Under the water. With the water. But never against the water.

October 09, 2017

“In the open water, distances are notional. There are no straight lines, and conditions are constantly changing.”

The challenges swimmers face when they come to open water is not just the current, the temperature or the weather. “Not having a wall, and knowing there’s nothing to grab onto – that’s a huge difference. That expansive feeling can be very mentally challenging.”

Thousands of hours in the Irish Sea have given open water swimmer Peter Conway a distinct perspective on swimming and life.

The feeling of being a tiny cog in a much larger machine is what Peter finds so compelling about open water. “Once you go through the initial shock of the cold water, there’s an exhilaration, then a peace and quiet that comes with being able to swim and swim without any boundaries.”

You can’t exercise control over the sea. “When you’re in the middle of it, the overriding control is held by the sea. You can argue with it a little bit, but if you get into a big argument, there’s only going to be one winner.”

As an experienced sea swimmer, Peter enjoys the thrill of the elements. “I love swimming in rough water or high tides. There’s a real buzz, it can be exhilarating to be out in the midst of the big waves.”

As Peter says, the open water lets him empty his thoughts and get away from whatever’s happening on land. “The water allows me to escape. If something is bothering you before you get in, you can park it, and when you get out you might have a different perspective. At the same time, I can set myself goals when I swim. The Water brings order to my life.”

Me and the Water.

Peter Conway, Open Water Swimmer