Open Water Swimming: An Adventure, Not Just a Workout

Bill Atkinson and Don Walsh have more experience in open water than most. Both are former Navy Seals who have trained extensively in open water swimming. More than that, each of them shares a love of the ocean and a reverence for the open sea.

Don and Bill offer training through the Elemental Edge Open Water Swim Clinic that helps athletes improve their swim, and also to help teams improve their group dynamic. Their power to motivate is what really sets them apart, and that power comes from a passion for what they do. To understand that passion, you need only pay attention to how they talk about the open water and what it means to each of them. Here are some of their words of wisdom:

Bill Atkinson’s Thoughts on the Adventure of Open Water Swimming

I have been swimming most of my life, and it really is so much more than a workout. The open sea is an invitation to adventure. Donning my swim cap and goggles, I accept the invitation and venture into the open water. To my knees, then my waist. I watch and time my movements, careful to get past each wave before it breaks.

I dive in completely before I even reach chest deep, still moving. I swim through the rollers and occasional rogue breaker, sometimes digging into the bottom with my hands to avoid being pushed back to shore. I enjoy the rush of excitement as I test my skill against the power of the open sea.

Now I’m beyond the break. The water is clear and the sun bright. Vegetation on the bottom. Fish. Rock formations. Birds overhead, above the water and land. I swim, long and narrow, gliding with little effort. I roll to breathe. I look around, in the air and the water. In open water, I’m suspended in animation all around me. I am free. I swim.

Don Walsh on the Freedom of the Open Water

What does swimming in open water mean to me?

Freedom, challenging the elements, being able to sight my course. Freedom means that I’m able to swim without walls, which means that I don’t have to turn and go in the opposite direction every 25 yards. I can get into my stroke rhythm, and I don’t have to change for any distance.

Challenging the elements means that conditions can change during my swim, forcing me to deal with waves, currents, choppy water, wind, rain, fog and the darkness of night. Believe me, I’ve swum in all of these varying conditions.

Without all the visual feedback in the pool–the lane lines, stripes on the bottom and on the walls–I have to sight my own course. This means feeling my body ride-up on the crest of each wave in order to get the best possible view at sea level.

The open water is open to all, and the ocean never closes. She has no hours of operation, no rules but her own. I am free to swim whenever the mood strikes, no matter the time of year or the time of day. I can swim whenever the mood strikes, testing the boundaries of my abilities against the strength of nature. There is no greater challenge or reward than that.

If you need the motivation to push past what you think is your best, either personally or for your team, Don and Bill know you’ll learn more at their 2018 Open Water Swim Clinic. They are committed to helping athletes to improve their game, individuals to improve their leadership skills, or teams to improve their dynamic: their Elemental Edge Training will build a stronger you.


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About Elemental Edge Training

Founded by former Navy SEAL Bill Atkinson, Elemental Edge Training offers highly organized, fast-paced half, full and three day workshops that enhance your ability to lead, follow, communicate and participate as an individual and on a team. Lectures, discussions and practicals, and a rapid fire “Plan-brief-execute-debrief” format hammer home why you’re here and what you must change to improve your personal and professional life. We also teach you a Navy SEAL mindset approach that’s a game changer for you and your team and includes direct and immediate feedback, along with “report card” to take home round out the experience, give pause for reflection, and inspire further change.

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