The beauty and challenge of open water swimming is often viewed and dissected from the perspective of swimmers. But sometimes people on land provide the best view of the sport and its enthusiasts.

Race directors, volunteers, safety personnel, timing officials, and vendors standing onshore are among those individuals who gaze upon the courage and talents of open water swimmers. These people on terra firma wait in anticipation and hope for the success of each open water swimmer, no matter their age, ability or background.

They wait onshore with mugs of coffee, warm towels and heartfelt smiles. They feel the success and joy swimmers experience when they cross the finish line or crawl up on shore.

Evelyn and David Frantzeskou of Folkestone who run Varne Ridge Holiday Park are two such individuals. Varne Ridge is a small secluded family-run establishment that has been hosting English Channel swimmers since 1996 when swimmers first began enjoying their hospitality.

With panoramic views of the English Channel with views to the coastline of France on a clear day, Varne Ridge often plays host to open water swimmers from all over the world who come to England in the hope of swimming across the English Channel. “2012 saw a total of 32 successful solos and relay crossings [at Varne Ridge]. The sweet was Trent Grimsey breaking the world record, simply amazing. Ever since our first Channel swimmer, and great friend [International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer] David Yudovin back in 1996, we feel very privileged to play a small part in a Channel Swimmers dream, providing help and support, where and when we can.”

What a unique view of open water swimming history – and an opportunity to be a part of so many experiences of so many swimmers from around the world.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source