On August 9th, Keri-Anne Payne and 24 other Olympians will race 6 loops around the Serpentine. The next day, Thomas Lurz, Spyros Gianniotis and Ous Mellouli will race each other and 22 other men to stand on the Olympic podium.

These two 10 km races will be broadcast to a global television audience. In many countries, the races will be simultaneously available for online viewing. Millions of people around the world will be exposed to the wonders, magic, allure, challenge and mystique of open water swimming.

Upon viewing the Olympians swim fast for 2 hours, passionately competing for 10 kilometers, some will ask why?

Others will ask why not?

Some will think it is a crazy sport. Too hard, too long, too outlandish.

Others will ask if not me, then who? If not now, when? If not here, where?

After the global broadcast on television and online, the Olympians and the spectacle of the 2-hour swim will inspire many. The sport will grow exponentially. Undoubtedly, ubiquitously and unquestionably.

There will be more athletes, more events, more sponsors, more race series, more media exposure and more countries involved. Races like the Midmar Mile at 18,000 participants or the Great Swim series at over 20,000 participants will no longer be the exceptions. A vast majority of these races will be conducted outside the jurisdiction of the traditional governing bodies of pool swimming, simply because the sport is growing faster than the actions and decisions of the pool-oriented federations and associations. Races will be live streamed and the number of people online sharing stories, experiences, plans and dreams will continue to explode. The winning Olympians and elite athletes will be recruited and feted by large mass participation events, and prize money in non-FINA events will continue to increase.

As more and more people attempt 1 km swims or just swim in oceans and lakes for fitness or fun, the market will grow to over 10,000 open water events worldwide. Swimmers who become members of the Half Century Club, Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, International Ice Swimming Association, and the Oceans Seven will increase and become beacons of inspiration. Solo swims and relays will become even more adventurous, longer and more difficult as swimmers seek new venues and new challenges.

The upward trajectory of the sport will continue to increase beyond the Serpentine on August 9th and 10th. It will continue to build steam as the Brazilians welcome the world to its 2016 Rio Olympics. Hundreds of thousands of people will crowd the shoreline of Copacabana Beach where the 2016 Olympic 10km Marathon Swim will be held. The unbridled enthusiasm of the Brazilian hosts will be infectious and provide yet another global boost of the sport.

London will be outstanding. It will be a seminal event with worldwide impact, but it is only a beginning.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source