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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Punched By Poseidon, Nixed By Neptune

The open water is a magical place. Lakes can be tranquil, oceans can be alluring, channels can be inviting.

But, from the perspective of a single swimmer, the open water can also become suddenly turbulent and immediately troubling. Flip on a switch and channels turn to a lumpy mess that is impossible to cross for swimmers that can only traverse the water's surface at no more than 3 miles per hour...at best.

Weather, temperature, marine life, winds, tides and currents are the obstacles that must be just right for a successful swim. Not too warm, not too cold. Not too strong, not too plentiful...but just right.

Years of training, loads of money, a fearlessly positive mind, months of promotion, and teams of experts are the tools that marathon swimmers use to prepare for their swims.

But Mother Nature always has the upper hand. When she so desires, mankind just is not getting across, through or over to the other side. Slapped down, beaten up, thrashed about: swimmers have experienced this never-ending battle with oceans, seas, lakes and channel since well before Matthew Webb's time.

With two recent marathon swims of note, Stephen Redmond's aborted attempt across the Tsugaru Channel yesterday and Paul Lundgren's 24-hour shot at the Sea of Cortez last week, Mother Nature clearly showed she was in charge. Swimmers do not conquer channels; more likely, Mother Nature showers down an ephemeral sense of maternal benevolence temporarily allowing a lucky few to get across.

Redmond and Lundgren, similar to legions of open water swimmers before them, are courageous, audacious and tenacious. Redmond and Lundgren are hardened men guided by expert escort teams, supported with loads of technical equipment and reams of meteorological data. They have the Right Stuff and they have what it takes. But they both ran smack into angry seas on their marathon attempts.

And others will too.

But the nature of the sport is that open water swimmers will grease back up, adjust their goggles and return again for another bout with Mother Nature, hoping for the best and preparing for the worse.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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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.

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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.

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