Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

As the top professional marathon swimmers travel from the shores of the Paraná River in Argentina, Napoli in Italy, Cancún in Mexico, Santos in Brazil, lac St-Jean and Lac Memphrémagog in Quebec, Canada, they leave a wide path of friendship, laughs and smiles.

The FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix and FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup organizers host opportunities for the 20- and 30-somethings to mingle with the local kids. The young ones have great opportunities to ask these professional athletes how they train, what they eat, what worries them, and what drives them.

Today we went to the race start and met 100 kids from the local swim team that had never swam in the river before,” said American Lexie Kelly together with Pilar Geijo of Argentina. “They each did a 300-meter lap down the beach and wanted to ask so many questions. I can see some of them doing the professional marathon races sometime in the future.”

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association