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.