View Full Version : Why do you like Open Water Swimming?

March 1st, 2006, 03:56 PM
I love to swim in places where I can see the bottom. So, I don't mind snorkeling in the Caribbean, but I can't seem to get excited about open swimming in other places.

I'm not trying to be controversial here, I was just wondering what is it about OW that you like, beyond the obvious reasons such as not confined to a pool/lane, it is outside, no flip turns, etc.

March 1st, 2006, 04:06 PM
Susan - I don't view your question as controversial. And, I think you listed all the reasons why I love open water swimming: it's liberating, exhilerating, not monotonous and there's no chlorine.

In addition, swimming in San Francisco Bay and from Alcatraz throws in another whole dimension of reading the currents, sighting, swimming in the wind and chop and generally getting to know Mother Ocean very intimately.

There's an element of risk and it's inherently dangerous but we always have a piloted zodiac along in case of emergency.

I guess these are the same reasons that a lot of people prefer trail running to running on a treadmill or biking versus a Life Cycle.

Different strokes for different folks.

Sabretooth Tiger
March 1st, 2006, 04:33 PM
All of what was said, plus as far as competitive swimming goes, it's a lot more fun to go to an open water swim, do the race, be finished with all of your friends and then go celebrate with breakfast and beers . . . or whatever . . .

Hanging around on a pool deck all day for a few minutes of racing is not nearly as fun in my book. This is NOT a diss to pool competitions so no flaming . . . just the point of view that I've developed more recently, since getting into open water races.

It seems to me like the open water community is also pretty friendly and displays a lot of camaraderie. The ocean/open water swimmers I've gotten to know are a pretty good bunch.

March 2nd, 2006, 06:29 AM
I agree with what everyone has said so far.

For me, it's also about swimming in open sunlight. I was in the Bahamas a few months ago, and I swam in their outdoor pool at dawn. There's just something about doing the backstroke and being able to look up and see clear blue sky. For me, it's invigorating for the soul.

March 2nd, 2006, 10:42 AM
This is odd. I love swimming open water. When I was a child, as we were going to where we spent our summers, we had to cross the Mississippi at the Quad Cities. We would frequently swim across. Then my mother would drive over the bridge and pick us up. Then when I lived in DC, I frequently would swim in the Potomac, from the boathouse to Roosevelt Island and back. That is a great swim, especially if there are a lot of planes landing over your head.

This morning, I went to register for an event coming up in August. I was planning on a trip & going camping with a friend after the swim. As I was registering, I realized that the event was going to be very expensive for me becasue not only the fee but also because of the paddler expense. I would rather not have a free meal the night before than to pay for a paddler.

March 2nd, 2006, 11:37 AM

Who did you swim with in DC? One of my favorite coaches use to train people in that area, as well as at Haines Point.


March 2nd, 2006, 02:57 PM
Interesting question. And a good one. There are lots of reasons why I enjoy open water swimming. One is avoiding the tyranny of the clock--I'm not able to compare myself to my younger fitter self. I can make up for some lack of conditioning with some guile. Which is good because I have more guile than conditioning.

The physical challenge implicit in every open water swim is rewarding. And fun.

The different views and locations are great. Seeing a turtle in Hawaii, a reflected snow cap mountain in Elk Lake, catching an outside wave at Manhattan Beach, etc. All those are vivid memories. Trying to swim and sight a course and trying to find a better route than anyone else so I can sneak ahead.

The camaraderie which someone mentioned surrounding doing an open water swim, which contrasts with spending time on a pool deck for a pool meet is great.

The constant variety between different swims. Salt water, fresh water, calm, choppy, currents. Even from year to year the same swim can be entirely different and you have to figure it out. Everyone once in a while, you get it wrong no matter how many swims you have done. That's OK too. Means you don't get bored. Or shouldn't.

March 2nd, 2006, 04:06 PM
The freedom.

The lack of boredom or restricting lanes.

In places with clean water, the ability to go without goggles.

March 3rd, 2006, 10:33 AM
Originally posted by thewookiee

Who did you swim with in DC? One of my favorite coaches use to train people in that area, as well as at Haines Point.


I left DC in 1993. At the time there weren't nay teams. I swam at Marie Reed and at Wilson High School. Now none of the high schools in Dc can offer swimming becasue their pools are in such terrible disrepair.

March 4th, 2006, 07:29 PM
I too love the open water. So much so that I host 2 open water events each summer. A 10km (6.6mile) and a 26.2km (16.25mile).
I love the clean clear water. I love how the sun dances on the top giving interesting patterns and shadows. I love swimming with trout, schools of fish, seeing fresh water crays, clam beds, sunken logs and breathing in fresh air!! Of course no chlorine is a given!!
I like it too when there is nothing but gazillions of meters below me, a vast and dark view.
Although I prefer fresh water, I have done a lot of ocean swims as well.
The challenge of the cooler water.
Pushing yourself to swim in inclement weather. (After all you can't pick race day)
Swimming with endangered species. 2 so far and counting!!
Learning how to stay calm when sea otters and seals want to 'play'.
Learning how to stay calm when dolphins rub your belly wanting to play. (this happened in a race, and I shot out of the water so high, after all they were grey and had fins!!)
The challenge of battling waves! And staying on course.
The feeling of freedom when the water is so calm that swimming seems so powerful!
The rhythmn of efficient strokes with no walls to watch for.
That each race and course is so different and each time will also be different, so finishing is an achievement.
And Yes, the apre swim comraderie!! Our group is one to join!!
I enjoy indoor too.
But my passion is certainly Open water. I was inspired to become a swimmer when I was 12. We were holidaying at a beach and I happened to be down on the bay rowing in my dingy. A large group of swimmers arrived and took off to swim the 3 miles across the harbour. I raced up to my Dad and said. "I am going to be a swimmer, and I am going to do that race". I did, only had to wait to learn to swim for another 20 years!! My Dad beamed the whole way across, as my support crew, a promise he made if I ever did the swim.

March 6th, 2006, 12:30 AM
Just got back from Oahu, and snorkeled for my first time in Hanauma Bay, with lots and lots of beautiful fish and five giant green sea turtles. The largest one was about 5 feet long. I love swimming in the lakes here in Washington, and swimming in the ocean was like having a wetsuit on because of the extra buoyancy. Another great open water swimming experience.

March 10th, 2006, 12:29 PM
After about 10 years of not swimming my times in the pool are not what I want them to be. Doing open water swimming, I have no expectations (or previous times to beat myself up with) and enjoy that. The pure freedom and exhilarating feeling from swimming in large bodies of water can't be beat.

March 19th, 2006, 05:43 PM
Ocean swimming in Australia has grown dramatically over the last 10 years.So much so that the most popular races are limited to 2000 entries.We have a circuit in Sydney that goes for about 5 months.
The reason I like it so much is that it involves more strategy and variation in skill.In a pool you may as well run time trials these days as many races are just races against the clock.I still pool swim and will continue to however the open swim allows a pack (no lanes) of swimmers to compete with each other in an unpredicatable field that involves
surf,wind chop,swell,currents,rips,slip streaming,teaming up,short runs,wading,navigating,stingers,sand bars and more.Pool swimming needs to be more technical,skillfull in starts/turns and should be very well planned. Try planning for the above.You see in ocean swimming (rough water) the best technical swimmer does not always win.That combined with an atmosphere of a "day at the beach" makes it more fun for me.I still pool swim though because I like swimming the medley of strokes.

March 21st, 2006, 10:17 PM
The feeling of freedom it gives me, plus I like a gentle surf to play in going in close to the beach then going out. It is different then pool swimming and the taste of saltwater gets in you. As far as seeing the bottom most of the time I cant which is good so i dont see some of the critters sharing the water with me. It does not really bother me but I dont swim with a wetsuit (cap and goggles yes) and now and then something does touch me and yes it gives me a start!

April 21st, 2006, 01:48 PM
I love that I can just keep going and going. It feels like you can swim forever. Walls and flip turns seem to be constant reminders of how far you've gone and when you're tired, it's easy to think "i already swam X distance" and each extra lap can become a chore. But in open water, you become independent and it's just you and the fish in your own world. It's like walking rather than driving too. Your body is your own method of transportation.

April 22nd, 2006, 09:26 AM
It is a completely different feeling than going back and forth in the pool. Especially in Sweden where we have long and cold winters it is wonderful to be able to swim outdoors. I start swimming in one of the few outdoors pools and as soon as the temperature allows me I will enjoy swimming Open Water.

It also gives me great workout!!

June 20th, 2006, 07:35 PM
On fathers day I swam around Round Island just south of Ketchikan Alaska. The water was warmish on one side and cold on the other, the bottom was more of a small shelf or cliff filled with seaweed, star fish (all colors), muscles and barnicles. When you picked your head up to look around the only things I saw were more islands, open water, birds, swimming partner and maybe the escort. So why I like open water swimming? I don't know, maybe I can't find a reason to dislike it.

June 21st, 2006, 07:39 AM
I learned to swim in salt water in a bay, and love when I can get the chance to return there to swim--the sun on the water, the rocking of waves, and the edginess of keeping an eye out for crabs and jellyfish (actually some jellyfish are pretty harmless and feel like... well ... jelly). The downside is seaweed, but even that keeps things interesting.

I only last year did my first open water ocean race, and that was more nervewracking b/c of going out through breakers and wondering what sorts of "finned friends" were looking for two-legged lunches, but at the same time, it was kind of cool once I settled into the swim and enjoyed the sun and waves. I tend not to see these events as 'races" only b/c my speed won't make me a contender, but rather as a chance for a protected group swim. As the others said, the camaraderie of being with others dealing with the same conditions is a great treat!

Also, in the pool, it can get crowded w/ trying to find a lane that's either empty or has a compatible swimmer, whereas there's no need to worry about that in open water.

However, I still enjoy swimming wherever I swim, including in a pool--since it's within walking distance of home, that's more convenient than going in search of open water. (There's a stream near my home, but as it's about a foot deep at its deepest, it kinda inhibits swimming.) ;)

June 21st, 2006, 01:56 PM
I never really liked open water swimming I had to doit to make money.

June 24th, 2006, 02:10 AM
Originally posted by geochuck
I never really liked open water swimming I had to doit to make money.

How did you find a way to make money by open water swimming?

June 24th, 2006, 12:09 PM
I swam the in the World Proffessional Marthon Swimming Federaration races held All over Canada, USA, Argentina, Egypt and Europe from 1963 to 1970. Made money from prizes and sponsors. From october to July before the first races started in the summer I taught swimming at the George Park Swimming School.

June 25th, 2006, 06:33 PM
Way to go. Sorry the OW was more job than passion.

July 20th, 2006, 03:34 PM
The scenery. The peacefulness. The challenge of having to overcome unexpected challenges - tides, sealife, currents,
sun in eyes, staying on course or getting back on course. . .
It's something very different to do in your life.

August 3rd, 2006, 12:52 PM
Everyone's passion for Open Water has convinced me to give it a try. I don't have a place to practice, but I am swimming in two Open Water events this month.

The scariest part is all of the unknowns. My first goal is to finish the race (both are 1 mile) in a certain time frame and I will see how it goes from there.

Great posts on this topic.

August 11th, 2006, 03:36 PM
First open water event went better than expected. I love it! It was in fresh water - very clean w/ great visibility. When it got too deep to see the bottom it was just a dark blue color, but it didn't bother me like I thought it would.

Since it was fresh water, there was no fear of sea life and since it was a race, I was never "alone" or had any fear of not being able to return to shore if I had a cramp or something.

The cool temperature of the water - approx 65-68 degrees was perfect for me. My body heat stayed cool and I could work harder.

I made some new friends and it was really fun. I am officially "hooked."

August 25th, 2006, 10:41 AM
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why I like open water so much! Salt water makes me horribly (and reliably) sick. I have actually become quite skilled at hurling while continuing to swim. I also recently was inducted into the "attacked by jellyfish" club during an otherwise beautiful open water practice swim in VA Beach with my training partner. All I know is that it's incredibly fun to go out there and have Mother Nature knock you around. (Although I'd think I'd have to draw the line at being attacked by a shark...)

June 13th, 2008, 12:18 PM
I swim almost every day from the same beach. What I like best is that it's always the same but always different. That is, though I swim in the same location every day, there are so many things that change every day: the waves, the tide height, the temperature of the water, the color of the sky and water.

Beyond that, I find it so peaceful to get out several hundred meters and leave the rest of the world behind. I like the fact that I am doing something that most people won't or can't do. When I'm swimming I feel so connected with Nature and am left with a feeling of calmness for the rest of the day.

June 13th, 2008, 01:05 PM
I wanted to chime in here since I just swam OW for the first time since I was 14. I hyperventilate when I swim OW and have stayed out except when we were in Barbados and Hawai'i--that's too scenic to upset me. I also have my SCUBA certification, but again, I did that in the Carribbean. Anyway, I swam this morning and loved it--after I hyperventilated through the 1/4 mile. Went on to swim a mile and was very proud that I accomplished that, even though the distance is short. But it's a different type of distance. I hate the kelp and that I cannot see the bottom, but it's a very freeing experience. The entire world is around me, with nature and other fellow humans just paddling along. Seals barking to my right along the cliff line, with people above the cliffs strolling along watching.

It is also a much more social experience than pool swimming. Groups of buddies hanging out, slathering on vaseline together...we went out to coffee with fellow swimmers after. I don't get that at the Y.

The water here is 63*, and even though I wore a full wetsuit since it was my first time I think I'll wear my spring suit next week and eventually just my suit once I feel comfortable.

I now see what you all love about it. I won't be a full convert to OW, but I will join in the fun once a week.

June 13th, 2008, 01:40 PM
I'm a new swimmer and the first time I swam in OW, I freaked out a little. Now, I'm a more comfortable and I'm really into it. I still get nervous but I'm more excited than anything. I like the idea of actually going somewhere, from point a to point b even if for only a short distance and even if I just turn around and go back. It's like running on the road versus running on the track.

Oh, it's free too and you can go any time.

June 15th, 2008, 05:59 PM
I don't do it as often as I swim in a pool, so it feels new and refreshing.
The distance, I love swimming distance!

June 28th, 2008, 12:12 AM
Open water swimming a little history here in Wind Waves and Sunburn. This is not the complete book just some portions of the book. In the index at the end you will see I am mentioned on several pages.


Ron Lockman
June 29th, 2008, 10:26 PM
I have always loved being in the woods, and now,..I`m learning about the wildness of the open ocean,....plus,...my wife does not swim ,.but she encourages me, and after every swim in the Ocean,..I take her to dinner. We are starting to plan "trips" around swims!

July 3rd, 2008, 10:06 AM
Flexibility, compared to pool swimming. Last week I was on a business trip to Utah and New York State. On Wednesday, I swam (upstream) in the Colorado River. I made 20 feet of forward progress for every 10 minutes of swimming. Air temp: 102. Water temp: 65. Visibility: 2 inches. The hotel pool was 20 yards long and 87 degrees hot.

On Friday, I swam upstream, then downstream in the Hudson River in Staatsburg, NY. Back to the local pond in Maine tonight.

www.swimvacation.com (http://www.swimvacation.com)

July 3rd, 2008, 12:24 PM
Grabbed the teenagers to come along with Husband and me this morning. 14 year old daughter did a great job for her first time out. 15 year old son kind of freaked, but is willing to go again to try to get over it. It was nice to have a unique family experience in the summer--getting up at 5:30--especially with doughnuts and coffee afterwards!

Ron Lockman
July 3rd, 2008, 02:04 PM
The La Jolla Cove is the most beautiful place I have ever swam,..I`m getting to love swimming around the kelp,..its like flying over the top of a forest. "swimming" over the kelp is interesting,..it is a great place to rest,..sort of like being in a water-bed.

July 3rd, 2008, 05:56 PM
The La Jolla Cove is the most beautiful place I have ever swam,..I`m getting to love swimming around the kelp,..its like flying over the top of a forest. "swimming" over the kelp is interesting,..it is a great place to rest,..sort of like being in a water-bed.

My husband feels exactly the same way and swims directly to the A buoy to lie on the kelp like an otter. I, however, do not share in your joy and hate the stuff.

July 4th, 2008, 10:19 AM
it provides the ultimate opportunity for stroke analysis...when i swim OW i can forget about pace and focus on the stroke and body balance, there are no turns to disrupt concentration/focus and simply gives me the chance to feel any symptoms of a non-symmetrical stroke.

also, nothing works better for endurance for OW races than cruising out a mile or two non-stop. In southern VA we don't have the nice lakes like I grew up accustomed to in western NY so I have to try to replicate the OW experience once a week in a long course pool by doing various sets such as 1x1,800, 1x1,200, 1x800...but that's just not the same

July 18th, 2008, 11:31 PM
I love the variety of open water swimming. In open water swimming, you can swim planned routes and try to better your previous times. Or you can swim at a easy pace along the shore line, observing the underwater life as you go along. You can swim during a downpour or in the bright sunshine. Swimming in the rain is actually a lot of fun. Reminds me of playing in the rain as a kid.

I swim on a lake in upstate NY during the summer. While swimming on the lake, I often discover underwater outcroppings, interesting underwater rock formations, fish hiding in the weeds, beaver dams, lily pads. Sometimes I encounter dropoffs along the shoreline that disappear into underwater oblivion. During an open water swim one can stop along the shore anytime for a break. My dog often swims with me and she loves it when we stop to explore the shore line. On a lake one can swim out to an island and explore a newly discovered beach.

Swimming explorations can last as long as you like. I did a 4 mile lake swim in which I explored the shoreline of seven islands. Took my time enjoying the sights under and above the water. During this swim, I swam fast sometimes and at other times did a leasurely breast stroke. Took 3 hours.

I love to swim in the early morning when the lake water is clear and very calm. During these times, the lake can be like a sheet of glass. You glide through the water seemingly effortlessly.

Swimming in high wind is a real challenge, but doing so gives you a sense of real accomplishment. You can plan a route that starts by heading into the wind, in which you have to battle it out with the waves. Then on the return home, you cruise along at top speed with the aid of wind and waves.

Swimming into the wind is a challenge. While turning your head to breath into the wind, you have to turn your face skyward so as to avoid taking a gulp of water from a crashing wave. But you get pretty good at battling the waves. With much practice, you can learn to take a broadside hit from a wave and still get a breath of air. Of course, it is much easier to get a good breath on the leeward side (looking with the wind).

July 24th, 2008, 03:35 PM
I like looking to the north and seeing nothing but the water meeting the sky.

I also think it's like a roller coaster ride when I'm in a group swim and 2-foot waves are throwing us up and down while we swim.

July 24th, 2008, 06:29 PM
I like the feeling when I reach the other side and I see the bottom coming up at me and I can stand again. It's like being in a plane thats landing...I cheated death again!! YEAH!!

I took part in a night swim last week...wonderful...seeing the lights of the shoreline from out in the ocean...nothing like it..ever.

On the down side...I hope Body glied works...I'd hate to need a rashguard!

July 25th, 2008, 07:48 PM
a few reasons