I write this out of my love for Open Water Swimming.
If you do not already know.....I want to make something very clear. My Lake Tahoe double crossing (swim? event? stunt?) and my (swim? event? stunt?) down the Sacramento River were NOT “marathon” swims. I am including ALL the media in this email that either has covered or will be covering future swims so that it will be very clear there is a difference between what I do and marathon swimming. During a recent interview, I was asked to explain the difference between what I call my “adventure swims” and a “marathon swim.” I paused and thought about it. Because it was important to me give an accurate comparison and true definition of marathon swimming, I told him I would forward on my answer.
After extensive research online for a definition that describes what traditional marathon swimming is. I couldn’t find a clear definition, so I did my best to describe it in my own words. Here is what I will send him:
“Marathon swimming is the act of swimming long distances in the open water (oceans, lakes, rivers) without the use of any aid. There are ongoing discussions revolving around different aspects covered under Marathon Swimming, but I believe everyone close to the open water community is in agreement that Marathon Swimming is done in its purest form, which means wearing only a porous swim suit, goggles and a cap. It is done over a long distance in the open water with no outside artificial assistance including, but not limited to, wetsuits. The swimmer may not exit the water or hold onto any support boat for the entire duration. It is one of the last forms of pure athleticism. It is done solely with the mind and body exposed to all the elements".
With that being said, my Lake Tahoe double crossing and my Sacramento River swim were both WETSUIT ASSISTED. I swam for 25 and 31 hours with the support of a wetsuit. It aided me with warmth, floatation, and a number of other things. During these swims I did not exit the water or touch any support boat. This has been made very clear, but I wanted to reiterate it again in case some did not know already. With that being said I train very hard for what I have done and what I will do. I spend up to 25 hours in the pool and open water a week. I wake at 4am and swim till 7am. I then spend my lunch in the pool. I spend my weekends in the open water doing solo non wetsuit swims of up to 8 hours. Most of the time I am self supported. I have done many overnight training swims where I spend 12 hours in the pool preparing mentally and physically. When I do long wetsuit swims I am confined to a wetsuit for 20, 25, 30 hours or more. It is not comfortable. I have an amazing crew that has been with me on most of my adventures. They have seen the pain, the tears, and the joy. They are all part of my journey and I am very blessed. Some have stated what I have done equates to a stunt and is not swimming. I ask you to come along on one of my long wetsuit swims. Watch my arms and legs go round and round. Watch me suffer beyond belief. If you think it is easy to be confined to a wetsuit for 20, 25, an 30 hours you have no idea.
There is a reason that I have finally decided to send this message is it is my hope that the few people who continue to spend their time and energy criticizing me for what I love to do and how I go about doing it, will instead decide to spend their time focusing on bring the world together not tearing it apart. Attacking me does little to define, promote and support the great sport of marathon swimming. Supporting others - even if they do not share the exact same approach – no doubt will only do good in promoting our shared love for the open water and define the pinnacle of swimming long distances by the time honored tradition of marathon swimming. I think most people in the world understand that there are benefits to swimming in a wetsuit (warmth, speed, floatation) just like there are benefits to being towed into a large wave or being roped into a climb. Deciding to accept this assistance should not take away from the accomplishment in any way. No it is not done by the highest standard but a different form of swimming. Some have discounted my swims as not swimming at all. I find this remarkably elitist. I’ve received many emails from swimmers that have done, or are planning on doing wetsuit assisted long distance swims. Because of the negativity that has been expressed to me, they are fearful of being attacked as I have. I cannot tell you how deeply sad this makes me. I have also been forwarded emails written by these people that have not been public and I can tell you most would be shocked at the, for lack of a better word - "meanness" that has been written.
I may have made some mistakes along the way, but the last thing I ever wanted to do is to hurt anything or anyone, or most especially the sport of marathon swimming. I truly apologize if I have communicated anything incorrectly or if something that I said was misconstrued. My goal has always been to show the world my love and respect for swimming, test myself mentally, physically and spiritually and above everything else - support and respect others. I am not the fastest, first or the best at what I do. I JUST LOVE SWIMMING, plain and simple. I swim to support causes and have raised money for organizations with 100% of the proceeds going directly to those organizations. I make my swims public to raise money and promote causes. I have been very successful in doing so. Again I have been critized for this. I am very proud of the fundraising support that I have done for Alliance for Smiles and Buena Vista Auxiliary. I also look forward to supporting and the Sierra Club during my upcoming swim. I do it to help others. I do it to help protect our enviroment.
Along the way I have gained many amazing sponsors that support what I do. I could not do the things I do without them. Again, these people have critized me for this. To be very honest without their support I would not be able to afford to do the things I do. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
There are many in the Marathon Swimming world that have stepped up and supported me. They have shown me the world of Marathon Swimming as well as shown respect. They have been a positive influence. I recommend that those that are trying to be the leaders take a lesson from these people. Through positive leadership amazing things can happen. When you alienate people you only bring down the thing you are trying to protect.
The Marathon community is fairly small. There is a reason for this. It is tough! It takes an extreme amount of preparation and training. Marathon swimmers are a breed apart. To show the world this amazing sport you must not be AGAINST others, but FOR others, even if it is not done by Marathon Swimming standards. It must be out of respect and creating a positive and influential path that leads to the pinnacle of long distance swimming - Marathon Swimming. Not everyone will get there, but supporting everyone will no doubt increase the visibility of the highest standard that is Marathon Swimming. Rather than bring people down, pump up the thing you love. Show the world the magic of swimming long distances in nothing but a suit and goggles. But don’t criticize others for their accomplishments in the process. Bring people together, do not split them apart. What a few are doing is creating elitism, when they should be promoting an elite form of swimming. You do this through positive actions, not constant attacks and alienation.
To those who have supported me from the world of Marathon Swimming – I THANK YOU. The love you have shown me is truly incredible and I feel extremely blessed.
To those that continute to focus on critizing me, please understand that I have no problem calling my Adventure Swims, when done in a wetsuit, A WETSUIT ASSISTED SWIM. They are!!! If this is your prefered classification, that is fine...Westsuit Assisted Swim it is!! Are we done yet? However, I am an Adventure Swimmer weather I do it in a wetsuit or not. I design, create and and do swims for the pure adventure of it. My goal is to live life as much as I can at water level. This is what makes me happy. I compare myself to no one. I am my own person and swimmer. I work hard at what I do to better myself.
So it is time to move on... I strongly believe that a new direction must created. Because this all started from an article titled "WHATS WRONG WITH MARATHON SWIMMING" I believe it is time for a article to be written titled "WHAT IS SO RIGHT WITH MARATHON SWIMMING" This will do so much more for the sport. I will be happy to provide an outline if some direction is needed because to me there are so many amazing things to be told about this sport and community. There are so many accomplishments and so many aspect that truly make this one of the last pure sports. I look forward to reading it, promoting it and learning from it. However, there are a few that have created mediums that are extremely positive. They have created venues to help promote Marathon Swimming. A place to discuss and learn. Others have created blogs and webpages that teach through positivity. Pretty awesome.... These are the true leaders. Not those that bring individuals and other organization down for how they choose to do things.
I shall continue to do what I do - Adventure Swimming - and that includes doing long WETSUIT ASSISTED swims as well as follow the time tradition ways of Marathon Swimming. I am proud of both. There is a difference, but there is one common thread. We all love swimming. I ask that your respect this. I will continue to go longer and longer for myself and for those that want to follow along on my adventures. I work extremely hard preparing and doing the things I do. These people will never take that away from me. Wetsuit or Not.
Please understand when I accomplish something, wetsuit assisted, and someone does it by Marathon Swimming Standards I will be the first to be there to congratulate them. My greatest thrill is to follow the accomplishments of others.
I have reached out many times to those that continue to attack me with no response. I bet that if we sat down together or went for a swim we would probably be friends.
To those that have attacked me, please accept this as an open invitation to have a beer, go for a swim or come to swim camp. Love is truly what makes things stronger. Long Live Marathon Swimming!!! And Long Live Wetsuit Assisted Swimming!!!! Here is my email firstname.lastname@example.org
The surprising thing that has come from my swims is that it has created a dialog which I chose to think of as a positive step towards unifying our sport. Part of this unification is teaching the world about Marathon Swimming and part is accepting others. Leaders should be chosen for their ability to bring people together, not their ability to push them apart. Remember - Love who you are and the way you do it. Respect everyone along the way and happiness will be found.
Lets work together to show THE WORLD, not just the Marathon community, the highest level of open water swimming. And along the way respect and support others.
Thank you for reading this.
Hug a swimmer today even if they are in a wetsuit.
Jamie Patrick - ADVENTURE SWIMMER
Questions or comments can be sent to email@example.com