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Saturday, March 8, 2014
Open Water Swimmers Who Dream Big
Their achievements remind us of the words of Harvard University president Drew Faust who wrote, “The study of the humanities enables students to imagine, adapt, assess, interpret, change and create.” She explained that the “interpretation, judgment and discernment are cultivated and refined by the humanities. Students learn how to think critically and communicate their ideas clearly, and those transferrable skills lead to rewarding lives and careers in every field of endeavor.”
Another Harvard President Charles Eliot noted in 1869 that “an observant, reflecting, and sensible man, whose mind is not only well stored, but well trained also to see, compare, reason, and decide.”
Their writings remind us of similar observations seen among open water swimmers.
Many open water swimmers demonstrate boldness in doing and thinking, especially when these swimmers attempt unprecedented swims in lakes, rivers, seas and oceans. Their solitary and relay efforts help lead to new expressions of human endurance and more comprehensive understandings of human’s physical potential and the marine environment.
Swimmers who cross channels, circumnavigate islands, and traverse lakes for the first time face dynamic circumstances that requirement a balance between athletic dreams and physical resilience. During the planning stages, they weight myriad possibilities, think of different solutions, and make assumptions of their swimming speed and acclimatization to the conditions.
They discuss possibilities and contingencies with escort crews, pilots, coaches, other swimmers, fishermen, boaters, meteorologists, windsurfers, oceanographers, marine biologists and other specialists.
Among the innumerable swims that have yet to be completed, there are many massively difficult swims whose success will require the ultimate of athletic performance, favorable water and weather conditions, flawless navigation, and a minimal presence of marine life.
One example is the swimming the 72 miles across the Kaieiewaho Channel between the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kauai. First attempted by American Jonathan Ezer, an early Molokai Channel swimmer in the 1970s, it was also attempted twice by Australian Penny Palfrey in 2010.
Not only is the distance (115.8 km) a monumental challenge, but traversing the rough waters of the 10,890-foot (3,319 m)-deep channel in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is daunting. Swimmers will have to face the damaging effects of salinity inherent in the Pacific Ocean over the estimated 35 to 50 hour swim. Besides the tropical sun of the day, swimmers face the dusk-emerging presence of stinging creatures (box jellyfish and Portuguese man o war) and ever-scary lurking of apex predators (tiger and great white sharks).
Swimmers attempting the Kaieiewaho Channel face at least one full night of swimming and possibility two nights – both possibilities (probabilities) to encounter extraordinarily venomous creatures. The massive movement of water in the channel, both below and on the surface, will dictate that the swimmer will face tens of thousands of arm strokes through undetermined turbulence and tides with most likely lateral currents running counter to their desired course.
But just as swimmers of yesteryear had not dreamed or completed a double crossing of Lake Tahoe or Lake Memphremagog, or circumnavigations of Catalina Island, or traverses from the Farallon Islands, or Ice Miles completed in the Southern Ocean, there will be someone who ultimately solves this Kaieiewaho Channel puzzle.
They will need luck and skill, physical prowess and mental toughness, expert navigation and good luck in regards to the weather, water, winds and marine life. But it will be done. If not this year, then next year. If not in this generation, then the next one. For swimmers can see, dream, plan, and do.
Photos show Penny Palfrey in the Kaieiewaho Channel.
Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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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.