Two-Sport Star Or Cross-Over Athlete?

Two-Sport Star Or Cross-Over Athlete?

Swimming World Magazine described Olympic open water swimmer Chloe Sutton in a very positive light after she won the USA Swimming national 800-meter freestyle championship.

The transformation of Mission Viejo’s Chloe Sutton into a legitimate two-sport star in the U.S. is complete. Not only did she qualify to represent the U.S. in the open water 10K earlier this summer, she claimed the top spot in the women’s 800 free to prove that she’s for real in the pool as well.”

The description of Chloe as a two-sport star was interesting.

The Daily News of Open Water Swimming has always referred to swimmers like Chloe – who compete in both the pool and open water – as crossover athletes. At the Olympics, Chloe face numerous swimmers who represented their countries in Beijing in both the pool and open water, including 2 of the 3 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim female medalists.

The implication of ‘two-sport’ is that pool swimming and open water swimming are two completely different sports. Conversely, the implication of ‘cross-over’ is that pool swimming and open water swimming are related with similarities.

With over 50 years of influential reporting in the world of aquatics, Swimming World Magazine has a corporate sense of history and perspective that The Daily News of Open Water Swimming does not possess, so its description of Chloe was enlightening.

Are pool swimming and open water swimming two different sports? The reasons would include the obvious (different rules, different venues, different training, different racing strategies, different histories) and the subtle (different mentalities, different outlooks).

Are pool swimming and open water swimming closely related? The reasons would like the obvious (training in the pool, hydration needs, muscular development, equipment) and the subtle (similar outlooks and groups of friends).

Open water is said to be as close to swimming as water polo is to sprint freestyle in the pool. The only physical contact in pool swimming is hitting the lane line, your turns and perhaps bumping into a teammate doing circle pattern, but there is no directly-applied defense or aggressive physical altercations like in open water.

A ‘sport’ can be defined as a physical contest where one team/player can directly apply defense to the other team/player. According to this definition, pool swimming is more of an athletic competition vs. a sport. But as any elite open water swimmer knows or anyone who has done a triathlon or mass open water start, open water swimming can be defined as a sport with skill requirements ranging from navigation, sighting and positioning to pacing, drafting and feeding.

Perhaps the open water media will have to re-think its terminology in order to properly describe athletes like Olympians Chloe Sutton, Keri-Anne Payne, Cassie Patten, Poliana Okimoto and many other athletes of all ages and abilities, male and female alike, who compete in both the pool and open water?

Jen Schumacher of the Extreme Adventure Challenge raised the analogy of swimming vs. running. “Whether or not pool and open water swimming are two completely different sports or two related activities within one all-encompassing sport, I suppose another question is, ‘How do we compare track vs. cross-country vs. marathon running?’ I equate those disciplines to pool swimming and open water swimming and channel swimming. I suppose all three fall under the sport of ‘running,’ or ‘swimming’ respectively. Are athletes who compete in both track and the marathon considered to be two-sport athletes?”

Copyright © 2010 by Open Water Source