We believe Mike Gustafson of SwimNetwork hit the nail on the head with his insightful commentary about open water swimming, at least the version he saw at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.

The sport needs commentary. The sport needs color. The sport needs explanation.

We need to explain to newcomers, the media and spectators about how athletes prepare for cold conditions, rough conditions, currents, tidal flow and hypothermia. We can best do this during the actual competition when the open water swimmers have the attention of people on the shoreline. We have plenty of time to get people excited about the sport through education and promotion.

Terms like feeding sticks, ear plugs, surges, hydration, yellow cards, transponders, impeding, lanolin, strokes per minute, double caps, gels, intermediate buoys, can, skimmers, pace line, aquatic peloton and unsportsmanlike conduct need explanation.

What do all these words mean? What are the rules? What are the tactics? What do the split times mean when the “laps” are 2,500 meters long?

We agree 100% with Mike that music – as was played at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships – can be a point of distraction. We believe that spectators at major open water swimming competitions can be entertained with ongoigg information, color and commentary.

From what we have observed, the British, Spanish, Brazilians, Canadians, South Africans and Italians do a great job presenting the sport in public. In the United States, we also have the talent to provide color to the sport – people like Sid Cassidy, Rick Walker, Eney Jones, Erica Rose and Gerry Rodrigues – can and should be utilized to everyone’s benefit.

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