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Is 50 The New 20 In Open Water Swimming?

Years ago (i.e., in the 20th century), it seemed as if sub-60˚F (15°C) was considered cold. Then swimmers kept pushing the bar and swims in sub-50˚F (10°C) waters were considered cold. Swimmers in the Czech Republic, South Africa, Ireland, Melbourne, New York and San Francisco led the way and kept pushing each other. Now, in the early years of the 21st century it seems that swims in sub-40˚F (5°C) are the new ‘cold’ standard.

Years ago, 20 miles was considered a marathon swim. That standard is also changing as swimmers keep pushing the envelope.

This year alone, Forrest Nelson (48 miles), Ray Gandy (en route to 50 miles), Elaine Howley (en route to 50 miles), Penny Palfrey (68 miles) and Diana Nyad (planning 103 miles) are setting the bar quite high.

As the Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger), perhaps open water swimming’s new motto should be Colder, Longer, Harder?

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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