If Pool Swimming Is Physics, Open Water Is Biology

If Pool Swimming Is Physics, Open Water Is Biology

The world of physics involves the study of matter to understand how the universe behaves, is ruled by laws, measures and formulas.

Although physicists continue to explore fields covering the minute to the gigantic from Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics, the rules of physics are clear and absolute.


Conversely, the world of biology, a natural science concerned with the study of life, can have many exceptions and differences. Evolution, the albino, and the splitting of an egg to create identical twins are just a hint of the myriad variances found in living organisms.

In physics, you know what to expect, but in biology you can be surprised. So too with pool and open water swimming.

In the pool, you know what to expect and in the open water, you know to expect the unexpected.

In a 400m freestyle in the pool, the race is 8 lengths with 7 flip turns and a defined start and finish. You swim straight over a black line between parallel lane lines in a temperature-regulated, chemically-balanced stable environment. Pool swimming is clean and well-defined like physics.

Conversely, in an open water swim, you can run into jellyfish, waves, winds and currents … or not. You will not swim only 5,000m in an open water 5 km, but you are not exactly sure how much – or even what the water temperature or wind direction will be. Turns can be 45°, 90° or 180°, done clockwise or counterclockwise, or in a large pack or solo. Open water swimming is often unpredictable and dynamic like biology.

So are you a physicist or biologist – or a physicist-turned-biologist – or vice versa? Do you like the controlled, confined world of physics and stability of the chlorinated concrete world of pool swimming? Or do you enjoy the unpredictability and the unexpected of the open water world?

Do you like to wake up and conduct your affairs in a specific order according to a regular timeline where uniformity is consistent? Or do you enjoy life not knowing exactly what will happen or when where flexibility is required? Do you enjoy swimming in a controlled modification of Mother Nature or swimming in her whimsical self?

What kind of swimming you do prefer: pool or open water?

Controlled or dynamic? Established or evolving? Defined or Darwinian? Within or outside your comfort zone?

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source