De Rigueur In the 20th versus 21st Century

De Rigueur In the 20th versus 21st Century

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

A swimsuit, a pair of goggles, some friends, some tea or water, and an escort boat. This is what marathon swimmers used in the previous centuries.

They walked in, swam across, walked out the other side. It all seemed so simple in the 20th century.

Now contemporary swimmers utilize high-tech jammers, compression wear during travel, GPS, kayakers, pace swimmers, scientifically formulated gel packs, near real-time updates via a social media campaign with Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, digital cameras and smart phones, a coach, a nutritionist and a navigator, MSF-approved observers, a charity component combined with online fundraising platform, Shark Shields, and a Shark Team.

Training used to comprise to long hours swimming back and forth in a pool augmented by some workouts in nearby open water venues. A few (snail-mail) letters to other swimmers or pilots helped them envision what was ahead.

Now contemporary swimmers can participate in week-long camps and weekend clinics as well as attend expos and seminars hosted by veteran swimmers, listen to motivational speakers, read books by experienced swimmers, watch what others have done on YouTube or Vimeo, communicate with a global community via email, WhatsApp, text and Facebook messages, track and observe actual swim courses online by other swimmers, eat scientifically formulated foods and hydrate fluids specifically made for endurance athletes, and train with all kinds of hand paddles, pull buoys, fins and snorkels while video-taped and analyzed by aquatic technicians.

Planning for swims used to comprise of looking at maps, marine charts and encyclopedias.

Now contemporary swimmers can study Google Earth and delve down to the details of a swim, learning both real-time and historical data about wind and water conditions, directions of currents and eddies, and types of marine life with clicks of a mouse from any computer or smart phone in the world.

De rigueur has become more rigorous, enabling swimmers to explore different places around the globe with ease and specificity.

But the swimming part is still the same.

Photo shows Chloë McCardel in the Open Water Swimming Magazine.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association