The Taste Of Long Distance Swimming

The Taste Of Long Distance Swimming

With Diana Nyad and Penny Palfrey planning separate 103-mile solo non-stop swims in the Straits of Florida, Paul Lundgren planning a 76-mile swim in the Sea of Cortez, at least 15 two-way lake and channel crossings around the world as well as a number of unannounced open water swims from the South Pacific to the Mediterranean Sea this summer, there are going to be a lot of swimmers having a taste of ultra-marathon swimming like never before.

Unlike pool swimming or shorter swims, the marathon swimmers in high-salinity waters face swollen tongues and gums as they spend hour after hour in the ocean.

They not only lose their sense of taste, but their tongue and inner parts of their mouth occasionally go numb or “burn” as they pass into the second day of their ultra-marathon swims. Even after they finish, they usually expect their taste buds and mouth to remain in shock for days afterwards.

Mouthwash is helpful for the first 24 hours and, in the case of Palfrey in the Caribbean Sea, ice cream can extremely soothing in the second 24 hours. While swimmers prepare for all kinds of contingencies and distances, and can expect muscular discomfort or back spasms, there is almost no way to prepare for the problems and burning sensation in their mouths.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones