William Wilson, an International Swimming Hall of Fame honoree, wrote in his 1883 book The Swimming Instructor, “The experienced swimmer, when in the water, may be classed among the happiest of mortals in the happiest of moods, and in the most complete enjoyment of the happiest of exercises.”

He figured out more than a century before Dr. Wallace J. Nichols started the new discipline of neuro-conservation about the profound connection between the brain and the water.

The two pioneers, one in the 19th century, the other in the 21st, used the power of observation and self-exploration to uncover the wonders that occur when the human brain and the open water intersect.

While Wilson emerged as a leader and pioneer in Scotland in an era before most women were even taught how to swim in most countries, Dr. Nichols is emerging in a field that unites neuroscience, ocean exploration and marine stewardship among neuro-scientists, ocean scientists, economists, photographers, explorers, writers, and ocean advocates.

And just as Dr. Nichols is devoting his full-time attention and talents to this new field, Wilson advocated that “…a successful teacher of the art of swimming ought to devote as much thought, application, hard work and constant practice as almost any branch of education or science…”

So with the past innovation of Wilson and the current creativity of Dr. Nichols, we ponder the current inequality of the aquatics world. In the contemporary global aquatics community where there are over 18,000 full-time swimming coaches and innumerable other full-time professionals from lifeguards and aquarobics teachers to triathlon coaches and learn-to-swim instructors, how many full-time open water swimming professionals are there?

While many believe the sport is well-served with its base of volunteers and debate the need to have part- or full-time open water swimming professionals, we believe there is a vacuum that can be filled with many full-time open water swimming coaches and professionals, from race directors to administrators. We believe full-time, devoted, experienced individuals who focus their talents, time and passion on the sport will help elevate and expand the sport in myriad ways.

And the sport is seeing more and more individuals making this transition to a full-time passionate professionalism devoted specifically or primarily to open water swimming: Gerry Rodrigues and Bruckner Chase in the United States, Paul Newsome and Mark Perry in England, Paul Ellercamp and Shelley Taylor-Smith in Australia, and Ricardo Ratto and Pedro Rego Monteiro in Brazil, Yash Daryanani of Suriname and Rudsel Maria of Curaçao. These full-time professionals are pushing the boundaries on how best to provide services to swimmers of all ages and abilities.

What Wilson preached in the 1880’s will undoubtedly expand to an even greater scope throughout the 21st century. We can’t wait to see his vision come to global fruition.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source