Wednesday, September 26, 2012

2012 Global Open Water Conference report

Uh, I think we have a problem.
Josh, Goody and I went together to the Open Water Conference last week on the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  We stayed in the same place at a cheap motel.  The bathroom ceiling was coming down!  So we got a new room.  It wasn't too bad.  Goody wasn't impressed though.  Not surprising since he flew first class.  :)

We went to the meet and greet and met up with Jamie Patrick, Evan Morrison, Lynn Kubasek, and I finally got to meet Ned Denison.  Ned was at Varne Ridge when I was last month and he talked with my parents but we actually never crossed paths when I was there.  He just swam Catalina last week in 8:50 which is a kick butt time.  He's quite the inspiring figure.  Not just as a swimmer, but as a mentor and coach.  He has really ignited the swimmers in Ireland and they all love him.  He very deservedly was inducted into the IMSHOF at this conference.

Ram Barkai, the founder of the Ice
Swimming Association
Later in the evening we met Ram Barkai and talked with him about Ice Swimming.  Everything he said I completely agreed with.  The benefits of ice swimming are huge.  Most people just don't understand until they do it.  It's just as much a test of mental toughness as physical toughness.

The next morning we listened to several heroes:

Diana sharing some pretty
inspiring thoughts
1) Diana Nyad - I was worried that with all the crap she's been dished out by the marathon swimming community that she would get fruit and veggies thrown at her on stage.  There are quite a few annoying elitists that have some negative opinions about her.

She's a very good speaker and didn't exhibit any kind of haughtiness that turned her off.  I really enjoyed the life lessons she was trying to convey.  She was friends with Christopher Reeves.  He talked with her about doing the very best she can in life.  The challenge he gave her before he died to "live life not one fingernail length better", to really push herself to her limits, is what gave her the idea to relive her dream to swim from Cuba to Florida.

Craig jumps up on to the stage
 from his chair and says,
"Who needs a ramp?"
What a stud.
2) Craig Dietz - I loved his humor, and the experiences he shared about his life and the ability we all have to define our own limitations.  KISS - Keep It Simple Silly.  Often we make things way more complex than they need to be.  It doesn't matter what other people are doing.  If we can dream it, and pursue it, it can be obtained.  He said "God won't give me any challenges more than I can handle.  I just wish he didn't trust me so much."  Very inspiring person and my favorite of the conference!

Craig and his wife, Christy, sat at our table for lunch and dinner and it was a pleasure getting to know them a little.  He asked a few questions about my channel swim.  He swam the 5K OW swim event the next day.  He's a hero.

I hope I'm this youthful when I'm 50.
3) Suzanne Heim - She's a very experienced open water swimmer when she was younger.  She did three solo crossings of the English Channel under 10:30 when she was younger.  She joined the Diablo Valley College swim team when she was 50 since she hadn't gone to college previously, and was fully qualified and able to join the team.  She did very well.  The documentary (50 Year Old Freshman) that was shown was really good.  It was a little long, but it was awesome.  And for being 50 years old, she's quite a looker.

Such a funny woman!
4) Greta Anderson - this lady had the absolutely sweetest trophy I have ever seen!  She won it by swimming the English Channel faster than many others in an actual race!  I have never heard of multiple crossing being done at the same time by many swimmers in an race style.  She won and showed many pictures of her days of glory.  She was so hilarious with her commentary during the slideshow:  "Oh no, here comes the one with my big butt in it getting out of the water", "This is more swimming.  This is really boring, lets move on..."  "30 pushups?  No big deal.  I did 30 right along with him."  "Do I know [some legendary swimmer]?  Yes, I beat him."  I got an autographed picture of her.

She mentioned that her trophy
is appraised a quarter million dollars!
One thing she said that I disagreed with.  She said "Back in those days swimming the English Channel was a big deal, but no so much today".  Perhaps because more people are doing it in this generation that in her generation doesn't really make it not a big deal, just that people are more inspired and living to their potential, or at least have the means to do so, than in her generation.  It's still a very big deal.

Strels have got salt!
5) Martin Strel - I missed his presentation since I was in a different breakout session.  But I got to talk with him one on one for a few minutes about swimming in the Great Salt Lake and our event next June.  He mentioned that it was likely that he could participate with us.  How unreal would that be?  He and his son Borut were so down to earth and fun to talk with.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Jamie Patrick, Ned Denison, and many others received certificates of their induction in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Jamie after the meeting approached me and challenged me to consider a Tahoe Crossing.  My wheels have been turning in my head....

What a fantastic time we had!  Definitely one that I'll be attending next year, should it be held in Long Beach, or anywhere else in California.

Thanks to Josh for sharing the pics.  Being the doofus I am, I forgot mine.

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