Anthropologists, genealogists, historians and the media often refer to different generations when explaining trends and demographic changes or characteristics in history.

People occasionally talk about the Lost Generation (with an average birth date of 1914), the Greatest Generation (1923), the Silent Generation (1935), the Baby Boom Generation (1955), Generation X (1968), Generation Y (1975) and Generation Z (1992).

If the open water swimming community were similarly described, what might be some of these generations? We took a stab at it below. If we assume Captain Matthew Webb’s generation is the first generation with a birth date of 1860 and a generation is 22 years, then we will soon enter the 8th generation of open water swimming:

First generation with a birth date of 1860
Second generation with a birth date of 1882
Third generation with a birth date of 1904
Fourth generation with a birth date of 1926
Fifth generation with a birth date of 1948
Sixth generation with a birth date of 1970
Seventh generation with a birth date of 1992
Eighth generation with a birth date of 2014

The first generation representative swimmer is Matthew Webb of Great Britain who opened up the eyes of the world that the seemingly impossible could be achieved.

The second generation representative swimmer could be Annette Kellerman of Australia who opened up the eyes of society that women deserved their place in the water.

The third generation representative swimmer could be Gertrude Ederle of the USA who opened up the eyes of the world that women had great potential in the open water.

The fourth generation representative swimmer could be Jose Cortinas of Cuba who showed that difficult conditions and tough times could not stop the passion of swimming in the open water.

The fifth generation representative swimmer could be John Kinsella of the USA who elevated the sport with the speed and stamina of an Olympian.

The sixth generation representative swimmer could be Edith van Dijk of the Netherlands who demonstrated motherhood, academic success, Olympic glory and sportsmanship could be all wrapped together in one package.

The seventh generation representative swimmer could be Larisa Ilchenko of Russia who showed tactics and strategy play an enormous part of open water swimming success.

And who will be representative of the eighth generation of open water swimming?

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association