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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spatial Awareness In The Open Water

Spatial awareness is a critical talent that can be developed by an open water swimmer and triathlete. If an athlete is not gifted with innate spatial awareness, then they must work on it to improve.

For an open water swimmer and triathlete, what is spatial awareness? Spatial awareness is the ability of an athlete in the open water to understand distances, times and dynamic forces in the water as it relates to their progress or movement.

For example, talented athletes like Thomas Lurz, Trent Grimsey and Petar Stoychev not only know the distance from their current position to the next turn buoy within a remarkably accuracy, but also how long it will take them to get there. Their mind automatically calculates the distance, time and dynamic forces (e.g., currents, tides, waves, turbulence) that it will take them to cover any particular distance in a swim. For example, experienced swimmers like Matty Moore, Hank Wise and Ky Hurst know precisely how fast or how slow to swim in order to catch a wave coming into an onshore finish. As they swim towards shore, they look back at the oncoming waves and position themselves perfectly to catch the wave into shore.

For example, skilled athletes like Larisa Ilchenko, Martina Grimaldi and Ana Marcela Cunha know – and feel – the optimal position to place themselves behind a pack or at the hips of another swimmer, and then the amount of time they have to hit the accelerator and sprint to victory.

For example, swimmers like Keri-Anne Payne and Ashley Twichell can literally close their eyes and swim straight in nearly any body of water. The propulsion generated from their left side of their body and their right side of their body are nearly the same. Their balance helps them achieve a high level of spatial awareness that is directly transferable to an ability to minimize distance traveled over the course, and the drafting distance behind a lead swimmer. But if you are not born with the inherent trait of spatial awareness, there are ways you can build up your capabilities.

1. Develop spatial awareness of distance on land.
Go to any body of water and observe your surroundings. Look at the end of a pier or the length of a jetty. Estimate its distance. Look at the distance between lifeguard stands or the number of meters between any two given fixed points. Write them down. Then confirm what the distances are by asking the lifeguards or going online to check on Google maps or Google Earth. Then go back and look at those points again. In your mind, if the length of the pier is 450 meters, then mentally measure that distance when you see something of a similar distance. If the distance between lifeguard stands is 250 yards, then take a mental picture of that distance and utilize it during your races.

2. Develop spatial awareness of distance on land.
After repeatedly testing yourself and learning more about spatial distance on land, try doing the same in the water. The length of the pier or jetty will look differently when viewed from land versus when viewed from the water’s surface. But take similar snapshots in your mind of these distances and utilize it when you are swimming in the oceans.

3. Body surf.
If you live near a coast where there are waves to body surf, swim straight out from shore and try to catch waves as you swim in. This is much more difficult than developing spatial awareness between two fixed points or while you are stationary.

In this case, not only are you swimming towards shore, but the wave is also moving at a different rate to the shore. This is like trying to hit a target as you also move. And it will take plenty of practice. Over and over again to get down so body surfing becomes another tool in your quiver of open water swimming assets.

4. Swim at night with escorts or swim buddies.
There is almost nothing like swimming in the dark or at night. Now spatial awareness becomes an absolute necessity. It is not easy, but take it slow and have a specific plan (e.g., swim to the end of the pier and back, swim no more than 20 meters outside the surf zone, swim to the lights across the lake or along the shore). But before you head out at night, make sure you and your escort have glow sticks and your escort has a whistle.

5. Swim backstroke in the open water.
Do this drill will a friend who can swim alongside or behind you for a certain amount of time or number of strokes. You do not have to swim far, but try swimming backstroke. You may fear nervous, but you will feel the necessity of swimming straight. Your stroke will be purposefully balanced and you may swim cautiously. But this simple drill will immediately impress upon you the importance of swimming straight and balanced with a specific spatial awareness.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

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

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."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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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.

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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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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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