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The Big Difference with Open Water Swimming1 of 12
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 Sport2 of 12
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 Time3 of 12
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 Crowding4 of 12
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 Spare5 of 12
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 Bay6 of 12
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 Strait7 of 12
Special Olympics athletes competed alongside elite and Olympics swimmers in the RCP Tiburon Mile Open Water Swim in Northern California.
Suited Up8 of 12
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 & Roll9 of 12
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 Begin10 of 12
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.
Finished11 of 12
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.