Before We Were Winners, We Were All Beginners

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Several well-known American Olympic champions (Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky) appear in a Colle+McVoy commercial for USA Swimming.

The voiceover is that of another 3-time Olympic gold medalist, Rowdy Gaines.

Quite accurately, the Ad of the Week as selected by AdWeek, ends in a simply profound statement, “Before we were winners, we were all beginners.”

This is true in the pool, but it is especially true in the open water that includes all the issues of competitive pool swimming (starts, turns, finishes, stroke technique, tactics, speed, strength and stamina development, psychology) in addition to the issues of competitive and solo open water swimming (drafting, surging, impeding and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, positioning, feeding, currents, tidal flows, waves, winds, night swimming, skin ointment, boat positioning, and dealing with marine life from sharks to jellyfish).

But there are also other related issues such as disqualifications in pool races and DNF’s in the open water, plateauing with no improvement of your best times in the pool and swimming in turbulent water or oncoming tides, waking up for early morning pool practices and walking into cold bodies of open water, and mentally dealing with unreasonable expectations of a pool coach standing on deck and a lack of understanding of a crew on the deck of an escort boat.

As the USA Swimming advertisement alludes in the award-winning video, career accomplishments always start with the first stroke. It is also universally true in the open water.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones