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The Big Difference with Open Water Swimming
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You're away from the reassuring concrete walls, the guiding lane lines, the smooth and dependable pool bottom and the steady temperature of pool water. Instead, you're on your own in water that might be hundreds of feet deep and murky. And then there's the prospect of seeing creatures in the water...
A New Special Olympics Sport
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Open water swimming had its Special Olympics debut in July 2011 during the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Greece. After a practice swim the day before, 35 athletes dashed into the sea to start.
Before the Race, Practice Time
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Steven Munatones, a world expert in open water swimming, reminds the Special Olympics athletes of some of the details of race protocol during the practice event. Munatones is the Special Olympics technical delegate for open-water swimming.
Turning, Sighting, and Crowding
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The practice course was marked with orange buoys, and the swimmers had to work on turns and sighting techniques, and find a way to be comfortable and safe swimming with almost three dozen others in the water at the same time.
Finishing With Nothing to Spare
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The exhausting 1.5 kilometer course at the Bay of Marathon left the swimmers exhausted as they dashed from the water onto the beach where they finished. Andrew of Cayman Islands won for the men and Cornelie of South Africa won for the women.
The Ice Man trains in San Francisco Bay
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Sam, who calls himself "The Ice Man" because of his love of cold water, trains in a sheltered inlet in San Francisco Bay. He was one of the athletes that competed in Open Water Swimming at the 2011 World Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
Swimming the Raccoon Strait
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Special Olympics athletes competed alongside elite and Olympics swimmers in the RCP Tiburon Mile Open Water Swim in Northern California.
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Special Olympics athletes Ancil and Kester get ready to jump into the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay for the RCP Tiburon Mile Open Water Swim.
Ready to Rock & Roll
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Special Olympics swimmer Jenny puts her cap on before heading out into the waters of Lake Anna. Jenny completed the 1500-meter swimming leg for her team during the Giant Acorn Triathlon.
Let the Race Begin
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Special Olympics Virginia swimmers David and Jenny pose for one final picture before heading out into the waters of Lake Anna for a 1500-meter open water swim.
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An exhausted David splashed through the shallows at the finish of the first leg, accompanied by pacer and coach Vanessa Waigand. It was an exemplary Special Olympics moment, an athlete trying something new and finding the strength within to succeed.