To educate, entertain, and enthuse those who venture beyond the shore. Over 12,838 articles on solo swims, pro races, relays, charity events, eco-swims, stage swims, marathon swims, trends, products, services, personalities, coaches, governing bodies, rules, demographics, books, films, blogs, conferences, camps, clinics, exploits and happenings in oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, dams, canals, channels, fjords, estuaries, lochs, coves, firths, straits, bays, and harbors. Sponsored by WOWSA.org.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Private Thoughts On Swimming With Sharks
Is it nature or is it nurtured?
Why is it that I think of sharks when I am swimming in the ocean, far from shore? What brings them to mind? What causes the thought to suddenly pop into my head?
Alone with my thoughts with my head facing downwards, I occasionally ask myself, "What do I do if I see a shark? What do I do when I see it coming at me from the depths? What do I do if I suddenly see a huge set of wide open jaws just about to take a chomp out of me?"
After talking with shark divers and seeking the advice from those who have free dived among the most dangerous of the apex predators, I know what I am supposed to do in a shark encounter, but am I brave enough to do it? Would I have the gravitas to react properly? Or would I panic with a fin in the vicinity? Would I be able to face head-on a shark in the open ocean with a calm, composed demeanor? Or would I do exactly what you're not supposed to do if I were the object of a shark's desire?
I fear that fear would overwhelm me. Try as I might to convince myself that I am a warrior, a courageous soul capable to downplaying my fear, I fear that I would react worse than mere freezing up. It is highly probable that I would panic and thrash about, swimming away like a crazed madman. I know it is best to spread out my arms and legs and appear as big as possible while keeping an eye on the shark and maintaining a focused state of mind with relaxed heart rate. But I fear that measured reaction is inconsistent with my natural instincts.
I hear of many open water swimmers who would face the shark, punch the shark like Gary Hall Jr. did or swim calmly amid Great White Sharks like David Blaine did (shown below).
"You have to remain calm," explained Blaine. "Because they can sense your fear."
But that is most probably not me.
Is this reaction to sharks natural? Am I genetically wired to fear sharks when swimming in the open ocean, especially off the coast of California, Hawaii or Florida or South Africa or Australia when sharks are known to exist? Try as I might to replay a shark encounter in my head, and I come to the same sad realization that I am no Penny Palfrey. No way, no how could I view a massive Great White Shark swim below me and immediately think, "How majestic...how beautiful..." No way, no how do I keep swimming like Michael Spalding without a thought of getting out of the water. No way, no how does my heart rate not spike or my breath not be taken away unlike the brave composure of Hawaii's Triple Crowner Michael Miller. It goes without question that no way, no how do I remain in the water knowing that I share the environs with what is commonly described as the perfect predator.
Palfrey tells of her experience, "I could still see the bottom but cruising right below me was a Great White Shark. I looked, instinctively took my regular breath, then looked back again, yes it was a shark, yes it was a Great White Shark. It was majestic. I was in awe of this huge, graceful creature beneath."
She faced the shark with reverence and awe. I would swim next to a Great White Shark with fear and dread.
Are these thoughts and assumptions environmentally influenced? Is my fear generated because of photos and videos that I have seen? Are my reactions nurtured by movies and television shows? Did the viewing of shark movies scar my thought process for life? Does a decade of Shark Week programs influence my mindset as an open water swimmer? Does modern media dictate a life of fear of sharks when I know the chances of ever experiencing a shark encounter are nearly zero?
Which is true: genetic make-up that is instinctively fearful of sharks or an environmentally-generated fear of sharks due to popular media? Whichever it is, I think of sharks while swimming out in the ocean. These thoughts are not enough to stop me from venturing beyond the waves, far from shore, but they remain in my head just as surely as the tides flow.
A misplaced mindset? Perhaps.
Illogical imagination? Possibly.
If I encountered a shark when swimming alone, how would I react? If I encountered a shark when swimming with a group, how would others react? Would the men act manly...or would the women? Would the young panic...or be prepared? Would the veterans react heroically with confidence and composure...or not?
And keep swimming along.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
A Thank You Gift from WOWSA
|WOWSA is celebrating the|
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.
Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB
Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.
CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.
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.