Be An Outlier In The Open Water

Be An Outlier In The Open Water

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The swim is too dangerous. He doesn’t know what he is doing. Safety is not a priority.

Those allegations are repeatedly thrown about in the open water swimming world…since the 19th century if not earlier.

Swimming from England to France used to be unthinkable.

Swimming in Antarctica used to be unfathomable.

Swimming an ice mile used to be inconceivable.

But people did it. Not just one unusual outlier. But many people crossed channels and did cold water swims. Over time, the outliers started to become closer to the norm.

Humans have been running and performing for millennia on land. Yet over thousands of years, mankind continues to improve their capabilities on terra firma. Not only is mankind gradually unleashing their potential on a physiological basis, but also on a psychological basis.

But there will always be many – or most – people who are cautious and unwilling to believe that mankind can continue to push themselves to greater depths, lengths and degrees. These people believe mankind has reach their athletic limits. These people do not think mankind will continue to improve and make the inconceivable achievable.

Fortunately, sports depends not on the cautious, but on the outliers.

People like Matthew Webb, Lynne Cox, Lewis Pugh, Penny Dean, Ous Mellouli, Thomas Lurz, Maarten van der Weijden, and Natalie du Toit are those outliers who shine a light on the future. These heroic figures in the open water swimming world tell us – through their actions – that the timid and cautious are dead wrong about human potential.

Swimmers like Elizabeth Fry, Sally Minty-Gravett, Bob West, Dr Allsopp, Henri Kaarma, Ram Barkai demonstrate to us that the outliers are dead right about human capabilities.

For every statement that “It can’t be done” or “It is too dangerous“, there is another Bering Strait Swim or another David Yudovin.

For every coach who believes open water swimming is harmful to their pool swimmers, there is another group of Olympians like Andrew Gemmell, Keri-Anne Payne, Eva Risztov and Ous Mellouli who simply just continue getting faster.

Mankind has only been doing serious open water swimming for a few hundreds of years, we have many future generations to show us all what we are truly capable of.

Ten years from now, 50 years from now, 100 years from now, 500 years from now what open water swimmers will be doing will undoubtedly surprise us all…except for those visionary outliers.

Sit back and relax…or sit back and imagine what you can do in the open water 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 25 years from now. You will not be surprised.

Be an outlier.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association