Seated at 36,000 feet above the Pacific… a perfect opportunity to reflect on another summer of open water swimming in New Zealand.
The sport continues to grow phenomenally. New Zealand’s biggest open water swim series, The State Ocean Swim Series saw record numbers of swimmers. The State Epic Swim New Zealand championships in Taupo also had a fantastic turn out. From a personal perspective the amount of new comers taking to the open water and experienced swimmers seeking new challenges provides encouragement for the sport. But why? Why are people taking to open water swimming like ducks to water? Why is the sport experiencing such growth? Some thoughts … we have spent the last 30 years carefully covering all of swim pools. We now heat them to close to 30 degrees C or slightly close to. Many of us recall the days of outdoor pools used not only for swimming but also for socialising, non-swim recreating and often a ‘hub’ for community get-togethers. It is unlikely you use your local indoor pool for any of these activities today. Most indoor pool users will arrive, swim or take a lesson and depart, very little more. For many ‘youngsters’ or even adults who learned to swim later in life a 30 degree indoor pool is all they know as a swim experience? Enter the call of the open water … a chlorine free, dynamic, raw environment. Natural water temperatures, sunshine, wind, perhaps waves, currents , colour and depth. Little surprise that for those who have ‘accomplished’ in the pool and are looking for a new challenge, a way to keep their swimming fresh and exciting , the call of the open water is a natural next step.
Fantastic swimming; Adam Walker completes his 6th ‘Oceans Seven’ crossing with a fantastic swim of Cook Strait. Unseasonably warm water temperatures for the time of year, 16C in April and a massive pod of dolphins keeping close escort for over an hour (Adam personally told me he is 100% certain he saw a shark swimming below) . This has made one of the biggest open water swim you tube impressions with Adam Walkers Cook Strait swim hitting 4.5 million views!
Mistakes … I enthusiastically wrote a piece on the NZ Triple Crown of Swimming, NZ3. What a great idea I thought, what a fantastic set of swims for someone to try and complete. Turns out they already had … in 1984! My hearty congratulations to Belinda Shields who on the 24 March 1984 completed a Bluff to Stewart Island Foveaux Strait swim in 9 hours 53 minutes. Combined with a Taupo swim on 8 March 1980 (15 hours 58) and a Cook Strait swim on 24 March 1980, 8 hours 32min this made Belinda the first NZ Triple Crown swimmer.
Dumb people … all of us …The human race … man are we just dumb sometimes . New Zealand is a fantastic open water swim location but we are still behaving nonsensically in many of our decisions … like putting sewage directly into our rivers http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/10029940/Works-filth-poured-in-river
New team members … Ollie is running the Christchurch based Swimlab over winter , if you are in Christchurch or passing through drop him a line https://fitandabel.com/events-bookings/fitabel-summer-series/personal-121-techniquefitnessfilming-lessons/
Keeping abreast … with so much happening all over the world it’s hard to keep up with all the fantastic open water swim related activities, that’s why I subscribe to the worlds only dedicated open water swim magazine. http://h2openmagazine.com/
Smiles … at the thought of all the fantastic swimmers, friends, family and supporters I have been privileged to have contact with over the New Zealand summer. As a coach I shared in your challenges and your successes. Your enthusiasm and energy motivate me! Thank you.
Finally my thanks to Air New Zealand for flying me back and forward between New Zealand and the UK each season and for bringing the many RealSwim Adventures participants to New Zealand.
Dan Abel is head coach for www.fitandabel.com and www.realswimadventures.com founder. He is based at the famous Tooting Bec Lido June – September. Dan coaches, writes, swims and talks endlessly about all things open water swimming.