Yes, You Can Be An Open Water Marathon Swimmer

3 Kommentare

I loved it. Great points here. I will try to swimming in the ocean in 2024. It is a challenge. I live in Vancouver, BC – Canada.
Thanks

Airton Dudze 08 Januar, 2024

I have been doing long distance swimming (for me 2-4 miles) in Oyster Bay Harbor off of Long Island Sound for over 40 years. I start mid May and go through early October and swam about 175 miles this past year. I move indoors during the winter but am ALWAYS eagerly looking forward to a return to the open water! There is nothing better than a two hour swim without ever having to turn and lots of beautiful scenery to keep me entertained. I swam across Long Island Sound in 2001 but now that I am about to turn 70, I think I will stick to Harbor swimming!!!
Jamie T

Jamie Townsend 08 Januar, 2024

I enjoy lap swimming but always wanted to do more open water swimming. I’m also in the New York area and would love more information regarding getting started.

Aidan Carragher 08 Januar, 2024

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If you’ve ever thought about doing open water swimming, especially something on the longer side, but were afraid to try or thought it was just a ridiculous idea, Leslie Hamilton wants to change your mind: “If you're a swimmer and you think that what I do is crazy, or just crazy in that, wow, I could never do that crazy, I would encourage you to think again.”

Hamilton, 31, started swimming in middle school and after “sticking it out” through college, hung up her goggles for good, burnt out and uninspired by the water for years. But after discovering open water swimming in New York, Hamilton found a new community, a new way to enjoy the water, and a new passion—and you can too. 

1. It’s More Accessible Than You Think 

“I think that what people get wrong is that they think they can't do it. I really think marathon swimming it's a lot more accessible than people give it credit for,” Hamilton says. 

Admittedly, Hamilton swam through college on a division three team but she left swimming burnt out and spent several years out of the water. Her training for the 10K shows how small, consistent training with a focus on joy can build to big goals. 

“I started out by swimming 2000s at my local pool and then they had a water aerobics class. I would literally do water aerobics as my bulk of my time when I was training for the 10K. I was just enjoying being in the water again, and I think that’s, first and foremost, the best thing. And then once you get that down, then whatever you want to do, just go for it.”

2. It’s Not About The Speed

“I think a 10K is a pretty accessible distance for almost anyone because it's never really about the speed. Plenty of people go in and just want to finish.” 

 While now Hamilton admits she is competitive and is cognizant of her speed, most people aren’t and she was one of them when she started. For her first 10K swim, a current-assisted event in the Hudson River, Hamilton recalls: “I didn't know what I was doing, I really hadn't practiced that much in the open water, but I was having fun!” Speed isn’t a reason to sit on the sidelines. 

3. It’s a Welcoming Community 

“You’ll see a theme here is that there are so many good open water groups and just groups of people and inclusive communities in open water,” Hamilton says. From her open water training group—that “welcomes everyone and encourages you no matter how slow or fast you are or how short or long you want to swim,”— to the event organizers she now volunteers for, Hamilton found a welcoming and like-minded community of people that have supported and enabled her to do her big swims. “People have really helped,” she says.

4. There are Countless Opportunities 

“I hope to be swimming for, I would think, another 20 or 30 years—and there's so many bodies of water out there,” Hamilton says. With it’s low impact on the body, swimming is well known for being a one of the only sports that can truly be a lifelong activity and open water swimmers are truly spoiled for choice. Hamilton loves to swim in her home waters of New York but she also dreams of swimming Loch Ness and the English Channel. Whatever your level, ambition, or availability, open water swimming offers longevity in every way to every swimmer. 

5. It’s a Confidence Booster

“Just knowing that I can train really hard and try something crazy, even if it doesn't work out, it's just the fact that I am even able to attempt something so amazing. It's such a great sense of accomplishment,” Hamilton says.

It’s not completing the distances per se that has given Hamilton her an increase in self-confidence, it’s been overcoming the adversity along the way. 

The turning point for Hamilton’s confidence was during her swim in Lake Tahoe. The swim was a “stretch goal” for her and she admits she didn’t think she was going to finish even before she started. Hamilton had several big swims under her belt but nothing could have prepared her for the relentless challenges she faced over the 21 kilometers. 

“I started in the dark and noticed I wasn't able to gulp down feeds that well. When the sun rose, I realized the reason that I couldn't feed well was because there was smoke everywhere [from a wildfire] and I started to vomit. Then my wrist was hurting the whole time but I just kind of kept going,” Hamilton says, adding she didn’t think it was serious but needed wrist surgery later. “You just couldn’t crack me with my attitude. I just knew I had to stay positive because there were so many things that were going wrong.”

“I got my confidence because I really just pushed through so much that I didn't think I was going to be able to. When something like that happens, it's almost a little bit more satisfying. I came through it and did better than I thought I would and then I really realized: Hey, I'm in this sport, I can do great things in this sport, and I can really push myself.”

6. Now Is The Time 

"Growing up through [swimming], I never really viewed myself as somebody that was great at the sport,” Hamilton says, reflecting on her experiences at the high school and collegiate level. “But when I think of myself in the context of marathon swimming, I feel so much more confident in my abilities.” 

“I actually think marathon swimming is probably the sport I was always supposed to be doing, but I just didn't discover it until later in life.”

Many open water swimmers, especially ultra and marathon swimmers, start later and are getting back in the water after a long break, burn out, or even starting from scratch. The message is simple: now is always the right time to try.

Check out other long distance open water swimmers in THEMAGIC5 community: 

After a 10 year hiatus, entrepreneur Jason Kloss swam 51 km across Lake Huron in Canada to help his own mental health and raise awareness for others. 

Ben Tuff swam his way out of alcoholism which included a 14 hr swim from Providence to Newport in Rhode Island. 

Neil Gilson, 37, coped with his sons PANDAS diagnosis and raised awareness for the illness by swimming the Bristol Channel—against the current. 

( 3 ) Comments

I loved it. Great points here. I will try to swimming in the ocean in 2024. It is a challenge. I live in Vancouver, BC – Canada.
Thanks

Airton Dudze

I have been doing long distance swimming (for me 2-4 miles) in Oyster Bay Harbor off of Long Island Sound for over 40 years. I start mid May and go through early October and swam about 175 miles this past year. I move indoors during the winter but am ALWAYS eagerly looking forward to a return to the open water! There is nothing better than a two hour swim without ever having to turn and lots of beautiful scenery to keep me entertained. I swam across Long Island Sound in 2001 but now that I am about to turn 70, I think I will stick to Harbor swimming!!!
Jamie T

Jamie Townsend

I enjoy lap swimming but always wanted to do more open water swimming. I’m also in the New York area and would love more information regarding getting started.

Aidan Carragher

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