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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Swimming And Scenery From Sea To Shining Sea

Courtesy of Patricia Hermann, marathon swimmer from Texas.

One of the benefits of traveling around the world to participate in open water swimming competitions is all the sights swimmers take in, both in the water and on dry land.

"Adding on a road trip to all of my races is a big part of why I enjoy these events so much," explains Patricia Hermann from Houston, Texas.

"Swimming is good for the body; travel is good for the soul."

With one's head looking down towards the depths and out over turbulence for turn buoys and shorelines, there is only so much a swimmer can take in from the water's surface. "The very nature of swimming has many uniquely solitary moments of self-reliance which in turn makes us natural travelers," says Hermann. "There is so much beauty, charm, and adventure all around. Travel allows us to experience everyday things as if for the first time."

When a swimmer regularly trains in familiar local waters and swimming pools, a certain complacency can overcome the swimmer's natural inclination to be on the edge. But when they venture to new open water venues, their navigational IQ and sense of adventure are called upon.

"Open water races and challenges take us out of the safe elements of the workout pools and the placid training in lakes into an unpredictable, yet exciting adventure. This is also a perfect training ground for the uncertainty of exploring new areas on foot. Just as each venture into the ocean is an addictive confidence builder, so is each time you seek out new and different places to explore on your own."

Many race destinations embrace the American 'sea-to-shining-sea' landscape. Whether it’s races like S.C.A.R. held deep in the canyon lakes of Arizona, The Alcatraz Challenge where the race itself is part of an iconic landmark, or the Swim Around Key West where you can explore Hemingway’s old haunts … we are already in the vicinity of some of the most stunning scenery and bucket list destinations. These races beg for add-on trips to surrounding areas.

The United states has 58 national parks and 6,624 state parks, vibrant cities brimming with museums and theater, coastal towns celebrating sun and surf, and endless small towns embracing everyday Americana. Wherever you have a race, there is a pre- or post-race adventure just waiting to happen."

Hermann made the following suggestions of swims and well-known travel destinations that are near:

* The Great Moose Migration in Idaho: easy road trip to Tetons and Yellowstone
* Change Your Latitude in Alaska: Totem Park, Alaska Raptor Center
* Swim Miami in Florida: Biscayne National Park, South Beach, and Ocean Drive
* Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in Maryland: Calvert Cliffs, Annapolis, and Smith Island
* Tampa Bay Marathon Swimin Florida: Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
* Highland Lakes Challenge in Texas: Barton Springs and The Oasis
* Catalina Channel: Channel Islands National Park
* Swim The Suck in Tennessee: Ruby Falls, Tennessee Aquarium
* Portland Bridge Swim: Scenic road trip to the Redwood Forest
* Virginia Beach Swim Series in Virginia: 3 hours north to explore Washington D.C.
* Valley Forge Marathon Swim in Pennsylvania: 30 minutes from Philadelphia
* Maui Channel Swim: Road to Hana

"The list could go on and on. It’s like Mark Twain said, 'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.'”

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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