Featured,  View from the Water

What open water swimming and producing a magazine have in common

While we use the word ‘solo’ to describe a marathon swim that isn’t done as part of a relay, I’ve never met a swimmer that pretends marathon swimming isn’t a team sport. The same is true in producing a magazine. While you see my picture when you open the editorial page, there’s a full team of people behind making it happen, from our contributors to the proof reader and the design and production team.
This week is deadline week. The June/July 2015 issue of the magazine will be sent to the printer on 28 May – and I won’t be around to make sure it happens. For the first time since I launched the magazine I will be away when the magazine goes to press; I will instead be at BestFest in Mallorca.
I am leaving finishing off this issue in the capable hands of Jonathan Cowie and the designers at Mash Media. I don’t have any doubt about their ability to get the job done. They will most likely do a better job without me getting in the way, but I can’t help feeling a little nervous that I won’t see the final product before it goes to print.
In the same way, I sometimes get anxious when I can’t see the end during a long swim in open water. From water level, the horizon is only a few hundred metres away. If your goggles have fogged a bit or if there are waves, what you can see will be even more restricted. It can be hard to know where you are and where you are going. In some events there will be marker buoys to help you find the way but in others you are dependent on the support of someone else – often someone in a kayak or boat who not only has to navigate but also make sure you eat and drink properly. If necessary, your supporters may have to take the decision to stop the swim or call for assistance.
As the swimmer, all you can really do is swim. You have to put your trust in your support team and allow them to guide you and to feed you according to your pre-agreed plan – or even change the plan if they judge that’s the best thing to do. It’s no point worrying whether they are taking the right way or not, or straining your neck to get a few extra inches above the water to try and check the route. A person in a boat can see three or four times further than someone in the water. They can also look all the time rather than in hurried glances. They have the overview, you will just see snapshots.
While I’m away I may be able to see a few snapshots of the magazine but I won’t be able to see the whole thing. Even for the bits I do see, I have learnt that some people have a much better eye for design than me and see things on the printed page that I can’t, and I’ve realised it’s usually best to trust their judgement on that too.
This week’s blog is therefore really an extended thank you to the teams that make it possible for me to swim and to produce a magazine about open water swimming. The latter includes you, our readers, for believing in what we do, and our advertisers, who help keep your subscription costs down.
Take a moment this week to thank the team that makes your swimming possible too.
Image: swimming is a team sport (c) Tom Savage (from Ellen Macarthur Solent Swim)