Google has a fun tool that lets you visualize trends in search queries submitted by its users. Google is often the first place people go to find out more about a given topic, so it’s a powerful measure of the public’s “interest” in that topic. Below are a few Google Trends graphs related to open water swimming.
Is open water swimming “growing”?
- Interest in open water swimming is highly cyclical, with summer peaks and winter troughs. (Obviously.)
- Two big “spikes” corresponding to the Olympic Games in 2008 and 2012.
- Aside from the seasonal cycles and Olympic spikes, the peaks and troughs do seem to rising slightly over time.
As expected, triathlon swimming is consistently bigger than marathon swimming. One exception: the surge of interest associated with the London Olympic 10K marathon swim.
What about the Triple Crown events: English Channel, Catalina Channel, and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim?…
It’s a typically slow time of year for my swimming related endeavors. And so it’s been here at the blog, too! A few brief updates:
- Exciting times at the Island of the Blue Dolphins.
San Nicolas Island is the real-life location of the beloved children’s novel The Island of the Blue Dolphins. It is also the only one of the eight Channel Islands that has never (to our knowledge) been swum to, from, or around. Possibly because the distance between the island and the closest point on the California mainland is more than 61 miles.
Anyway, the island is now owned and operated by the US Navy. Recently, an archaeologist in the employ of said Navy made an exciting discovery: the long-lost cave in which the “lone woman” immortalized in Blue Dolphins apparently made her home in the mid-19th century!
And here’s a follow-up article in the Santa Barbara Independent with some gorgeous photography.
Have you checked out the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association web presence lately? I finally managed to wrangle the FTP credentials for the site, which had become outdated as our Association has grown. I recently put a solid weekend into “refreshing” the site — and, though the project is not finished, I’m pleased with the progress.
I’ll draw your attention to a few exciting new features:
- New live sea temperature data widget on the homepage.
- New “Latest News” section on the homepage.
- Greatly simplified navigation menu (all pages).
- Totally re-worked Swim Successes and Records page, which draws content from a Google spreadsheet for easier maintenance.
- Totally re-worked Conditions page, including a visualization of water temperature trends in the Anacapa Channel.
- New Live Conditions page, showing live water temp, wind, and surface currents in the Channel.
- New Live Tracking page, which – if a SBCSA swimmer is currently in the water – will show their SPOT GPS tracks.
Ashby Harper was the second person to cross the Santa Barbara Channel between Santa Cruz Island and the mainland – and the first to do so by the longer (23.5 mile) route, finishing in Santa Barbara. He did this in 1984, when he was 67 years old.
Ashby Harper penned a “jaw-inspiring” article about the swim for Sports Illustrated.
Ashby Harper graduated from Princeton University in 1939, 63 years before I did. He was considered the best all-around athlete of the Class of ’39, earning nine varsity letters — in football, baseball, and (wait for it…) swimming. He trained in a pool that has been lost to history. Dillon Gym pool – considered the “old pool” when I was at Princeton, was not built until 1947. Ashby’s coach was Howie Stepp, whose 163 dual-meet win total was not surpassed until my coach, Rob Orr, came along.
Ashby Harper served as a Navy fighter pilot in World War II, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals.…
At the SBCSA annual banquet this past weekend, Ben Pitterle and Brian Hall showed a brand-new trailer for their independent documentary film about marathon swimming, DRIVEN. The film features three swims across the Santa Barbara Channel this past summer – including my Santa Cruz Island swim.
See for yourself:
They just started an online fundraising campaign, which will continue for the next 30 days.
THE FUNDRAISING PAGE IS HERE. There are various “perks” available in return for your contributions – including a listing in the closing credits for only $100.
On a personal note…
I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog over the past nearly three years – perhaps occasionally to the detriment of my career and personal life. I’ve never made any money from it (just a few affiliate commissions). Indeed, I continuously lose money to web hosting fees.
It’s a labor of love – love for swimming, and love for writing.
Similarly, this film is a labor of love for Ben and Brian.…
As the name suggests, these awards aim to promote and celebrate the sport of marathon swimming – a unique and historic niche within the increasingly vibrant community of Open Water Swimming. Marathon swimmers – just as our founding father Capt. Webb did nearly 140 years ago – swim long distances in open water without artificial aids.
2012 has been an exciting year for our sport. In addition to the second appearance of marathon swimming at the Olympic Games, numerous solo swimmers have done incredible things in ocean channels, lakes, bays, and rivers across the world.
Few, if any groups – online or in the flesh – are in a more knowledgeable and legitimate position to identify and celebrate these achievements than the MARATHONSWIMMERS.ORG community. At nearly 450 members, the Forum counts a sizeable chunk of the world’s currently active marathon swimmers among its members – and many others who will join their ranks in the coming years.…