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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Steven Spielberg's Legacy - Don't Go In The Water

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Steven Spielberg is on top of his profession and is, without a doubt, one of the most popular, successful and influential directors in film history. Creating, writing, directing and producing blockbuster after blockbuster, his career has spanned more than four decades as he has generated over US$8.5 billion in box office revenues.

In 1975, the 28-year-old Spielberg overcame budget over-runs and finished the film Jaws.

It was an enormous worldwide hit that won three Academy Awards and generated more than US$470 million in revenue. Jaws not only made Spielberg a household name and a young multi-millionaire, the film was also later selected by the American Library of Congress for preservation for being deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

But the thriller also immediately and effectively drove millions of people away from the world's oceans.

Its tagline - Don't go in the water - was taken to heart by an entire generation.

For those who saw Jaws in the 1970s, there was no greater incentive to fear sharks and stay away from the ocean. Jaws effectively served as the greatest phenomenon in world history that kept men and women of all ages out of the open water, not only oceans, but also lakes, bays and rivers.

Jaws effectively paralyzed an entire generation from ever feeling comfortable about entering the open water.

The fear Jaws created was profound and primal - and for many who saw the film, it was the only reason why they never returned to the ocean to swim.

Spielberg's film also drove many ocean swimmers to use shark cages on their long solo swims in the 1970s and stamped on the public psyche the image of sharks as vicious man-eaters.

Ironically, the actress who was killed in the opening scene, Susan Backlinie [shown above and on left], was a competitive swimmer who was comfortable in the ocean.

While ocean swimmers gradually did away from their shark cages, the overwhelming perception of sharks as man-eaters for those who remember Jaws in the summer of 1975 may never be overcome.

But Spielberg's effect in keeping people out of the open water is gradually being offset by the popularity of triathlons, surfing and marine sports like open water swimming as well as the availability of wetsuits and the knowledge of many in contemporary society that sharks are much more the hunted than the hunter.

As the worldwide shark populations continue to be reduced by overkilling, the number of people in the open water continues to increase due the growing craving for adventure and an individual desire to challenge oneself.

At some point, perhaps in the not-too-distant future, the fear of sharks due to a movie released in 1975 will be no longer the catalyst to keep so many people on the shorelines.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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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.

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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.

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.

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