A Short List of Open Water Swimming-related Fears

I was thinking about the fears that hinder open water swimmers or potential open water swimmers. It always amazes me how many non-swimmers (or even swimmers) have a seemingly visceral fear of even the idea of swimming over deep water, swimming in the dark or imagining themselves over a deep section of sea with potential movement under them. Here’s a provisional list of relevant fears. I’ve excluded basic fear of water, it seems inappropriate for open water swimmers.
  • Autophobia is a fear of being alone. (One of the aspects I most like about open water swimming is being alone, away from people and even from land).
  • Bathophobia is a fear of depths or deep things, (for swimmers who dislike swimming over deep water).
  • Cryophobia (or Frigophobia or Cheimatophobia) is a fear of cold, cold weather or cold things. Also known as Psychophobia. I think there’s a biological component to this, as most people unacclimatised to really cold water will have physical fear response in anticipation.
  • Cnidophobia is a fear of stings. Surprisingly, there is no specific clinical phobia of jellyfish.
  • Dishabiliophobia is fear of undressing in front of someone. Probably relevant when you changing to swim, by the side of the road in Ireland, in winter.
  • Eleutherophobia is a fear of freedom. Seriously, are we ever as free as when we are open water swimming?
  • Eosophobia is fear of dawn or daylight. A bit difficult for an overnight swim should you suffer from this.
  • Francophobia or Gallophobia is a fear of France or French things. That’s the English Channel out then for those sufferers.
  • Galeophobia or Selachophobia is a fear of sharks.
  • Ichthyophobia is a fear of fish.
  • Kymophobia or Cymophobia is a fear of waves.
  • Limnophobia is a fear of lakes.
  • Megalophobia is a fear of large things and Mycrophobia is a fear of small things. Both are prevalent in the sea.
  • Myctophobia / Nyctophobia / Scotophobia / Achluophobia / Lygophobia: Fear of the dark or darkness. That’s a whole lot of fear right there.
  • Ostraconophobia is a fear of shellfish.
  • Ornithophobia is a fear of birds.
  • Osmophobia is a fear of smells or odours.
  • Thalassophobia is a fear of the sea.
  • I embrace Megalohydrothalassophobia  as a fear of the unknown and-or large objects underwater, a useful word for many people, but unlike the others not a medically recognised phobia or even a recognised word, yet. But I think the past few years on LoneSwimmer have helped its cause.
About these ads

21 thoughts on “A Short List of Open Water Swimming-related Fears

  1. Pingback: The Abyss | LoneSwimmer

  2. I think the fear people feel went swimming over dark/deep water is very similar to that of the night (especially before modern era of lighting). The unknown and the unseen, so your imagination runs wild. Over the holidays my 10 year old daughter swam across a bay and she still talks of the moment when she couldn’t see the bottom, just darkness below, so she sensibly stopped looking underwater!

    • lol – you just reminded me of swimming across Loch Oich in Scotland a couple of years ago. The water was so peaty that your hand disappeared into the dark every stroke. We adopted the same tactic as your daughter in case there was a Loch Oich monster beneath….

  3. Pingback: He Who Dares Swims…. | Nothing Great Is Easy

  4. Does anyone have a fear of going around the buoy–like it is some invisible line/barrier to something that will absolutely get you on the other side of the buoy and the other 400 meters swimming out to it doesn’t count [preteritusboyaphobia]? I get that one when I’m swimming alone. Also, by far my biggest fear in the ocean is jelly fish; I’d much rather encounter a shark!

  5. Crikey – I was never afraid of corpses until I read that comment but I am now! So far no-one has mentioned eels or leeches or loathsome wriggling swimming worms which I’ve seen near our jetty, or nasty black brittle starfish which are like underwater spiders and climb up seaweed and get ready to grab onto you, or sea lice or huge pike with massively sharp teeth which lurk in fresh water, just waiting…

    • Does anyone have a fear of going around the buoy–like it is some invisible line/barrier to something that will absolutely get you on the other side of the buoy and the other 400 meters swimming out to it doesn’t count [preteritusboyaphobia]? I get that one when I’m swimming alone. Also, by far my biggest fear in the ocean is jelly fish; I’d much rather encounter a shark!

  6. I can’t believe that there’s no medical term for a fear of jelllyfish, possibly my biggest fear in the sea! Sticks/branches and corpses scare me in freshwater…

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s