Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Purified Waterman

The guy arrived maybe half an hour early. I opened the door and he announced that he was from the purified water company, the waterman come to service our filtered water system. He was a young guy—early 20s or so—and looked every bit the surfer: tanned, fit, dark hair bleached by the sun, and board shorts. He carried a toolbox and a metal invoice case. “I hope I’m not too early for you,” he said.

I shrugged it off happily. The appointment window was 4 hours and I had begrudgingly assuming I’d have to wait until the last minute for someone to show up. “No, I’m actually a little shocked,” I said. “It’s sort of a cliché that the guy shows up as late as possible.”

“I’m trying to get done early,” the waterman said, sounding a little excited as he walked in the door.

I tossed off the first thing that came to mind after sizing him up. “Looking to catch the big swell coming in today?” I asked.

He looked at me with surprise. “How did you know?”

“Lucky guess.” I was looking forward to the same swell. I didn’t want to have to sit it out in my house waiting all day for the purified waterman to show up.

“So I guess you surf,” he said, sounding like a kindred spirit of a different waterman variety. Even his voice sounded a little salty for a kid.

“Yeah,” I said in pretty much the same tone though perhaps aged a bit more by the twenty years I had on him.

“Where about? I thought you might have looked a little familiar.”

“Harbor… Warm water… Carlsbad… all over really. Some buddies and I go to Mexico quite a bit.”

We ended up talking about surfing the whole time he was there. It was obvious he had the sea in his blood even though he said was a transplant from Iowa. He was crazy about the water from childhood. He had all the makings of a waterman—and it seemed a bit funny that water was his job.

“Oh, this job,” he said. “I guess I’m the all-around waterman. It was a toss-up between this or servicing swimming pools. I picked this because I think I’d have a hard time not jumping into the water all the time.”

I laughed. We talked a minute or two more and he was done.

“Well, thanks for being a valued customer… They want me to say that.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see you down at the beach a bit later.”

“Oh, yeah.”

We at Original Waterman hope to see you at the beach, and armed to take on the water with the best swim shorts, trunks, board shorts, bikinis, tees, hoodies, and other apparel. Visit us at for everything the watermen needs. Well, you’ll have to bring the purified water, though.

Watermen in the Open Sea

The idea of open water swimming is perhaps as old as mankind, but the modern age of this sport could possibly be pinpointed to the year 1810 when poet Lord Byron swam Hellespont—known today as the Dardanelles—the strait separating Eastern Europe and the Turkish coast of Asia. When one thinks of classic Watermen, Lord Byron seems an odd choice, but his notable swim began a tradition that slowly spread around the world and after 200 years came back around to Hellespont. For the past 25 years the Byron Hellespont Swim has brought open water swimmers from around Turkey and abroad. Last year the event drew more than 450 watermen—or aspiring waterman—from around the world.

There is something uniquely compelling about swimming in open water. There are no boundaries. The water is under the control of the natural elements. It is a more direct and challenging connection to the larger world. Swimming in the ocean, one can appreciate that the expanse covers the vast majority of the globe. The straight traversed by Lord Byron is the same water filling and touching every ocean in the world. True watermen recognize the fluidity of the currents around the world, the continuity of the flow.

In the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 1896, competitions in swimming were held in open water. In 2008, the Olympics included a 10km open water swim. In recent years the popularity of open water swimming has risen with the publication of best-selling books on what has come to be called wild swimming.

In addition to competitions specifically for open swimming, triathlons have also gained popularity in recent years with an open water component as a part of the program. The Iron Man competition in Hawaii began in 1978 and made watermen out of people who might otherwise have stuck to land-based competition. Though most triathlons are a combination of running, biking and swimming, many triathletes consider the swimming portion the most difficult.

Unlike air, water is a medium that demands effort and respect simply to exist within it. It takes effort just to remain still. Water rewards discipline and control, but even then allows only so much freedom. Watermen know this. They know that water is a difficult partner, but that difficulty is the means of greater accomplishment. Swimming is not an easy thing to do. It takes a great deal of energy to overcome the relentless pull of the water against you. And when the finish line may be several miles away that pull requires the greatest training and focus to overcome.

We at Original Watermen salute those who rise to the challenge of the open water and earn their salt in that challenging environment. There is little more satisfying than outlasting the forces of nature in a difficult dance to reach the finish line.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Original Watermen - the Premiere Source of the best Watermen Products

Original — the premiere source of the best board shorts, trunks, tees, hats, hoodies, jackets, and other apparel would like to take a moment to acknowledge all people who strive for singular excellence whether in the water or on land. Earning your salt begins with a passion that comes from somewhere deep within the self. I discovered this truth on a trip to visit relatives who were decidedly not watermen, but had earned their salt nonetheless. One relative in particular—a cousin about my age—gave me a lesson in humility.

If you try to associate my cousin Caleb and water, the most likely result is that you'd imagine he needs a bath. Caleb grew up on the back of a horse in back-country Idaho. He comes from a line of men for whom the term watermen might refer the guys who fill the troughs for livestock on a farm. For them most of the water they deal with comes out of their bodies, soaks into their clothes, and then sucks up dust.

We grew up in different worlds, but both of us have our heroes. Mine are the legendary big wave surfers. His are the top bull riders of the professional rodeo circuit. At a recent family reunion at the old family homestead in Idaho I finally realized just how much alike we really are. We both like great stories—the kind that you want to pass on to your children. We both like to boast about our accomplishments. The notches on my belt are meant to evoke the great watermen, his great bull riders. I have to admit that I thought my heroes were better than his—that is, until I went to my first rodeo the week of the reunion.

Caleb, it turns out, is a ranked bull rider, and at 28 something of a veteran of the rodeo circuit. He got me a seat next to the bucking chute so I could see the action up close. When I saw the crew ready the bull I was suddenly intimidated. The bull was huge and each step shook the ground, rattling my seat. I then watched Caleb climb onto the bull and strap himself to the massive beast with one hand. Was he crazy? I get nervous on a big day at Pipe or Mavericks, but for Caleb every day is a big day. The crew tightened the belt on the bull. He snorted and bucked hard against the chute, jarring the heavy steel framework. I flinched a little and hoped no one noticed. The rodeo clown caught my attention and was now in the ring right below me. There he was an unknown soul in greasepaint about to go opposite the horns of the beast, though his courage would remain largely unsung. This scene became to me the watermen equivalent to Waimea on a really big day. For Caleb and the clowns this was routine.

Bam! The chute flew open and the great fury drove itself into the arena. For a moment it wasn't my cousin on the back of that monster; it was a terminator. I glanced at the timer up on scoreboard counting down from eight. It was the longest eight seconds I could imagine. I tried to picture myself out in the water where every wave I faced was a giant, every drop-in a white-knuckle ride. For those eight seconds I rose to the occasion. I knew that I would not sink back from the giant wave. I knew I had the skill to ride my own monstrous beast. I knew I had it in me to be one of the true watermen the way Caleb is a true bull rider.

The counter reached zero and Caleb managed to leap off the bull without getting flung like a ragdoll to the ground and stomped. Two clowns screamed and waved until the bull began to wander away from Caleb, who then made his way out of the arena. From that moment on I never saw my cousin quite the same way again.

Rise to the occasion to become numbered among the true watermen. Along the way, come to and check out our complete line of Waterman swim shorts, board shorts, swimsuits, apparel and accessories.

A Waterman Named Waterman

Marcus White-Waterman is how he introduced himself. “Really?” I replied, not quite realizing until after I spoke that my incredulity could cause offense, or at least an uncomfortable moment of silence. I doubled down: “Really? That's your name?”

“Hyphenated, actually,” he said. “White and Waterman. Sometime in the past a proud woman refused to surrender her name when she married, but didn't want to ignore her husband because his name—Waterman—meant something in the community.”

White-Waterman. The name fit his appearance. He looked like a creature of a white water ocean: bleach-blonde hair, deeply tanned skin, a lean almost slippery physique. He looked to be pushing 50, but as full of life as anyone I knew half his age. In my mind I tried to guess what it was he might have done in the water; clearly he did something there and completely infused his appearance. “So you seem somehow to live your name, Waterman. Do you surf?”

“Of course, I should call myself mainly an under-waterman these days. I free dive…deep.”

I couldn't help but raise my eyebrows. I knew the world of free diving. I'd lost a close friend to free diving. We were two ordinary boys as kids, but as we grew up differences emerged. Unlike me he was a daredevil, always pushing boundaries. He was a natural waterman, seemed almost to have gills—until that one day he didn't come back. It was a strange coincidence that I would meet Marcus White-Waterman this day standing in line at the supermarket. I normally don't chat up people around me. Subconsciously I must have seen my friend in him.

“It was nice chatting with you,” he said as he grabbed his groceries. “If you're interested I live on the sea and I offer classes near the Oceanside marina.” He pulled out a scruffy looking card and handed it to me. It looked like it had been wet. “First lesson is on me.”

I smiled. Me a waterman? I knew there was so much more to the word waterman then just free diving and surfing to be called a seasoned man of the sea. However, maybe somehow my friend found me. Maybe his spirit prompted me to start speaking to a stranger in line at the supermarket. Maybe he's now another hyphen added to Mr. White-Waterman.

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