In 2013, on the Marathon Swimmers Forum, a discussion was started by Evan and Donal on the spirit of marathon swimming. The discussion began with how solo marathon swims are (or should be) conducted, and the traditional rules that are respected by those in the sport for the “spirit” of the sport. But they also asked, “what is marathon swimming to you?”
In a world of ego’s, the comments that followed from marathon swimmers were extremely introspective and also unselfish in the support of others. There was no talk of “beating someone’s time” or “coming in first”. There was no jealousy or vanity. There is, and always has been, disdain for those who skirt the rules (cheat) as it is disrespectful to others in the sport, no matter your level or ability.
I found my comment from that discussion —
The spirit of marathon swimming is the community that encourages you and that you are held accountable to – out of honor and respect for those in the sport who have come before you and those who will come after. It isn’t a clock, it’s a distance, no matter the time. It’s shedding the woes of the past, one stroke at a time while battling demons of the mind and environment while continuously seeking strength for what’s ahead.
It’s the thrill of watching a dot update across a screen for someone you have never met and cheering, dancing and begging that little dot to just keep going and hoping somehow that energy makes it to them. It’s the amazing generosity of support and encouragement – be it piloting, kayaking, counting, advice, feeding, housing, airport pickup, or sharing a workout – because you love the sport and want everyone to succeed.
It’s the glee in talking tides and temperature, soup for breakfast and showing jellyfish scars on your belly with unabashed excitement.
And, it is the people of marathon swimming that make it spectacular.