Saturday, 30 June 2012

Exuberant leaping...

Last year, I watched a documentary called The Big Celebrity Swim  (no longer available) about a relay swim across the Irish Channel organised by Richard Branson. The team involved a group of celebrities of varying degrees of starriness, and with varying degrees of swimming ability and experience, and a back-up team of top-notch marathon swimmers. Perhaps understandably, the documentary focused on the fears and struggles of the celebrities, showing only the occasional glimpse of the marathon swimmers. But one of the marked differences between the two groups was the (non)exuberance of their entry into the water. The celebrities lowered themselves nervously down over the sides of the rib, but the experienced swimmers could be seen hurling themselves exuberantly into the air before splashing, arms and legs splayed playfully, into the water. Of course, this is a product of experience and comfort with the surroundings, but I have often thought since then that rather than the endless (and for me, deeply tedious) debates about wetsuits and non-wetsuits, and who the 'real' swimmers are, this should be the test - given the opportunity to jump into deep water from a platform, with how much vigorous abandon is this performed?

I was reminded of this recently as I've been following the 8 Bridges Swim in New York, organised by Dave Barra - 120 miles down the Hudson River in 7 day-long stages. I've been compulsively following their Facebook posts, videos and pics (vicarious swimming is my second favourite sport), and all of the swimmers, by the 'vigorous abandon' jumping in test, score extremely highly. Take, for example, this excellent example of Dave Barra in 2011 during the inaugural 8 Bridges Swim:

Or this very exuberant leap during this year's event by (I think) Rondi Davies:

 But from the pics that have been posted so far, the queen of exuberant launches has to be Gracie van der Byl, who I was also lucky enough to meet in La Jolla last year, and who can leap and plunge with the best of well as being an amazing swimmer who is attempting to complete ALL of the stages.

Special marks for this dive bomb from the judges...

Well done to everyone swimming the 8 Bridges and to all those organising the swims - it looks fabulous. Now, if you could just organise it out of UK university term times...  

And as for me, well...I like to think that there's a certain amount of exuberance to be seen here in my leap into the water for the beginning of the Bridge to Bridge swim in San Francisco last year.

Happy leaping!

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