Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

When I first entered the International Surfing Museum and the Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, California, I always thought it would be great to create something similar for open water swimming,” thought Steven Munatones.

The museum showcases the history of the sport through videos, photos and all kinds of content. The site, close to the Surfers’ Hall of Fame offers an ongoing series of events and exhibits and showcases all kinds of products like surfboards and gear owned by famous surfers, watermen and waterwomen over the decades. Historical photos and old-time videos line the museum walls that trace the lineage of the sport from times long past to the contemporary world.”

The museum is collectively supported by its founder, donors, individual and lifetime members, and thousands of annual visitors.

Natalie Kotsch (1937 – 2014), a local real estate entrepreneur, was the founder. Her passion was clearly born from the heart when she moved from Canada to Hunting Beach. Not only did she never surf before she moved to Huntington Beach, but she also did not surf after her dream was realized in 1987.

The International Surfing Museum is near the Surfers’ Hall of Fame where hundreds of thousands of visitors annually walk over concrete slabs with the footprints and handprints of the world’s best surfers along Pacific Coast Highway next to the Huntington Beach Pier. Collectively, the Museum and Hall of Fame enable surfers and non-surfers alike to better understand and appreciate the sport, history and luminaries of surfing,” explains Munatones.

Similarly, I have long dreamed about an open water swimming museum that would enable swimmers and non-swimmers alike to learn more about ocean swimming, marathon swimming, channel swimming, stage swimming, relays, lake swimming, river swimming, circumnavigation swimming, expedition swimming, disabled swimming, competitive open water swimming, wild swimming, high-altitude swimming, eco-swimming, professional circuits, charity swimming, ice swimming, winter swimming, and adventure swimming as well as the trends, products, services, personalities, pilots, administrators, coaches, observers, kayakers, governing bodies, rules, demographics, books, films, blogs, conferences, camps, sea treks, swimcations, clinics and other happenings in oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, dams, canals, channels, fjords, estuaries, lochs, coves, firths, straits, bays, and harbors around the world – from Northern to Southern Hemisphere, from tropical waters to both of the polar regions.

The mission of this open water swimming museum would be to educate, entertain, and enthuse those who currently venture beyond the shore – and those who support them.

Exhibitions could cover famous races and crossing, and topics including escorting, feeding, positioning, drafting, training, rescues, hypothermia, hyperthermia and afterdrop. A library would house books, pamphlets, brochures, posters, manuals, observer reports and marine charts that have been published, printed and used over the generations.

With modern and future technologies, the museum can also offer the ability for a person to be able to look up and see through video or AI any open water venue in the world.

For example, most swimmers in the world have never been to or even know what the English Channel from the perspective of a swimmer on Shakespeare Beach or the pier at Aquatic Park in San Francisco Bay or Bondi Icebergs Pool in Sydney or what the 2008 Beijing Olympic 10K venue looked like – or what the aQuellé Midmar Mile in South Africa or the Sun Moon Lake International Swimming Carnival look like.

Technology and the support of swimmers around the world would allow museum visitors to create such an experience for its visitors.

Having photos of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honorees is great – but how much more enjoyable and educational would it be to see short videos of each honoree talking about their greatest or most difficult swims?

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