The open water swimming community is diverse. Whether you’re training for a triathlon, attempting to tap into nature in the middle of a concrete jungle or immersing yourself in a cold pond in the middle of nowhere there’s always someone who wants to urge you on, congratulate your achievement or pass your towel when you get out.
Never before have I been involved in a sport that brings together such a mix of people supporting each other regardless of their endeavour. But what do I mean by community?
I’m not just talking about people you might swim regularly with (though they are incredibly important), there’s the facebook groups, triathlon clubs, fellow swimmers at organised open water venues and events and the random swimmers you might bump into out in the middle of a lake on a recreational dip. I know so many names through online forums but I rarely meet them face to face, even in my local area. I met a local fellow swimmer at a conference recently ~100 miles from where we swim who I’d known through facebook for ages. It doesn’t matter, they all support and want to enable.
Why are these groups so important?
Safety (that one again)
Open water swimming can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Everyone in the community wants to make sure the sport is as safe as possible. By sharing information on swim spots, gear and what open water can do to your body we’re making sure people can have a massive amount of fun doing this but also stay safe.
A new sport
People have been swimming outside for generations but it’s becoming increasingly popular. Largely influenced by GB success in triathlon and numerous celebrity open water challenges. Having said that there is still limited information out there on where and how you can swim safely. Being part of a community of swimmers allows you to tap into important information on local swim spots, temperatures and the best places for a post swim brew and cake!
On day 7 I referred to laughter induced by the cold, either due to the rush of endorphins from the cold or the questioning of ones own sanity but laughter’s nowhere near as much fun on your own. We’re 30 times more likely to laugh in the company of other people (The science of humour). It’s why canned laughter is used on sit-coms. The sound of someone else laughing means we feel comfortable laughing ourselves.
Either way, as humans we have a basic need to be with other humans. We’re social animals who thrive on interaction with each other.
Look out for local open water facebook groups, chat to strangers at an event, don’t be afraid to grab a random person walking by in a dryrobe, I’m pretty sure they’ll all be happy to talk their socks off about open water.