Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

If this article were written 500-1000 years ago, there would have been most likely have showcased people with ancient skills and talents capable for them to be ready for anything. We would write about heroic feats rather than competition and training.

What were the feats of strength and endurance practiced by people hundreds or thousands of years ago?

There were no gyms or fitness clubs, but rather nature and lakes and heavy things to carry or lift. There were no 25 km races or pools to compete in, but rather respect for efficient endurance, skillful coordination, and flat-out speed. Athleticism was practiced outdoors and for living or capturing or making food or for warfare or self-preservation.

Men, women and children were expected to be able to run, carry, climb, throw, ride, jump, sprint and/or swim their way to live, escape, stay alive and prosper while showing courage, flexibility, resilience and selflessness and be able to navigate rough terrain, hills, mountains, rocks, sand, logs, currents, waves and turbulence whether a farmer, fisherman, soldier, craftsman, sailor or merchant.

When we think of contemporary open water swimmers who demonstrate all kinds of athletic skills, we think of athletes like Ned Denison and Adam Walker.

As well as Tom Burgess, a water polo player, waterman and Olympic open water swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku, a 5-time Olympic medalist, water polo player, surfer and lifesaver, and Johnny Weissmuller, a 6-time Olympic swimmer, water polo player and waterman.

And Tomi Stefanovski of Macedonia, Toshio Tominaga of Japan, and Mickey Helps of Great Britain, all water polo players and swimmers like Jim Boucher, Niko Nestor, Bill Ireland, Joseph Locke, John Chung, Doug Woodring, Tracy Grilli, Samantha Sears, Klaus Barth, Ellery McGowan, Clark Bird, Owen Hughes, Ciaran Farrelly, Tadhg Murphy, Aindriu McGuigan, Ronan Flood, George Dunne, John Reagan, Vicko Šoljan, Eilís Burns, John Mix, Tim Fitzpatrick, Jay Peluso, Dave Holscher, Kerby Lewis, Matt Judge, Emre Erdogan, Bill Leach, Kevin Joyce, Mark Bayliss, Ryan McDonald, Nick Sullivan, Melissa Karjala, Kathleen Le, Nick Burton, Ryan Ballance, Vicky Miller, Finbarr Hedderman, Dave Scott, Miquel Sunyer, Éva Risztov, and Ricardo Ratto.

Denison is hosting tonight’s International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. His skills – including organizational and oratorical – will be showcased tonight in Windsor, UK.

Copyright © 2008-2017 by World Open Water Swimming Association