John Wooden, a famous American basketball coach at U.C.L.A., defined success as a peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable of.

When we see swimmers strive but not complete an open water swim or crossing, John Wooden’s definition of success seem extremely relevant.

Often, Mother Nature is not cooperative on swims that do not end as the swimmers wish. The dynamic conditions in the water make it impossible or extraordinarily difficult for the swimmer But Mother Nature‘s actions lead swimmers to dig deeper than they ever thought possible. They dig deep, but Mother Nature has greater resources on her side.

When open water athletes swim long distances, there is so much that can happen. The probability of the unexpected occurring increases with time and distance in the water. We call this principle ‘The Certainty of Uncertainty‘.

The Certainty of Uncertainty Principle is a fundamental observation in the open water swimming community where swimmers find that the longer the swimmer is in an open body of water, the greater possibility and increasing probability that (a) adverse conditions will occur to make a swim longer, more difficult, or impossible, and (b) marine life will appear. This is especially true in ocean swims and in swims in large lakes as it relates to currents, winds, tides, eddies, sharks, jellyfish, waves, and seasickness.

With the advent of GPS technology and a growing experience of escort pilots, navigational errors are now largely taken out of the equation, but there used to be a third parameter in this Certainty of Uncertainty principle: (c) navigational errors will lead to greater distances to be swum.

The Uncertainty Principle can also result in more favorable conditions for the swimmer who finds that the conditions occasionally smooth out as time passes. The case of Héctor Ramírez Ballesteros in the Strait of Gibraltar is a case of The Certainty of Uncertainty Principle that works in the favor of the swimmer.

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