Aquatic Awareness - Open Water Swimmers Have It

Aquatic Awareness – Open Water Swimmers Have It

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Just as swimmers do not swim aimlessly in the open water, many experienced swimmers do not swim mindlessly in the open water.

There is a thought process to their swimming. They become aware, alive, alert and attentive.

They venture out past the shoreline and their minds turn on in a profoundly different way than their dryland athletic colleagues.

Depth of the water is not an issue, but the movement of the water is. They understand and can feel the dynamic nature of their aquatic surroundings. When the ocean swells increase, they adjust their stroke to take advantage of the water flow. When the surface turbulence increases, they adjust their breathing pattern to not swallow water.

Their tactile feel is precise; they not only know the difference between water temperatures of 15°C and 17°C, but they also know the difference between a tidal pull and a current flow.

They see a fin and know the difference between a shark and a dolphin. They hear a sound and they know the difference between a whale and a Jetski.

They know how to bodysurf and how to railroad. They can time their swimming pace to match the swimming speed of people of various abilities and they can swim point-to-point as well as know how to swim off-tangent to take advantage of swells and waves.

They breathe to the left and breathe to the right with equal proficiency. They sight while incorporating their head lift seamlessly into their natural swim stroke. They can draft off a swimmer in a pack or in the dark.

They love bioluminescence and rocky coastlines. They love the tranquility of an early morning lake swim and the beauty of a sunset while swimming offshore. They love the smell of a beach barbeque and know the distinct smell of lanolin.

They know precisely where they chafe and many can swim without chafing at all. If their goggles fog, they squint their eyes just so and allow just the precise amount of water to seep in and clear up the goggle foginess.

They smile before they get in the water and remaining smiling after they get out, planning their next swim with a sense of anticipation that is palpable.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones