Saturday, June 2, 2012

Is the sea Dangerous? or do we need to pay more attention to the detail?

"Life is filled with certain obligations and responsibilities, but none more basic, primal or important than the responsibilities that we have to ourselves"  

Is the sea dangerous, is it hostile? or is it what we need to say to make our efforts heroic or validate our own lack of attention to the risks when incidents occur. Last summer there was some negative press about certain swims as swimmers had to be rescued. Talk about drama-Nothing that the sea did caused any of these incidents, the sea was ebbing and flowing, variables such as wind, strength and tides came into play, lunar positions etc.. all of this information is available to organisers but the sea certainly was not waiting for an opportunity to get one up on the swimmers, can you imagine a wave sitting pretty thinking, yep I'll get him now.. It doesn't.. 

The sea in all it's beauty.. 
To keep our open water sport fun and safe WE need to learn about the medium that we train and swim in. We expose our bodies to risks and these risks vary every single day. Lot of swimmers just land on the day having trained for a 5km or a 2km and know little about the conditions or the sea.. Seriously I wish the world could experience what we do But I also want us all to be happy and need to protect the reputation of my liquid heaven.
Seeing the boat is not always possible but having a
good crew is the most important thing and trust!
It's not enough that you register for a swim and just throw your body at the mercy of an event organiser. If you present they also assume that you're prepared? but what is prepared anymore? there is an influx to the OW of new swimmers, triathletes, pool swimmers transiting, fantastic. I swim alone and would LOVE company in my world, but each year I hear swimmers say i'm doing a 5km -where?, what conditions? what variables? Have I trained enough in these conditions? do I know how to orientate?
Some 5 km swims take a good 2 hours when also some 10km swims take 2hours with bay and tidal outflow..
Which is your tipple??? do you want bragging rights that you completed a 10km swim in 2 hrs or are you there for the long haul?
Are you ready to spend more time than necessary in the water? do you have an emotional Plan b when it goes haywire? The one thing that is certain is that the sea suffers lack or preparation gladly. It will suck you up and make no bones about hair and make up-it is the most honest aggressor.

Please know that I am not saying that you should sit back but we need to teach and learn. Despite crying profusely into my goggles, stomping and kicking an invisible enemy, I would not have it any other way, I would only wish that every swimmer could experience that moment when you cross over to relenting to the sea. It is not enough any more that swimmers learn to rotate their arms for hours on end and then say that it was a horrendous swim, my opinion from 8 yrs experience of bringing swimmers into deep OW is that info is power. Be humble and be honest.. It matters little who you are.. we're all here to be happy and safe.
When they say "that was tough"-yep it was.. when they say "I was nervous" -yep we all have moments, when they say "I was going nowhere"  sure that was my expectation..
Your crew need to know you.. Me in the Blasket Sound
V V conflicted piece of water, was pummeled high out of the water

I crap myself sometimes-we wouldn't be human if we didn't but you grow into that feeling of greatness.
Some days are better than others BUT don't expect swimmers to mind you-come prepared with information mostly about yourself. The sea is not going anywhere and please make the right decision.

The transition from pool swimmer to open water is huge, but the transition from sea water swimmer to fresh water swimmer is bigger and the transition from open water to adventure open water swimmer is ginormous where the risks increase and Plan B's are needed, then there's the extreme conditions.
Each of these, need us as swimmers to be ready and know our journey.

Me I use the words conflicted, confused, frustrated or troubled but I would never use the word dangerous, I would consider some of our lack of preparation dangerous, some of the lack of preparation dangerous.  Dangerous is a man with a gun or a knife the sea is merely going about it's business and some days there is no place for us in it, we need to recognise those days.

Anne Marie and Iswimming to Inis Bofin Island off Donegal-
things went pairshaped but we we chatted our way across the 3km
We need to protect the seas with the prowess of a lioness and her cub, that includes what others say about it.
Thoughts to consider-
READ tide tables
Know your areas, watch the water, see the wind, watch the buoys how they bop and dance, know which side you breath to and how the wind affects this, know how the tides are flowing in this area, how the spring/neaps are in this area.
Have you trained with or against? Do you cry easily? Do you depend on other swimmers or are you ok alone? We sink in freshwater, your stroke is much different and water being lighter changes all the power, Lakes have their own heartbeat-check local knowledge.
Mostly TALK to your crew-Do NOT assume they have the information you need or know yours.. Be responsible and mostly be safe and happy.. Defend our swims with your own smiles and pride of the sport we love.. We have worked hard to be treated well and lets keep up our side of the bargain. Look after each other. The sea is not out to get you.. it has bad days like ourselves but NOTHING is worth a bad swim-so listen to the sea and it will make the call.. Be Safe.. and remember would you go out in a boat with a hole in it? 

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