Mutual Sunscreening Among Open Water Swimmers


Allogrooming is when animals like monkeys groom each other, usually assisting each other with parasite removal and hygiene. Animals reciprocate in cleaning each other and removing parasites like ticks, fleas, and lice.

When we visit open water swims from South Africa to Brazil, from Cayman Islands to Mexico, from Fiji to Hawaii, we inevitably observe open water swimmers of all ages and backgrounds with their own type of social binding.

The catalyst of their interaction is usually a question like, “Can you put some sunscreen on my backs?”

Inevitably, swim buddies, teammates, friends, family members, and occasionally two strangers and sometimes two competitors help each other by smearing on sunscreen on each other’s backs before the race. The swimmers also inevitably know to avoid the black marker ink so the body markings are not removed.

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