By the ninth day, the same 200-meter walk takes an agonizing hour due to the physical toll on the human body. And, then on the very last moment before the ritual is completed, the monk walks to his first meal and drink in 9 days...but they must first kneel in front of the food and water and pray.

The amount of self-discipline and courage to sit in front of food and water and first pray after 9 days in a principled, quiet and scripted manner is an unbelievable culmination to this ritual.

In an aquatic analogy of the culmination of the Tendai monk's 9-day ordeal, Stephen Redmond battled with the Molokai Channel for nearly 22 hours 30 minutes. Then, he faced the finish of his swim - against the volcanic rock cliffs at China Walls on Oahu. Like the monks of Tendai, his culmination of his Oceans Seven challenge required a principled, quiet, scripted effort.

He explains, "Skipper Ivan Shigaki directed me to swim with the tide towards a point around [Hanauma Bay] two miles away. I followed the boat all the way to China Walls where a large group of people who had been following the swim had gathered to see the finish included my wife Ann and the Hawaii channel swimmer Linda Kaiser." China Walls is a well-known surf point where experienced surfers caress down waves that crash spectacularly against a sheer rock cropping. Even those in good shape and with plenty of energy must time their exit out of the water with precise timing and skill. How Stephen did the same 8 days after his Cook Strait swim and after more than 22 hours in the Molokai Channel was, frankly, monk-like.

The sheer mental discipline of facing this rock wall in such a depleted physical state was a testament to Stephen's strength and force of will - and his knowledge that an unsuccessful finish would invalidate his efforts. He was not going disappoint himself or everyone else who had been supporting him along the way.

"I approached the wall and asked, 'How was I to finish the swim?' I was told I needed to come right up out the water on the [rock] ledge. I attempted this three times without success. Finally, I got it right with my complete body out of the water for the finish. I asked if was this OK [in front of] 20 witnesses and swam back to the boat."

While Stephen was intent of completing the swim by "clearing the water", the rule in the (English) Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation dictates that a finish can be where there is "no seawater beyond" according to 34-time English Channel swimmer and Hall of Famer Kevin Murphy. He quotes the English Channel rules, "For a swim to be officially recognised, the swimmer must enter into the sea from the shore of departure, swim across the English Channel (i) to finish on dry land, or (ii) to touch steep cliffs of the opposite coast with no sea-water beyond. Swimmers may finish in harbour water provided they land as in (i)."

In other words, Stephen could have finished by simply touching the rocks at China Walls if he had been swimming under English Channel rules of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation. Kevin explains, "If I'm observing, I always emphasise that if a swimmer can't walk on to dry land, they can touch a rock or cliff where there is no 'no seawater beyond'." That would have counted with Stephen's finish at China Walls, which was well beyond the traditional finish at Sandy Beach or Hanauma Bay.

"Common sense prevails. If a sea wall is a structure which sticks out from the land, there is seawater beyond so that's not the finish. If it is a wall which is at the point where land finishes and water starts and there's no water beyond, then that's the finish."

Michael Read, President of the Channel Swimming Association, similarly explains the rule for English Channel swims to be officially recognised. "The swimmer must enter the sea from the shore of departure, swim across the English Channel and finish on dry land, or touch steep cliffs of the opposite coast with no sea water beyond. Swimmers may also finish in harbour water provided they finish on dry land or touch steep cliffs with no sea water beyond. If you come to a rock face or the wall at Samphire Hoe, touching it is sufficient and all we ask."

Kevin talks about his own experience...and that of the originator of channel swimming, Captain Matthew Webb. "There is a picture of me after my first two-way [English] Channel swim, perched on a ledge half way up the sea-wall at The Lees, Folkestone. That was my choice. All I actually needed to do was touch the wall. As far as I know, all the pictures of Captain Webb finishing show him nearly waist high in water."

Like the Japanese monks in Mount Hiei facing a 9-day ritual (see below) or Stephen Redmond in the Molokai Channel who cleared the water at the end of his day-and-night long ordeal (see above approaching China Walls), it is always inspirational to observe another human whose clarity of purpose, serenity and, indeed, enlightenment at the end of their efforts results in a successful culmination.



Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

1 comment:

  1. I hope with Stephen's comprehensive end of swim report here and elsewhere, we can out the frankly disingenuous accusations, sorry ... questions, behind us, and celebrate Stephen's extraordinary achievement.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Agenda


Friday, 19 September

5:30

PM


Welcome Reception at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

Documentary films shown throughout the reception:

Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa – Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way
(film by Bruckner Chase)

Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain
(film by Wayne Ewing about Matthew Moseley's Lake Pontchartrain crossing)

Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska
(film by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko about the relay between Russia and Alaska)

The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau
(film about Simon Holiday's Pearl River Delta crossing)


Saturday, 20 September

9:00

AM


Registration and Coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

10:00

AM


Keynote Speech:
Colleen Blair (Scotland) on The History of Scottish Swimming

10:20

AM


Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport

10:30

AM


Colin Hill (England) on Recent Explosion in UK Open Water

10:50

AM


Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) on The Feminine Code of Achievement - How a Lady from Down Under Revolutionized Professional Marathon Swimming

11:10

AM


Simon Murie (England) on Open Water Swimming Holidays: How A New Sector Was Created Within The Travel Industry

11:30

AM


Swimming The Oceans Seven
A round table discussion moderated by:
Kevin Murphy (England), with Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden),
Darren Miller (USA), Adam Walker (England), Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand)

12:30

PM


Coffee and Break

1:00

PM


World Open Water Swimming Awards Luncheon:
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA)

Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year

Olga Kozydub (Russia), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year

Bering Strait Swim, 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year

Honoring: Vladimir Chegorin, Maria Chizhova, Elena Guseva, Ram Barkai, Jack Bright, Oksana Veklich, Aleksandr Jakovlevs, Matías Ola, Henri Kaarma, Toomas Haggi, Nuala Moore, Anne Marie Ward, Toks Viviers, Melissa O’Reilly, Ryan Stramrood, Cristian Vergara, Craig Lenning, Rafal Ziobro, Andrew Chin, Jackie Cobell, James Pittar, Paolo Chiarino, Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen, Ivan Papulshenko, Zdenek Tlamicha, Zhou Hanming, Oleg Adamov, Andrei Agarkov, Alekseev Semen, Tatiana Alexandrova, Roman Belan, Elena Semenova, Alexander Brylin, Afanasii Diackovskii, Vladimir Nefatov, Evgenii Dokuchaev, Oleg Docuckaev, Roman Efimov, Dmitrii Filitovich, Olga Filitovich, Victor Godlevskiy, Olga Golubeva, Alexei Golubkin, Alexander Golubkin, Alexandr Iurkov, Oleg Ivanov, Pavel Kabakov, Eduard Khodakovskiy, Aleksandr Komarov, Aleksandr Kuliapin, Andrey Kuzmin, Irina Lamkina, Vladimir Litvinov, Andrey Mikhalev, Victor Moskvin, Nikolay Petshak, Sergey Popov, Vladimir Poshivailov, Grigorii Prokopchuk, Dmitrii Zalka, Natalia Seraya, Viacheslav Shaposhnikov, Olga Sokolova, Andrei Sychev, Alexei Tabakov, and Nataliia Usachaeva [represented by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko and Nuala Moore]


2:30

PM


Alexey Salmin Pavlovich (Russia) and Dmitry Dragozhilov (Russia)
on the 2016 Winter Swimming World Championships [film]

2:50

PM


Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers

3:10

PM


Dmitry Blokhin (Russia) and Aleksei Veller (Russia)
on the First World Ice Swimming Championships [film]

3:30

PM


Matthew Moseley (USA)’s Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain [film]

3:50

PM


Simon Holliday (England) and Doug Woodring (Hong Kong)’s The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau 2014 [film]

5:00

PM


International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF)

IMSHOF Induction Ceremonies and Dinner
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA).

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Elizabeth Fry (USA), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • James Anderson (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Dr. Jane Katz (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Indonesian Swimming Federation Open Water Committee (Indonesia), IMSHOF Honour Organisation

  • Melissa Cunningham (Australia), Irving Davids – Captain Roger Wheeler Award by the International Swimming Hall of Fame and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Sandra Bucha (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Jon Erikson (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer [represented by Sandra Bucha]

6:30

PM


International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Introduction Video.
Welcome speech by host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)

6:45

PM


Dinner

7:30

PM


International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
Induction Ceremonies and Dinner with host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Mercedes Gleitze (England)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by daughter Doloranda Pember]

  • Dale Petranech (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Contributer and IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Claudio Plit (Argentina)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Shelley Taylor-Smith]

  • Judith van Berkel-de Nijs (Netherlands)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Niek Kloots]

  • George Young (Canada)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation]

  • David Yudovin (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer


Sunday, 21 September

9:00

AM


Registration and coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

10:00

AM


Nuala Moore (Ireland) on The Mindset of 1000m at 0ºC

10:20

AM


Admiral Konstantin Sidenko (Russia)’s Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska in 2013 [film]

10:40

AM


Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World

11:00

AM


Bruckner Chase (USA)’s Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa
Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way
[film]

11:20

AM


Rok Kerin (Slovenia) on Lifestyle Benefits From Open Water Swimming

12:00

PM


Survey distribution and group photo-taking

2:00

PM


Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute






CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."


Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Swim Across the English Channel...

OWSM-CM

Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?

Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!

Open Water Swimming Magazine


Open Water Swimming Magazine

The 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...
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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.
LEARN MORE...

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An 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:
https://www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/preview-open-water-swimming-almanac


The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.

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