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Friday, April 5, 2013

Lance Armstrong And Second Acts In The Open Water

Athletes of every generation have demonstrated the ability to create worldwide controversy and revved up the raging emotions of sporting fans.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave a Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Mike Tyson bit off the ear of Evander Holyfield in a boxing match. O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in the murder of his former wife and her friend. Lance Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs and intimidated individuals who questioned the legality of his actions.

These athletes - and others like them - have set off the media and ignited the nerve of the general public for various reasons, from making political statements to fixing games for betting purposes. But life inevitably goes on and these athletes - like non-athletes everywhere - continue on with their lives. And so it is with Lance Armstrong who entered a U.S. Masters Swimming-sanctioned pool event. After FINA strongly came out against his participation, U.S. Masters Swimming barred from participating in its sanctioned event (see here).

The marathon swimming community (see here) and others in the U.S. Masters Swimming pool swimming community (see here) have largely welcomed Armstrong being barred from competition. While this issue raging on in online forums, pool decks and coffee shops, Armstrong's desire to swim in an amateur adult pool swimming event raised a few thoughts related to open water swimming.

In the aquatic world, in fact in the entire endurance sporting world, is there any sport or any aquatic activity that enables second acts, second comings, or second chances in life like open water swimming? We think not. Here are our reasons for thinking so.

From the perspective of competitive swimmers:
Competitive age-group swimmers, not to mention high school and collegiate swimmers, train hard 6 days per week, spending up to 2 hours in the morning before school and another 2+ hours after school swimming. Lap after lap, month after month, year after year. After all those thousands of hours spent with their head down swimming back and forth in a chlorinated pool, their aquatic careers are often dictated by seconds and tenths of seconds. Swim a best time and they are happy. Miss a qualification time and the season ends in disappointment. Many of these swimmers eventually burn out and quit the sport. They move on, sometimes to do other sports, but also many just stop exercising at least for a while.

But they are also individuals who enjoy challenges and have the discipline to achieve other goals in life. Many of these individuals eventually make their way back to swimming and they find participation in open water swims are a perfect blend of low-stress competition and a fitness motivator while they can enjoy the outdoors and the camaraderie of others.

So for retired competitive swimmers who are drawn back to the water, open water swimming presents an ideal opportunity for a second chance at athletic competition.

From the perspective of long distance freestyle swimmers:
The world of pool swimming is extremely competitive. In the United States, there are more than 300,000 competitive swimmers, but fewer than 50 of them make the Olympic team. In the United States, there are over 280,000 students who swim on their high school team, but fewer than 1,000 of those students eventually receive a college scholarship for swimming. The chances of making an Olympic team or receiving a college scholarship are even (dramatically) lower for a distance swimmer since there are fewer distance swimming events (500y, 1650y, 800m, 1500m) than the shorter-distance events at every level.

While many swimmers do not train and compete with the Olympics or a college scholarship as their primary goals, these finely-trained athletes are well-positioned to swim further and in tougher conditions in the open water than their sprinting colleagues. Many of these individuals find that they are very well-suited to just getting out in the open water and letting it rip for a mile, two miles, three miles and more. No flip turns, no dive starts, no counting of laps or worry about split times. They can just swim and swim and swim in the dynamic environment of the world's oceans, lakes and river.

So for long distance freestyle swimmers, who have developed the strength and stamina in the pool but without Olympic speed, open water swimming presents an ideal opportunity for a second chance at athletic competition.

From the perspective of women who pre-dated the Title IX legislation in the United States:
Decades ago, American women who are now in the 50's, 60's and 70's did not have the same opportunities for collegiate competition as young women in contemporary times. The Title IX legislation opened the door for many young women who enjoy the challenge, thrill and camaraderie of athletic competitions.

But when the demographics of open water swimming are analyzed, the number of women over 50 years old are seen flocking to the sport. They enjoy the camaraderie and competition of sport as well as the opportunity to challenge themselves outdoors with the presence of others as themselves.

So for women in the second half of their lives, open water swimming presents an ideal opportunity for a second chance at athletic competition.

From the perspective of individuals who learned how to swim as adults:
The sport of triathlons is booming. It is absolutely exploding like marathon running did in the 1970's. This fact and the fact that an aging population is finding the aches and pains of high-stress endurance sports like running is no longer an option are reasons why many adults are now turning to swimming.

Many adults who learn to swim in the latter stages of their life are usually not looking to do a butterfly race or practicing track starts off of a diving block. Individual medley, aerobic threshold sets, and shaving down for meets are not in their fitness plans. They just want to learn how to swim efficiently. They usually want to learn how to feel fluid and swim efficiently in the water.

It is these individuals who become competent and confident enough in themselves who are looking for a competition. But they prefer not to stand alone on a diving block at a swim meet. Rather they enjoy participation in a mass start where they can blend into the crowd and enjoy an achievement with many others. For many of these individuals, they did not compete competitively in sports as teenagers, but they enjoy participating in a stress-free celebration of open water swimming.

So for these adult-onset swimmers, open water swimming presents an ideal opportunity for a chance at athletic participation in the second half of their life.

Open water swimming for various reasons and for many individuals presents a comeback of sorts. Swims in oceans, lakes and rivers offers a unique low-stress, fun-filled, camaraderie-driven, self-satisfying means to triumph against nature, rally from years of relentlessly tough pool workouts, recover from years of poor health, or enjoy a resurgence from prior athletic participation. It revives the soul and strengthens the body, especially refreshing for those who wish for and looking at a second act, second coming, or second chance.

* Lance Armstrong has been banned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, and is ineligible for any World Anti-Doping Agency member or affiliated competition including those events sanctioned by U.S. Masters Swimming and the American Swimming Association.

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.

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

Swim Across the English Channel...

OWSM-CM

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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


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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