What Are You Thinking About In The Open Water?


We do not know what professional marathon swimmer George Park was thinking when a large shark approached him during a 1968 swim off the state of Rhode Island, but it is always interesting to ask open water swimmers what they think while they are in the open water.

Based on my own experiences and inquiries, thoughts by open water swimmers are a function of their personal experiences, mindset and external factors.

That is, their thoughts seem to be a function of (1) the environment (e.g., the water feels cold today or the waves are rough), (2) their physical condition (e.g., I feel good today or I am getting tired), (3) their own mindset (e.g., what are my plans tomorrow/ or I wonder what my son is doing on the beach now?), (4) the competition (e.g., why is this guy just hanging on my feet? or I need to pick up the pace to drop this guy), (5) the marine life (e.g., I hope I don’t get stung today or there is a lot of kelp in the water today), or (6) external factors (e.g., the exhaust from the boat is disgusting or I should have put more lanolin around my neck).

These thoughts, as recalled in their totality after the swim, seem to be constantly zipping in and out of one’s own mind interspersed by periods of zoning out, in a kind of simultaneously overwhelming download of mental processes and activities and dead zones. This mass of thoughts in the open water are probably enhanced or made more vivid because the normal tactile and sensory experiences on land are essentially eliminated (e.g., you cannot hear, feel, perceive, or see external images as well in the water as on land).

Or so we think.

What do you think and think about?

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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