Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Mutual Bonds In Open Water Swimming

Mo Siegel is one of those swimmers who are on the wait list for the 2010 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

Besides several NYC Swims and an English Channel relay, Mo competes with a group of swimmers of like-minded athletes called the NY Harbour Seals.

Eileen Burke, Robert Makatura, Caroline Jaenisch, Helen Wyatt, Paul Reckoff, Kumiko Niimi, David Fytche and Mo share swimming logs, team up for relays and support each other as crew members or training buddies for a variety of swims.

It is this friendly mutual support and camaraderie that across borders, cultures and generations that is so compelling and pervasive in open water swimming community. These bonds - both intangible and tangible - have drawn thousands of newcomers to the sport.

In his authoritative book, Long Distance Swimming, published in 1957, the venerable Commander Gerald Forsberg eloquently described this camaraderie that is embodied by Mo and his colleagues: "Probably the greatest delight about marathon swimming is the friendly atmosphere. Each swimmer regards every other one as a co-member of a corps d'elite."

"After all, even the slowest swimmers who can complete a ten-mile course are persons reasonably out of the ordinary. Consequent on mutual respect, there is a minimum of that back-biting and jealousy which often affects more mercurially temperamental athletes. Never have I know any marathon swimmer refuse advice, assistance, or material to any new participant...but bad feeling between competitors is almost non-existent

As Commander Forsberg wrote back in 1957, the NY Harbour Seals are living examples of this open water swimming corps d'elite.

No comments: