DNOWS Header

Image Map

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Most Viewed Open Water Swimmer In History

Who is the most viewed open water swimmer in history?

She was a former age-group swimmer with a good swimming stroke, excellent navigational sighting technique, a great body position who knows how to run into the ocean and start swimming quickly. But her name is not as well-known among the contemporary swimming community as it is in the movie industry.

In the summer of 1975, Susan Backlinie appeared on the promotional poster and as Chrissie Watkins, an ocean swimmer in the iconic scene in the movie Jaws. 67 million Americans saw the film during the summer of 1975 and hundreds of millions of film-goers have seen her since.

Backlinie, working under the direction of Steven Spielberg, worked hard to create the initial death scene.

The scene of the shark attack was shot several times over the course of 3 days. After many takes, miscues, and experiments, the final shot was produced when Spielberg did not tell the former age-group swimmer when she would be attacked. When the diver below her grabbed onto, and pulled her leg to pull her under, she gave an genuine scared, iconic reaction that remained in the final movie edit.

In order to simulate her body being moved left and right in the water, two 300-pound weights were attached to Backlinie and were being tugged by two groups of crewmen on shore. One group would pull right, and the other would pull left in order to create the scene.

Later, when she was recording the screams to be dubbed over the film, Spielberg had her tilt her head back and poured water down her throat while she screamed.

In the movie when the remains of Chrissie were examined, the tissue damage indicates the non-frenzied feeding of a large squalus is described by oceanographer Matt Hooper. Squalus is Latin for shark. On the beach when Chrissie's remains are discovered, the prop arm that was originally used looked too fake in the scene so a female crew member was buried in the sand with only her arm exposed.

Backlinie's classic swim stroke and horrific death scene will live on in film history.

37 minutes into this documentary on the making of the film Jaws, Backlinie explains the creation of her iconic scene:

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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 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...

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 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.


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program