Swimming World Presents “A Voice for the Sport: Open Water Explosion”

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli/Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

A Voice for the Sport: Open Water Explosion

Commentary by Steven Munatones, Founder of the World Open Water Swimming Association and the Daily News of Open Water Swimming. 

It is hard to imagine the current explosion of activity and events in the global open water swimming community being greater. More and more open water swims are being organized on every continent.

The dynamic growth ranges from short shoreline swims for children to a 120-mile, seven-day stage swim down the Hudson River in New York that attracts dozens of Masters swimmers from several countries. While the Olympic 10K Marathon race is the most globally viewed open water event, there are another estimated 25,000-30,000 annually organized open water events around the world.

The number of races, the amount of athlete and event sponsorship, and television and livecasting coverage are increasing. The number of 10-kilometer marathon swims is now more than 650 worldwide, and unprecedented solo swims and relays are taking place all over the globe.

The professionalism of race directors—especially in Europe, the Caribbean and South America—is providing opportunities for both able and disabled swimmers to challenge themselves in rivers, lakes, bays, seas and oceans.

FINA sanctions two professional series: the FINA/HOSA Marathon Swim World Series (10-kilometer races) and the UltraMarathon Swim Series (32-57 kilometer races), but it has also added FINA Open Water Swim World Events for amateurs. However, the growth of the International Winter Swimming Association World Cup Series and the International Ice Swimming Association World Cup races is much more dramatic. Ice swimmers compete without wetsuits in water lower than 5 C (41 F) in pools carved out of a frozen river or lake, often with snow falling on their shoulders.

Swimmers are pioneering high-altitude swims from the Andes to Mount Everest that attract media attention for a focus on environmental issues. Others complete cross-border swims—between Jordan and Israel, the U.S. and Mexico, and Japan and Taiwan—that require a significant degree of Speedo diplomacy.

Unprecedented swims of unfathomable length include Ben Lecomte who is currently 1,642 miles east of Japan swimming daily across the Pacific Ocean with the aim to reach San Francisco by March 2019. Lewis Pugh swam along the length of the English Channel—350 miles along the southern coast of England—that resulted in the British government promising to protect 30 percent of its domestic waters by 2030.

Sarah Thomas swam 104.6 miles in Lake Champlain in 67 hours 16 minutes, while 66-year-old Nejib Belhedi swam 74.6 miles in 76 hours 30 minutes in Tunisia, while 67-year-old Khitindra Chandra Baishya swam 115 miles down the Kangha River in 61 hours 55 minutes in Bangladesh.

The sport will grow responsibly with a continued focus on safety and the welfare of its swimmers who are at the mercy of the elements and conditions. The experience of race directors is essential to think through and plan for every contingency.

The inaugural Open Water Summit held at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Nov. 10, will be a unique opportunity for interested swimmers, coaches, pilots, administrators, officials and organizers of the sport to discuss common issues and the growing number of opportunities.

To learn more about the open water explosion, check out the November 2018 issue of Swimming World Magazine, available now!  Swimming World subscribers can download this issue in the Swimming World Vault!

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[PHOTO BY ANDREA STACCIOLI/DEEPBLUEMEDIA/INSIDEFOTO]

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FEATURES

016 2018 OPEN WATER SWIMMERS OF THE YEAR
by Annie Grevers and David Rieder
Sharon van Rouwendaal, 25, of the Netherlands earned her third Swimming World Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year award (2014, 2016, 2018), while Hungary’s Kristof Rasovszky, 21, won his first Male SOY title only a year after making his open water swimming debut at last year’s World Championships.

020 THE SWIM
by Steven Munatones
Ben Lecomte is attempting to cross the Pacific Ocean from Japan to California, which would be the longest swim in history. However, the long-term value of The Swim will be the information and science that will be uncovered.

022 THE DUTCH CLOSER
by Steven Munatones
With a furious sprint to the finish, The Netherlands’ Ferry Weertman won this year’s RCP Tiburon Mile in San Francisco Bay. Only six seconds separated the top five finishers, including the fastest woman, the USA’s Ashley Twichell.

024 SWIMMING TO HELP FIGHT CANCER
by Joseph Salvatore Prezioso
This past summer’s Boston Harbor Open Water Swim was one of several swimming-related events sponsored by Swim Across America to raise money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment. Since its founding in June 1987, SAA has raised more than $75 million that has been donated to hospitals throughout the United States.

026 TWICE THE MAN
by David Rieder
Not many swimmers are able to do what Jordan Wilimovsky does—and that’s swim both the 1500 meter freestyle in the pool and the 10K Marathon race in open water…and be successful at both. In fact, in 2016 he became the first American ever to qualify in both pool and open water events at the same Olympics.

COACHING

010 LESSONS WITH THE LEGENDS: RAY BUSSARD
by Michael J. Stott

014 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON BIOMECHANICS AND MEDICINE IN SWIMMING
by Rod Havriluk
The XIIIth International Symposium on Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming (BMS) was held in Japan, Sept. 17-21, at the University of Tsukuba. There were presentations by delegates from 23 countries on a wide range of topics—from learning skills for drowning prevention to technique and training strategies for optimizing performance.

034 DO MULTI-SPORT ATHLETES MAKE BETTER SWIMMERS?
by Michael J. Stott
While there is no scientific certainty surrounding this question, there is considerable empirical evidence to support it.

037 SPECIAL SETS: JEFFCO 400 IM SETS
by Michael J. Stott

042 Q&A WITH COACH SCOTT TEETERS
by Michael J. Stott

043 HOW THEY TRAIN AARON BUCHANAN AND IRAN ALMEIDA
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

041 DRYSIDE TRAINING: STROKE AND DISTANCE STRENGTH SERIES— MID-DISTANCE FREESTYLE
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

038 GOLDMINDS: ANYONE CAN LEAD!
by Wayne Goldsmith
All it really takes to be a great leader on your team is a willingness and a desire to help your teammates be all they can be.

045 UP & COMERS: GRACE MONAHAN
by Taylor Brien

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT
013 BEYOND THE YARDS
019 THE OFFICIAL WORD
029 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE
046 GUTTER TALK
048 PARTING SHOT

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Author: Taylor Brien

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Taylor Brien is the Assistant Operations Manager and a staff writer at Swimming World. A native of Bettendorf, IA and a 2015 graduate of Illinois College, she has covered a variety of events since joining the SW team in 2015, including the NCAA Championships, World Championships, Olympic Trials, and 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

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