Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
When Endless Pool exhibited its product on the West Coast of America with elite swimmers Megan Rankin and Lexie Kelly, curious conference attendees looked upon the young women swim effortlessly against the oncoming jet stream.
Attendees would touch the warm water, and ask how they could use the product for fitness and rehabilitation purposes. They would ask about the pricing and features, and about installation in various facilities. They inquired about what other customers use the Endless Pools and occasionally take photos of the young women swimming in synch.
But when Endless Pools teams up with Adam Walker at the Swim Expo in Manchester, England, the ambiance around the sole British Oceans Seven swimmer and the Endless Pools was electrifying. Walker holds court and swimmers of all ages and abilities are attracted by the atmosphere of sharing training tips, providing technical analyses and nutritional advice during channel crossings and marathon swims.
We have seen this time and time again between the ambiance at shows, conferences and exhibitions in Great Britain and America.
In the casual atmosphere typical of events held in California and Florida, attendees seem very introspective and mellow when talking with exhibitors like Endless Pools.
But fly over across the Atlantic Ocean and the ambiance is dramatically different. You can feel the energy; the discussions between exhibitors and attendees seem much more animated and excitable.
It is almost as if the Americans have been there, done that, and are moving along in an all-day pace. In contrast, the British seem to be swimming along at a sprint pace, trying to absorb all there is as quickly as possible, thoroughly enjoying and learning a much as possible about the sport of open water swimming.
We are only guessing but it is our observation that many more people in Great Britain and Europe identify themselves as an open water swimmer. It is clear that a tipping point has been reached in the sport – throughout many places in Europe and Brazil.
The media carries frequent articles in both its print and online editions including innumerable interviews with open water swimming luminaries. Social media is rampant with open water swimming content. Additionally, books gets published; movies and documentaries find funding. Designers and visionaries like Colin Hill and Jeremy Laming develop all kinds of interesting events for a public that can seemingly never participate in enough events.
Television broadcasts a plethora of programs that touch upon open water swimming and its most capable or visionary enthusiasts from Kate Rew to Adam Walker. Athletes from Simon Griffiths to Keri-Anne Payne can forge professional careers in the sport. Government agencies, from national federations to local municipalities, are supportive of the sport through a variety of programs and funding.
It is an exciting era to identify oneself as an open water swimmer, whether one simply enjoys swimming laps in a lido or competing in winter swimming events. Continental-wide events sanctioned by LEN and privately-organized events hosted by BEST FEST are growing all over Europe.
In contrast, with the preponderance of warm-water swimming pools in America, many more people identify themselves either as a pool swimmer or a triathlete. While swimmers like Charlotte Samuels and Diana Nyad occasionally gets ink in major publications in America, the attention paid to America’s world champion open water swimmers like Jordan Wilimovsky and Haley Anderson pale in comparison to their European counterparts.
That being said, while the epicenter of open water swimming is and will remain located in Great Britain, the rest of the European continent and the America is gradually catch a similar fever.
For more information about the 2016 Swim Expo on March 18th – 20th, visit www.swimexpo.co.uk.
Adam Walker will be in the swim zone at the Swim Expo in Manchester between March 18th and 20th. Ocean Walker will be in the Endless Pool throughout the day.
Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association