While humans are adept at self-expression, the exchange of concepts, the organization of complex social structures from families to nations, entrance into the open water is a profoundly unique equalizer. Mutual respect, camaraderie and bonds form among humans who swim in the open water, easily and immediately.
While social interactions between humans over the millennia have led to an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, this same interaction remains simple when humans meet in the open water.
Are you cold? Are you tired? Do you see that? How far more? Can you go faster?
Of the nearly 7 billion humans on the Planet Earth, only a very tiny percentage can easily and safely swim more than 500 meters from shore. Yet those that do swim beyond the shore understand the joy and the challenge of their aquatic adventure. There are inherent elements of risk, of danger, of thrills. Once back onshore, the swimmers enjoy the mutual sharing of that experience. They inquire how others felt in the open water.
Basic questions are asked: Were you cold? Were you tired? Did you see that? Could you swim further? Could you go faster?
Those fundamental feelings, impressions and experiences together form the basis of modern open water swimming society. It puts a smile on faces and a desire to return.
Humans have proven to understand and influence their environment, but they remain at the mercy of even slight changes to water temperatures and conditions in the open water. While mankind can easily withstand a 10°C decrease in air temperature, a similar drop in water temperature can be the difference between swimming and not. While humans can explain and manipulate phenomena through science, philosophy, mythology, and religion, we still remain perplexed and surprised at nature’s ways and changes while swimming in the open water at the individual level.
The open water profoundly and immediately draws us closer together so when Lewis Pugh of South Africa talks with Doug Woodring of Hong Kong or Nejib Belhedi of Tunisia or Yuko Matsuzaki of Japan or Philip Rush of New Zealand or Vicki Keith of Canada or Sally Minty-Gravett of Jersey, there is a connection among open water swimmers that goes beyond cultures, language, gender and age.
Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source