Wetsuits in Marathon Swimming

Wetsuits in Marathon Swimming

Paul Lundgren #

Scott Zornig, the president of SBCSA, published What’s wrong with Marathon Swimming? The link was posted on Facebook. It kind of drove me crazy. So, I replied. Below is my edited and now public response…

I think this topic is worthy of public discussion, maybe with a little more sensitivity. I’m glad you wrote the article Scott, though I, a bit more than slightly, disagree. I do wish to add my two cents.

I agree with you, if you want to claim you swam a body of water and used a wetsuit, I think at the least, you should add an asterisk *. However, I don’t think we should condemn anyone for using a wetsuit and drawing attention to their personal accomplishments. If you want to go through a governing body to have your swim certified then pay the money, follow the rules and make your mom proud. But, who is anyone to say don’t use a wetsuit and don’t tell the press?

Governing bodies have their place and purpose. If open water swimming is something you are doing to make a mark in history then pay the fees and make your mark. If you get a hankering to swim across a lake twice and get the press involved, go for it! Yes, you can show some respect (for those who are passionate about tracking marks) and recognize you did it with a wetsuit, but don’t apologize.

I understand the need for governing bodies and value their service, but I would like to know who is governing them and certifying their random fees and services? Meanwhile, I will follow the values I learned from my mentors and swim where my heart tells me. I’ll take responsibility for my own safety, thank you. Something about the wilderness of open water swimming, the unexplored horizon these swims offer, the hearts of mavericks they attract and what a good friend said about making our own rules resonates with me. Don’t get me wrong, because I am happy to have read your article. I think it has a little merit, but the tone seems too “civilized” for our sport. Honestly, it seems wrong. Do we really want to dictate to the world how they should swim? I swim in the wild because it’s wild, I do it the way I feel works for me.

As far as the person claiming to be the first double lake crossing you referred to as a “stunt” in your article, I am proud to say I know him, as I am sure many others are as well. I don’t think he would have any problem admitting that he swam the double-crossing with a wetsuit. I’m also sure he would be the first to applaud the person who will eventually do it without a wetsuit. Most people in our swimming community know he wore one. All the interviews I saw he was wearing one, so it’s not like he is hiding the fact. I only wish it was an F2R. My position has nothing to do with the fact that I own a wetsuit company. I am an open water swimmer who swims without wetsuits. I made my “mark” at Catalina and did so under the grace of the Federation. I intend to continue to make my mark around the world and if Federations are available I’ll use them, granted I can afford to. I hope to do many more swims in the spirit, you mentioned, defined by Merriam-Webster. I like that term “natural.” I recognize this sport has a long history, but it feels young to me, unexplored. I would hope, as pioneers for this sport (we are pioneers), we could explore a more “open-minded” approach in our role as leaders and try not to throw people like my friend under the bus, at least in public.

I do appreciate your passion Scott, and recognize your intent is to preserve many people’s shared values for this sport. But, I do think we could explore more alternatives and definitions than simply non-wetsuit swims, but that might be the wetsuit salesman in me. On the other hand, it might open a wonderful world, we marathon swimmers enjoy, to a wider audience. In that welcoming spirit, possibly, less inspired souls could also enjoy what we have come to love so dearly. I like that idea—more people swimming in the wild. I find the open water has a way of bringing nature into consciousness and I think we could all use a little more wild nature and a little less civilization.

With courage,

Paul Lundgren

source: http://www.distanceswimming.com/featured/could-it-be-leadership/