Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

When we watch the great athletes in the sport of open water swimming in the water, we easily sense their high degree of awareness that these athletes possess about conditions, currents and competition.

It is almost magically how sensitive, strategic and smart they are in the open water.

Athletes like Petar Stoychev, Thomas Lurz, Ana Marcela Cunha, Larisa Ilchenko, Alex Meyer, Ous Mellouli, Andrew Gemmell, Haley Andersen, Keri-Anne Payne, Hank Wise, Gerry Rodrigues, Penny Dean, Henri Kaarma and other greats have an incredibly high navigational IQ.

Like sharks, they seem to have some human form of ampullae of Lorenzini, the electroreceptor organs that help sharks detect the electromagnetic fields of marine life around them. These swimmers just seem to “know” when conditions change, currents shift, surges are made, and not only where their competitors are positioned, but also when their competitors will make a move during a race.

But this awareness comes from a variety of clues, including swimming on their backs in order to see what or who is behind them as show by Petar Stoychev above during a FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix race.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association