The Ecosystem Of Open Water Swimming

The Ecosystem Of Open Water Swimming

What is open water swimming?

It can be hard to describe it comprehensively.

Depending on your preferred niche, you could describe open water swimming in any number of ways and based on a wide variety of types of swims.

These include solo swims, relays, stage swims or stage relays, circumnavigations, charity swims, sanctioned age-group races, competitive swim series, cold-water swims, ice swimming (or winter swimming or extreme swimming), Polar Bear swims (or plunges), mass participation events, eco-swims, Paralympics events, Special Olympics events, marathon swims, channel swimming, expedition swims, open water orienteering, lifeguard competitions, masters races, pro races (either FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup circuit, FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit or independent races), criterion racing, swim-run or run-swim or swim-run-swim races, wetsuit swims, Olympic 10K Marathon Swim or triathlon swim legs.

Even relays have their own special sub-system of channel relays (traditional six-person and other configurations), competitive relays, charity relays, eco-relays, stage relays, freestyle relays, team pursuit or team time trials and distance relays.

These swims can be conducted in oceans, lakes, rivers, lidos, canals, channels, rowing basins, around or between islands, lochs, bays, estuaries, fjords, inlets, seas, creeks, firths, sounds, straits, streams, tributaries, harbors (or harbours), lagoons, narrows, aqueducts, coves, anchorages, gulfs, basins, deltas, bayous or lazy river pools and can be called long distance swimming, marathon swimming, roughwater (or rough water) swimming, ocean swimming, extreme swimming or open water swimming.

In an age of specialization, each distance has its own enthusiasts, equipment, logistics requirements, costs, training methodologies, venues and racing strategies. And for each age-group, each niche may be viewed differently.

So while some swimmers state, “That is not open water swimming“, it is often the case that swimmers are referring to a different niche than they are accustomed to.

The swims can be done with traditional swimsuits, technical swimsuits, wetsuits or fins and can be accompanied by kayakers, paddlers, stand-up paddlers, canoes, outrigger canoes, skiffs, catamarans, dinghys, JetSkis, surf skis, IRBs (inflatable rubber rafts), sailboats or motorized boats or all shapes and sizes.

Open water swims can be as short as 100 meters or as long 88K for competitive races and thousands of miles in the case of stage swims or relays. The swims can last for only a few minutes or for many days or weeks for stage events.

The sport is limited only by the swimmer’s and organizer’s creativity and are generally reported by Global Positioning Systems (GPS) tracking systems, email, text messages (SMS or MMS), tweets, blogs and photo- and video-sharing websites over a multitude of online social networks.

It is a big world of open water swimming out there.

Enjoy it. Embrace it. Experience it.

Photo of 3 Seas in 3 Days in Israel.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones