Open Water Swimmers Can Reach Their Own Mt. Everest

Open Water Swimmers Can Reach Their Own Mt. Everest

While mankind has been swimming purposefully in oceans, seas, lakes and rivers for over three milennia from the South Pacific to the western shores of Africa, the beginning of the modern age of open water swimming is acknowledged by some when Lord Byron swam across the Hellespont in 1810.

Nearly two centuries after Lord Byron’s exploit across the strait between Asia and Europe, open water swimming is now an established sport in the Olympics and has earned worldwide popularity with over 4,000 events in at least 94 countries. The sport is currently exploding since its inclusion in the 2008 Beijing Olympics – and its forecasted growth shows no sign of slowing between the 2012 London Olympics in Hyde Park and at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Copacabana Beach.

It is a scenic, outdoor sport that challenges one’s physiological and psychological abilities. As long as local race organizers understand and offer adequate safety protocols and procedures are in place, and the athletes are sufficiently trained and prepared, the inherent risks of open water swimming can be properly managed for swimmers of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.

Athletes with physical and intellectual disabilities meet society’s challenges head on every day, but when an individual swims from point A to point B in a scenic outdoor setting, that achievement is especially heartwarming and inspirational, not only to the athlete himself, but also to his circle of friends, family and the larger society.

In essence, “climbing Mount Everest” can be accomplished in the open water, shattering all forms of preconceived notions of one’s self-imposed limitations or society’s prejudices that are aimed at individuals with intellectual disabilities.

The great opportunity for Special Olympics athletes to reach their own Mount Everest was the reason why Special Olympics International added open water swimming to its quadrennial World Summer Games – and why this vision to provide open water swimming opportunities to those with intellectual disabilities continues.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source