Have Extra Time, Lots Of Energy? You Can Help

Courtesy of Ned Denison, Cork, Ireland.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing pool and shorelines to be closed and more people put under various lockdown, quarantine, and shelter-in-line ordinances around the world, the number of hours swimmers can train is being significantly reduced.

There are just so much dryland training many swimmer want to do,” says Steven Munatones. “Swimmers, by and large, are not gym rats, nor dryland fitness fanatics. Some swimmers run, spin, row, stretch, do yoga or Pilates, walk, climb, paddle or kayak, but swimmers love the water. They are aquatic beings and without the ability to swim in pools, lidos, lakes, oceans, seas and river, this limitation can lead to frustration.

But open water swimmers can get involved and channel their energies and talents to benefit the sport in multiple ways. Swimmers can take digital pictures of their old photos or old swim results. Then, they can organize, compile, and then submit them – with any backstories or remembrances to the Daily News of Open Water Swimming (email to [email protected]) and for the historical archives at the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (email to [email protected]). This is especially important for swims that are no longer held or held in places that are well off the beaten path.

It is also a fact that few swimmers want to talk about the DNF’s, their failed swims. We can all learn from what went wrong in a swim. It is great to share these experiences with others.”

Ned Denison, chairman of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame expands on the opportunities, “There are many ways for people to volunteer for our sport.

You can research and help with the history of the sport. We need the old swim results and records of the sport.

Most organizations and associations (or former or current leaders of these groups) have boxes of old results in someone’s basement, attic or garage. Now is the time to save them before too much more time goes by. In the ideal situation, you will type out results in spreadsheets (like Excel) so that the information can be repurposed on websites in the future. If you don’t fancy typing them … simply scan the pages, ideally with a flat bed. However, a smartphone with good lighting and a steady hand can also do the trick.

Once the old swim results and records are digitized, somebody will eventually type them out. Optical Character Recognition might work – but not for 50-year-old handwritten documents. Once the results and records are digitized, the records will live on….send a copy for two likewise interested friends, as a good back up.

Where these are old marathon races, the Marathon Swimmers Federation might publish and the Daily News of Open Water Swimming will highlight in an article – or two or three.

Where these documents involve swimmers inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, the MSF may publish and certainly will the the Daily News of Open Water Swimming.

Races are just ONE part of the our sports history. How did the event start? What is the history of the organization? Who are the volunteers who did the heavy lifting for years? If you have time and remember the information (either in detail or just in broad brush strokes), write it up, scan the old photos (smartphones can do this job), and send out a report on social media.

Swimmers can also find your group’s equipment like buoys, stopwatches, unused swim caps from previous races, list them up, and repair if necessary.

Now can also be the time to find those extra paddles, radios, whistles and clipboards. You can make an inventory and list who is “storing” which bits of equipment where.

Now is the time to complete your group’s financial accounts for 2019.

Now is the time to create or revise your event safety plans for the 2020 – 2021 event. This is a good time to list EVERY adverse event that you can think of. You would be shocked how much you learn from seeing them all in one list and your future plans will change.

You can volunteer to help the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame or the local swim organizations or committees that have provided you with opportunities these past years. They all have lists of projects that need to be done – many of these projects can often be accomplished in front of a computer.

You can list your dream swims and start turning them into real plans. What are your dreams and which will turn into plans? If you lack 2020 confidence…start researching for 2021 NOW…while you have time..”

As one example, Denison has more than 200 marathon swims around the world that have caught his imagination over the years. Planning, training for and completing these swims, crossings, and races are only part of his dreams He also dreams of becoming a Marathon Centurion. He has completed 55 marathon swims by the age of 62. In his words, he says, “I can’t afford to hang about. I need to complete 3-6 marathons a year before I hit middle age.”

Munatones summed up the opportunity to rapidly and dramatically transform the global open water swimming documentation from paper and pen to laptops and the cloud. “With the growing ubiquitous utility of the Internet and digital input of information, photos and videos, there is tectonic shift in the sport of open water swimming.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the vast majority of open water swims from the English Channel to the Molokai Channel, from the Great North Swim to the Cole Classic were described and recorded through the eyes of race directors, reporters, and volunteers using the ol’ fashioned pen and paper. Occasionally, a swim was filmed and archived from the Daily Mail of the Billy Butlin Cross Channel International Swims in the English Channel or the aQuellé Midmar Mile with quadcopters, but more or less, pen and paper were used to document channel swims, marathon swims, ice swims and open water swims around the world until the late 1990s. Now is a time to digitize all this content…if the community collectively has the time and interest.”

Photo from André Santos of SwimTogether in Portugal.

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