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Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Duality Of Open Water Swimmers

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

On the weekends, open water swimmers do the unprecedented and the unusual: they swim against currents, face sharks, swim up and down massive ocean swells.

Yet on weekdays, they return to their cubicles, offices and desks like white-collar employees around the world. They are outwardly mild-mannered workers, medical personnel, safety officers and entrepreneurs interacting normally with their fellow co-workers. Nothing seems out of the ordinary on dryland. But internally, these swimmers have a burning desire and hardened spirit to face adventures and experience Mother Nature like 99.9% of humanity has never done or seen.

How do they do this? How do they handle the duality of their lifestyle? They function equally well as if they have two diametric parts of their personalities.

The adventurous, risk-taking, courageous part of their minds seek to do the seemingly impossible as they venture offshore in skimpy attire and goggles under unpredictable conditions. But the practical, dryland part of their personalities dictate that they must put on clothes, shed their goggles, make calls, write emails and earn a living in climate-controlled offices within the complete safety of their work cubicles.

In the water, they can be stung, bitten and swallowed up by waves. They can go hypothermic; they can go under. They willingly face the inherent risk of the open water, armed with only swim gear, their physical abilities and mental toughness. On land in contrast, they use escalators, elevators, and air-conditioned vehicles while utilizing all the mechanical conveniences of society.

Instead of Clark Kent coming out of a telephone booth like Superman, these open water swimmers remind us of Supermen and Wonder Women coming in from shore, putting on polo shirts, skirts and pants to go to work like the rest of humanity.

Photo shows Kim Chambers battling towering waves outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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