Csaba Gercsak is a two-time Olympian marathon swimmer who combined his Olympic achievements and his passion for open water swimming into one colorful tattoo on his back.
Dolphins, whales, manta rays and sharks. Waves and sea shells and turtles. Black and white and in full color.
Cathy Delneo, a survivor of a shark encounter (while she was surfing) is a mild-mannered librarian on land and an adventurous swimmer in the water – with a giant wave imagery on her back.
She completed one 16 hour 29 minute Farallon Islands relay from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands, with her tattoo proudly identifying her en route.
From Boston to Brazil, Germany to Geneva, Sydney to Sweden, open water swimmers have marine animal-themed or ocean-specific tattoos adorning various parts of their bodies.
Many swimmers have such a profound and intimate connection with the water that they want to visually share their connection with others.
Bruckner Chase (shown on left) received the “Best in Fest” prize for his Samoan-themed shoulder-sleeve tattoo at the 7th Annual Tisa’s Tattoo Fest. Tufuga Wilson Fitiau did Bruckner’s tattoo.A familiar figure in the water world, marathon swimmer Bruckner Chase (left) took the “Best in Fest” prize for the shoulder-sleeve tattoo Sunday as the 7th Annual Tisa’s Tattoo Fest TM came to a close this year. Tufuga Wilson Fitiau did Bruckner’s tattoo.
“With the designs no matter where I swim, I feel like I am in Samoan waters.”
Crystal Kemp grew up in Long Beach, California and has never lived further than a half-mile from the Pacific Ocean. “I started with my brittle star which symbolizes guidance, vigilance and intuition. From there I added my underwater scene which reflects my love of snorkeling and swimming.”
John Daprato celebrated the Boston Light Swim with a tattoo.
“The tattoo is the original Boston Light Swim logo with variation in the colors, shape and lettering — also the swimmer has a more focused facial expression.”
Glauco Rangel has a large swordfish covering his left shoulder and much of his back.
Chad Ho celebrates his Olympic 10K participation with the standard five Olympic rings.
Sebastian Fischer (right) said, “I have a mermaid tattooed on my left arm. I have always loved swimming and being in the water.
I have always loved women, so I decided to combine those two things for a tattoo on my arm.“
Chase added, “The tattoos on my back are of my wife Michelle and my past, present and future in the ocean.”
Chase has faced swarms of jellyfish that have stung him unmercifully. “I swam through schools of jellyfish so thick it was like swimming in the exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
They were right in my face too.”
Multiple world 5 km and 10 km champion and Olympic marathon swimming gold medal co-favorite Thomas Lurz explains his tattoo, “I have the date from my father’s birthday on my left arm. I got it after his death.
The tattoo [on the other arm] we did 12 years ago on our swim team for the German team championships and it means ‘Together we can do it’ or ‘We are strong together’.
For example, my brother has the same tattoo on the same place because he also was on the team at this time as a swimmer. Now he is my coach, so it still fits good together.
We were a good young team then.” And now.
Some Manhattan Island Marathon Swim tattoos from its previous participants, Rob Kent and Mauro Giaconia of Italy. Along with Kent’s MIM’s tattoo, he additionally has ink of his Ironman, Boston Marathon, Marathon des Sables, and Lake Ontario accomplishments.
Jen King says, “My tattoos have water in them because I’ve grown up near the water and it has made a huge impact on my life to be a swimmer, and it will always be a part of me.”
King explains, “On my back is a lotus flower with water around it. The lotus symbolizes overcoming obstacles and growing. With the water around it means that I have the power to control the outcome of any obstacle and growth.
Lexie Kelly, the Event Coordinator for the Global Open Water Swimming Conference on the Queen Mary, describes her tattoo, “I got this done on the north shore of Kauai [Hawaii].
To me, it signifies how important it is to focus on the small and simple and beautiful things in life. There is nothing more amazing than nature itself and the ocean – plumerias and seashells – happens to be something I am very passionate about since I have a strong love for swimming.
What better way to appreciate simplicity than spending time in the ocean.”
The Poseidon trident is celebrated by the tattoo of Olympian and 2010 world 25K champion Alex Meyer of the USA is simple, yet profound. The trident is associated with Poseidon, the god of the sea in Greek mythology, and its Roman god equivalent Neptune. Poseidon, the god of the sea, used his trident to create water sources in Greece and was known as the Earth Shaker because when he struck the earth he caused earthquakes and he used the trident to create tidal waves, tsunamis and sea storms.
Dave Dunton, Managing General Partner of Try Cyclery, has two tattoos. “One is a seal lion that celebrates Seal Beach (California) and how much I enjoy living, working and swimming here.
The other tattoo is a dolphin that I had put on after a bull dolphin wouldn’t let me swim into the Bay where I found out later there was a Great White Shark waiting.”
Shannon Cutting (right), a triathlete and an open water swimmer, wanted a unique tattoo and her friend created it for her in his apartment.
Todd Cameron of Orlando, Florida started off with one hammerhead shark.
And then he got a few more.
In celebration of the induction of the Faros Maratón Swim into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Janez Maroević got a tattoo on his calf.
So pleased with the recognization as an Honour Organisation, that Maroević headed off the Queen Mary ship and into town to make his own custom design.
And the most inked Oceans Seven competitor, Darren Miller of Pennsylvania, wears his tattoos with pride as he traverses the globe in search of the hardest, longest, most challenging marathon swims on the planet.
Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association