Conrad Wennerberg's Informative Intangibles

Conrad Wennerberg’s Informative Intangibles

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Many open water swimmers have a bucket list of swims they want to do.

Their swims can be the English Channel or an ice mile. But their goals can also include doing the Waikiki Roughwater Swim under an hour or to cross a lake near their home.

The bucket list swims can range from doing one of the well-known channel crossings to completing an unprecedented swim across an unchartered body of water.

Either way, Conrad Wennerberg‘s authoritative book, Winds, Waves and Sunburn – A Brief History of Marathon Swimming, remains an outstanding work of historical information and individual inspiration.

Wennerberg was the Chairman Emeritus of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame who extensively documented professional marathon swimming, particularly between the 1950s and 1970s. He also played a key role in creating the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame due to his research and first-hand coverage of the most well-known competitions of that era.

With contributions tangible and intangible, Wennerberg played both a leading and supportive role in helping promote, document, establish and professionalize marathon swimming. His experience, insights and knowledge of the sport was also developed first-hand as he swam over 12,874 km (8,000 miles) while escorting and training with his athletes, including the well-known Ted Erikson and Dennis Matuch.

Winds, Waves and Sunburn, first published in 1974, includes the colorful history of swims in the English Channel and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with explanations of the mindset and physical obstacles overcome by some of the most accomplished marathon swimmers in history.

For someone getting into the sport or an athlete who is looking for inspiration whether pro or amateur, young or old, competitive or recreational, the book is a highly recommended must-read.

The 348-page paperback book is engaging, entertaining, factual and eye-opening with numerous black-and-white photographs. Wennerberg delves into the lives, the training and motivations of the greatest marathon swimmers up until the 1970s. The exploits of larger-than-life heroes such as Abdul Latif Abou-Heif, Judith van Berkel de Nijs, George Park, Greta Anderson, Cliff Lumsdon and Marilyn Bell are detailed with insights that only an insider could know. Races such as the 1964 Lake Ontario Swim, the English Channel swims of the 1950s, and the nearly unbelievable 60-mile Lake Michigan professional races are brought to life with observations on the physiology and psychology possessed by the best marathon swimmers of previous eras.

As athletes ponder what is possible in 2015 and beyond, Wind, Waves, and Sunburn is a wonderful addition to the library of any endurance athlete or coach.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones