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Friday, March 8, 2013

Ten Big Ideas For Open Water Swimming

Occasionally, it is fun to just think outside the box and imagine what could be - in terms of products, services and capabilities - in the world of open water swimming if there were no shortage of resources and time. Some new ideas would benefit competitive swimmers and triathletes; some new ideas would benefit newbies and veterans.

Open Water Source imagined 10 ideas that may change the world of open water swimming over the next 50 years. The technology and new products will not come right away, but they will soon enough.

Idea #1: Intelligent goggles with navigational tools overlaid on Google maps
One of the key talents of experienced open water swimmers is to be able to navigate well in the dynamic conditions of the open water. Swimming straight and understanding where you are going and at what pace you are swimming is the information that coaches and escort crews are responsible for.

But imagine if your goggles functioned as intelligent contact lenses? Before you swim, your course is wirelessly uploaded to your intelligent goggles. As you swam, your current course is visually represented on your goggle lens over the optimal course so you can not only specifically navigate as you wish, but the information on your visual virtual window also presents your pace per kilometer.

Idea #2: Timing transponders have GPS capabilities
Currently, many open water swimming events incorporate timing chips or transponders to officially time a swimmer. Based on the time, the swimmer is given their placing within the race, distance, gender and age group. The timing chips are simply used to measure time.

But what if the transponders had GPS capabilities and the device was able to track the exact course and pace of the swimmer per kilometer?

Idea #3: Wrist watches with intelligent water temperature gauges
Wrist watches are waterproof and worn by many open water swimmers who wish to take their time on training swims or races. And swimmers are often curious about the water temperature, often depending on public sources of information or a water thermometer on a pier, boat or marine buoy.

But what if wrist watches had a memory chip that constantly measured water temperature? Then that information is uploaded to a website that is overlaid with the Google maps. Then the course map can be color coded from red (warm water) to blue (cold water) throughout the entire swim. Each course may have warmer spots and cooler spots, and often swimmers remember precisely where those spots were.

Idea #4: POW comes to Disney World
POW or Pool Open Water are events that replicate open water swims in a pool. The lane lines are removed from a pool as 4 turn buoys are placed in the corners. Athletes swim around the perimeter as training or competition. But what if a POW event were held in a large resort like Disney World where thousands of spectators could see the world’s best open water swimmers race around the water parks in a televised special? With announcers like Rowdy Gaines of the USA, Pieter Pieter van Hoogenboard of the Netherlands, and Vladimir Salnikov of Russia, the made-for-TV special could draw an international audience – and be followed by a pro-am race with celebrity entertainers.

Idea #5: A mind memory data base for channel swimmers
Athletes, including channel swimmers, say that the mind is the most important element of enhanced performance. 80% mental and 20% physical. What goes through an athlete’s mind can range from fear to self-confidence, from questioning of their goals to temptations of quitting. Athletes talk to themselves, say mantras, sing repetitively, pray and think about their family, friends and other people in their lives. Sometimes, they zone out and go blank. Sometimes, they intensively think about their pains or their pace; their techniques or their tactics; their hunger or their hydration.

But if their thoughts are able to be captured and archived for the swimmer’s recollection later? And what if those thoughts were cataloged and data mined so the athletes themselves could analyze their thoughts? Or coaches could understand what percentage of their thoughts were positive in nature (e.g., feeling good, strong, and fast), negative in nature (e.g., feeling pain, regret, or disappointment), neutral (e.g., zoning out), or specific in some way (e.g., singing, praying or thinking about projects, work or family responsibilities). And what if this information could be analyzed on a global scale so psychologists could understand the differences in thought between men and women, young and old, newbies and veterans?

Idea #6: Swim caps with magnetic and sonar capabilities
Swim caps are often required by different races and worn by many people. But they also tend to fall off at the most inopportune times and are completely indistinguishable when the entire field wears the same colored cap.

But what if open water swim caps are magnetically attracted to human hair or the hair follicles of those with shaven or bald heads? The swim caps would no longer start sliding off stroke-by-stroke.

Additionally if the magnetic forces on the swim cap are able to power a sonar sensor within the cap, then an identification system could be tied to each individual. So if you are swimming in the 45th position in heat 2 of a mass participation swim, your family, friends, coach and race announcer would know where you are in the midst of the field, but also your current placing.

Idea #7: The next aquatic event added to the Olympics is an ice swim
The Olympic 10K Marathon Swim has been successfully held before tens of thousands of fans at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. The 2016 Rio Olympics will undoubtedly take open water swimming to a whole new level, held off the shores of Copacabana Beach.

But with the growth of extreme swimming, like the addition of extreme sports like snowboarding and BMX cycling at the Olympics, it makes logical sense for an ice kilometer swim to be added to the Winter Olympics. Downhill skiing, mogul skiing, luge, ski jumping…these are examples of Winter Olympic sports that present visually present risk to an international sporting audience. Snow, mountains, speed and elements of danger are what are exciting to see.

Similarly, extreme swimmers walking down to the start through snow-laden shorelines to a start in a frozen lake, wearing only porous swim briefs, would capture the attention of Olympic fans. Contested in high-altitude lakes in proximity to the Olympic Village, the final heat of 25 male ice swimmers and the final heat of 25 female ice swimmers would most definitely cause significant buzz while inspiring additional generations of newbie extreme swimmers. Commentators would talk about the decrease in core body temperature, the afterdrop and how these hardened athletes have acclimated themselves to the greatest extreme possible.

Idea #8: Knowledge of open water swimming becomes second nature to swimming coaches
Swimming coaches around the world are knowledgeable about butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle as well as nutrition, dryland training, starts, turns and basic physiology. There are over 20,000 dedicated pool swimming coaches in the world. But the number of dedicated and knowledgeable open water swimming coaches around the world number in the dozens.

What if knowledge of open water swimming – from tactics and techniques to safety and equipment – became as second nature to these pool coaches as butterfly is? How many more athletes would be introduced to the sport of open water swimming? How much safer could events become? How much faster would athletes swim as they matured if they incorporated open water training during youth development?

Idea #9: Marine Wi-Fi fabrics
First there were wool swimsuits. Then swimsuits were made from tighter-fitting, faster drying nylon, Latex and a variety of synthetic materials.

But what if Speedo created a swimsuit that incorporated fibers filled with nano-capacitors that can send and receive signals and be tied into a fiber-optic network? Then swimmers could immediately upload their workouts, update Facebook, send emails, and post photos on Instagram no matter where they are. Real-time communications could even be implemented on beaches and boats around the world.

Idea #10: Solar powered water vessels
Motorized boats and surf skis are used during all kinds of open water swims, from short local swims to long channel swims. Not only are fossil fuels used, but also the exhaust from the water craft is irritating to many swimmers and triathletes.

But what if the boating industry developed the requisite batteries and incorporated highly efficient solar panels to provide all the power necessary to drive boats and surf skis. Goodbye exhaust. Sayonara to limitations to how far boats could travel.

These radical ideas – and many other ideas like them including some more detailed and some more grandiose – will change the face, scope and ambiance of the sport of open water swimming over the next few generations.

Photo shows Benjamin Schulte, a 16-year-old from Guam who may see a few of these changes over the course of his career.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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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.


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

Swim Across the English Channel...


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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.

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 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 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:

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


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