The Yin-Yang Of Open Water Swimmers

The Yin-Yang Of Open Water Swimmers

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

How do they do it?

How do open water swimmers balance the clearly contrary extremes in their daily lives?

In Chinese philosophy, yin (陰) and yang (陽) describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and inter- dependent. After observing people doing extraordinary swims, the yin-yang seems to be embodied in the lives of open water swimmers.

Open water swimmers do so many clearly courageous or mind-boggling challenges whether it is an ice swim, a channel swim, or even a tough workout in windy and chilly conditions. Then they get dressed, go home and head to work.

At one end of their lifestyle spectrum, swimmers are modern-day explorers and contemporary adventurers in the open water. They plan, dream, train and struggle to achieve something great, something unusual, something difficult.

Yet, they return in their own mild-mannered ways to an office or cubicle in an air-conditioned building. Instead of fighting currents and swimming with marine life, they are riding elevators and heating food in microwave ovens. On one hand in the open water, they are using glow sticks and looking ahead through foggy goggles where success is unknown and certainly not a guarantee. On the other hand on dry land, electricity, warmth and physical comfort are simply assumed and expected.

These aquatic explorers balance so much adventure and uncertainty in their athletic lives while continuing along their daily lives earning money in a white collar setting in contemporary society. The part of their lives spent tapping on a keyboard in a climate-controlled environment is so vastly different and so far removed from the adventure of going beyond the shoreline and facing Mother Nature head-on in the open water.

These opposite forces in the lives of open water swimmers seem to work well. While armed with swimwear on one hand, they are equally adept at achieving success dressed in business attire and formal wear.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association