Why did you become a marathon swimmer?

bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
edited April 2012 in General Discussion
30 years ago I could swim a fast (?) 5K and liked to swim in the ocean. So I decided to give it a go (but life got in the way) It's a good thing I didn't know then what I do now about what it takes.


  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    I heard about marathon swimming too late unfortunately. I don't mean my age; I mean too late to take advantage of the places I've been stationed. I was stationed twice in NW Florida (Ft Walton Beach) and even in Monterey, CA, so I could have taken advantage of close races (Pensacola) and clubs (Kelp Krawlers).
    I'm an adult-onset swimmer, starting masters in 2003. But I only really heard of marathon swimming after I'd been stationed here in Russia. That was a little over 2 years ago.
    I guess I became a marathon swimmer because I realized I like the freedom of no lines or flip-turns. And then after my first OW swim, I realized I loved the chaos of the start and the technical aspects of the sport (navigation, drafting, etc).

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    Because I'm crazy? :-)
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited April 2012
    Went to Sandycove and became friends with a bunch of loons who brainwashed me into joining their Cult.


  • jcmalickjcmalick Wilmington, DEMember
    I grew up spending summers in the pinelands of New Jersey, home to the Jersey Devil...perhaps a small part of me thought, JD likes to fly but he's afraid of water...perfect escape route! In a nutshell, that blurb explains what @ssthomas said above!
    JD.jpg 42.3K
  • Been swimming the 500/1000/1650 FOREVER but can't do a start or flip turn to save my life, and LOVE being outside. Easy answer :)
  • nvr2latenvr2late Central VirginiaCharter Member
    I have just returned to swimming after a long hiatus and began last summer with Masters and triathlons - I found that I loved the open water and the variety of lakes where I competed. This interest quickly mushroomed into local, then regional, Open Water swim competitions. I would rather swim in a lake, the ocean or a river, but pool swimming obviously has its place in training and in seasonal availability. Those of us who love the experience of swimming in open water understand what it is that attracts us to it - I personally get lost in thought and feel a freedom that I experience nowhere else. I am not a Marathon Swimmer yet, but am working toward that and will do my first 10 miler this summer. According to a previous post, I think that would qualify me!
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    See the world, meet amazing new friends and raise money for those who are less fortunate! It will provide some great stories to tell my grand-kids some day by the fire :)

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    found it a more direct route to get to the other side than just sitting

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • BillBill Member
    I needed to get back in shape, I've always been a crappy sprinter and I really didn't feel like taking up running.
  • AquaRobAquaRob Humboldt Bay, CACharter Member
    For me I think it was the thought that popped in my head each time I finished the longest swim I'd ever done "I bet I could go a little further..."
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited April 2012
    For the money and fame, of course!
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    i was going to say I'm not sure if I even AM a marathon swimmer, then realised I have the ability to turn any swim into what seems like a marathon...
    I'm like IronMike and only took up swimming as a sport in 2003, after moving from Australia to Chicago. I always spent a lot of time playing in the surf but after realising how much I love continuous swimming, I'm hooked and want to do it as much as possible. The idea of spending a whole day indoors at a swim meet, paying money to spend as little time as possible in the concrete hole makes no sense at all. I also love the touristy part of marathon (or any OW) swimming. I love seeing places from the water.
  • swam a long time ago and then laid off for nearly 30 years and then ran into a major health issue that brought me back to the water. I have to say swimming in a pool is no fun at all but hitting the open water is like being set free. I guess I like the feel of having to deal with what the elements through at you be it good or bad.
  • JanetJanet New York, NYMember
    I was mainly a (masters) pool swimmer until fall of 2010, when--horrors--there were no local meets on the calendar, and no good travel meets that worked with my schedule. I needed something to train for, and CIBBOWS happened to be hosting some crazy 5K swim at Coney Island . . . in November! At the time both the water temp and the distance seemed daunting. But I started going out to the beach every week to train, and discovered I liked it. A whole lot. I've been hooked ever since. Thanks CIBBOWS!
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member
    My 50 is for crap and started dating a marathon swimmer.
  • SalishSeaSalishSea Nanaimo, BC CanadaMember
    As an adult onset swimmer I new I would never be fast so "If you can't go fast go far!" I also love to day dream and it's so easy to get lost in my imagination while plodding along.
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    I have a whole list of MSF members to blame. How long have you got?
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I'm too young and handsome for golf.


  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    I'm not one yet. But the idea that there's a badass sport I don't have to get skinny for is really attractive.
  • I didn't have to be fast or skinny.
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    I've had 10+K swims on my to-do list for 20 years and lots of people are faster than me for about 200 yards.

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member
    it wasn't a conscious decision to do this. it just snowballed from quitting the 'should' exercises (running, classes, etc.) to only doing something that made me happy and that was the water. I started swimming laps alone in a pool and within 3 months signed up for an OWS. now i just do it for the shock and awe
  • andissandiss Senior Member
    Because running is painful and cycling involves to much gear - plus its antisocial i.e. when you are training - you can't swim and talk!!

  • msathletemsathlete Victoria, British Colubia, CanadaMember
    I became a marathon swimmer to help manage Multiple Sclerosis. About 10 years ago I was pretty weak and getting weaker by the day. The doctors at the time had told me not to exercise or I could trigger another MS attack. The "do-nothing" method didn't seem to be working, in fact I was getting worse, so I decided to reacquaint myself with swimming after a 25 year hiatus. I started in the pool soon realizing that swimming fast put too much pressure on my body and caused issues with MS so switched to long distance swimming and eventually made my way to the lake and ocean.

    The open water provides me with freedom, the freedom to exercise and be healthy. That is why I became a marathon swimmer.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    It was unavoidable, as I make every swim feel like a marathon.
  • For the enjoyment of swimming a bit further, a bit faster and feeling a big stronger. I've loved every moment of the challenge and it's given me an enjoyable new interest in mid life.
  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    Because it scares the shit out of me
  • Cole_GCole_G PhiladelphiaMember
    For me it started from being a competitive swimmer most of my life. After I left my college swim team in my 3rd year of studies I quickly found that eating like a swimmer, without training like a swimmer is a bad bad idea. I gained over 20 lbs in only about 2 months. So I decided I needed to get back into a sport, so I decided to try my hand at triathlon. I did a number of triathlons for a year or so, and was decently successful at them, but my body clearly wasn't made to function on land. In each of my first 4 tris I hurt myself (not muscular injuries, but actual cuts and bruises from clumsiness) over the next year I suffered a couple muscular injuries from over training on land. So after the last injury I decided land just wasn't for me.

    I had done one or 2 open water 5k's in high school, and had really enjoyed all the open water swims in my triathlons, so I decided to try a legit open water race. I did the Little Red Lighthouse 10.2k in 2013, and I was immediately hooked. I knew then, that I was an OWS swimmer. So I did a bunch of races in 2014, including my first 10 miler at the Kingdom swim in Vermont. Now I know that 10 miles isn't quite on par with the insane swims some of you maniacs on this forum have done, but it was enough to convince me that I am just as crazy as the rest of you. So now I am a marathon swimmer, and am greatly looking forward to trying bigger and badder swims in the future :)
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    I haven't quite reached the exalted status of "marathon swimmer," but at 5.4 miles, I'm maybe getting a little closer. I entered a race that at first I thought much too long and each time I did it thought "never again!" So I'm planning to do it this year. Running doesn't hurt enough, is I think the answer. ;) Seriously, the satisfaction of lasting as long in the water as some folks do in land marathons attracted me in a twisted sort of way. 50 thousand people might run a marathon on a given day. If things go south, it's easy enough to step off the course (had to do it a couple times due to injury). But if you're swimming, sure, you can step out, get into a boat if need be--yet it's more complicated and so it's push on until you can't or until you reach land. It calls for a different level of commitment to the event. And this is very intriguing to me. These days too, I can endure longer in water than on land. I still enjoy running and running in races--logistically simpler, and there are more opportunities--but the water keeps calling me back to itself.
  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    @dpm50: There's also the rising sea levels to think about.
  • andissandiss Senior Member

    I searched the forum before posting this...but during my last swim I thought a bit on why I swim (in togs in somewhat coldish water). And I kind of came to the conclusion its due to 3 reasons...even though I’m not a hippie it might sound a bit hippie-ish.

    The serenity - you end up closing out the world a bit.

    The danger – sink or swim.

    And obviously the workout….I don’t really have any more personal reasons….more than above.

  • pavlicovpavlicov NYC USASenior Member
    edited June 2016

    I get to lay down ! I love the horizontal position and this is the only sport that I can do while being completely horizontal. It is like laying on the couch only with additional flapping of arms around.

    Surprisingly, I can flap my arms around for quite a long time. That is exciting.

    I love the idea of self supported movement from A to B. I love the 'freedom' that I can self-move from A to B not only on land but also in the water.

    Earlier and longer zoning out. It takes me forever to find the sweet spot of zoning out in running. And it does not last for long. Give me half a mile and I am in my own world. And, I get to be there for very long time. And, in comparison to running or to other sports, it is so far less possible to take a call or check emails while swimming.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    I enjoy the challenge and the solitude. And, sometimes I can get my wife to paddle for me, which we both seem to enjoy.

    When he's bigger, I really hope my son wants to come with me, either in or on top of the water.

  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member

    i certainly didn't start out with the objective of becoming any kind of swimmer. At 47 i decided i was no longer doing any 'shoulds' and only doing what made me happy so i started swimming. And each year i'd go longer looking to find the point it was no longer fun....i'm still looking for that place. Who knows maybe in 3 years i'll decide to take up pool meets and swim the 'distance' events or do an ice mile.
    I may have become a marathon swimmer along the way but like most of my life it's not terribly planned out with long term goals but rather reactions to opportunities and new ideas. I'm loving the journey!!!

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    The water is my home. It's the only place where I feel truly complete. I started short, but now want to stay in as long as possible. Might as well try to get from point A to point B in the process. I've also found myself transitioning from wanting to participate in organized events to just going out on my own with a friend or two and seeing what kind of trouble we can get into. Most of the bigger events feel too overwhelming, and that takes away from the joy of just being in the water.

    It's been hard for me to get back to the distances above 5K since going back school, but that ends in another year and I have plans for beyond.

  • (Haven't done a marathon distance yet, so not really qualified to post in this thread, but ... )

    The freedom of the water.

    Knowing that if I fall out of the canoe, I have a pretty good chance of making it to the island, and maybe swimming around the island to see what's on yonder shore.

    And, like ChickO'Sea, and probably others, I am happy to observe land from a nice distance out to sea. A different perspective, a different zone of life.

    Otherwise, swimming to keep walking these days, so I may as well try to get from point A to point B, where maybe I will find Rosemarymint!

  • JacqueJacque M. (Germany)Member

    I tried a lot of very different sports over time, team and solo, from soccer to riding, from sailing to martial arts. Somehow I took up swimming one day, and never stopped. I changed to OW three years ago, and never looked back. I felt, like I was at home, finally, but never asked myself, why.
    Preparing for my first 25k-swim last week that question came up and my answer is a bit cheesy, but true nonetheless: In marathon swimming I can live my core values: it is honest (you follow the rules, observer or not), it is pure and simple (caps, goggles, costume - nothing more and certainely no wetsuit or any other battle of materials), it is fair and transparent (you swim or you don't, you reach the shore on the other side or you don't, same conditions and rules for everyone), and it takes a lot of commitment (all in or nothing). The "freedom & adventure"-part certainely helps, but for me it is about the values. That also answers my question, why it is so easy to get in contact and become close friends with fellow marathon swimmers, because they basically share the same values, or otherwise they would have taken up another sport.

  • bluemermaid9bluemermaid9 Boca Raton, FL, United StatesSenior Member

    I'm was born a mermaid, but lost my tail by the time I was self-aware. At 42 I decided to learn to swim without it. It's been over three years. Now I only get out of the water to go to work.

  • EllisEllis Baltimore, MarylandMember

    For the same reason JFK articulated for going to the moon:
    "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win ...

  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    msathlete said:
    I became a marathon swimmer to help manage Multiple Sclerosis.

    The open water provides me with freedom, the freedom to exercise and be healthy. That is why I became a marathon swimmer.

    I used to teach an aqua class for a local MS group. We had such fun! I was told in training that the chillier water was useful-- do you find you do better in the cooler open waters relative to pools? With my history of back issues (periodic mobility problems that can last weeks or months), I think the water is the place to be. So glad it is working for you!

  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    timsroot said:
    I enjoy the challenge and the solitude. And, sometimes I can get my wife to paddle for me, which we both seem to enjoy.

    When he's bigger, I really hope my son wants to come with me, either in or on top of the water.

    My 24 year old son paddled for me recently, which was GREAT, and my 10 year old daughter is learning. :-) Last summer, I tethered myself to an inner tube and towed her around a small lake. She is very . . . um. . .encouraging? Nagging? Hurry up, MOM!!! ;-)

  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MASenior Member

    I tell people that it's because I've always liked to swim across things.

    When I was a little kid, we lived on a slow moving, wider river. We were about a quarter mile from the local beach, where I spent my summers teaching myself how to swim and annoying the crap out of the lifeguards. I was also a super lazy kid, so one day I figured out I could swim to the beach (sidestroke, carrying my towel out of the water). I lifeguarded as soon as I was old enough, but never swam competitively (my race results would argue that I still don't....).

    After college, I did that thing where you sit on your ass all the time and gain a ton of weight. I realized in my early 30s that I couldn't just work out to lose weight be healthy because I HATED that... so I signed up for a triathlon because I was scared of it, and I figured that would get me moving. It did. I did a bunch more, then I spent the last 8 years with off and on injuries. When I realized last year that my knee wasn't actually ever going to support running, and that the races I liked were long, I decided I should try marathon swimming instead since I always liked swims better than bikes or runs.

    When I got out of the water after the Clubhous/Province Island swim this August, I realized that if my stomach wasn't so pissed off, I would have cheerfully swum more. So I think I'm hooked.

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