Meet Spencer Baum: Odyssey Open Water Swimmer Profile
“Open water swimming feels very natural to me. I love the feeling of being free in the water; I can go anywhere I want without being restricted by lane lines and walls.” -- Spencer Baum
Spencer Baum has been swimming competitively for the past seven years and has spent a good portion of his life in the water. When trying open water swimming for the first time, he was hooked. “Coming out of the cold bay water after doing a mile swim feels like a much more substantial accomplishment than doing a mile in a pool,” says Spencer. “Not only that, but open water presents a completely different challenge than pool swimming, and it's much more rewarding once you master it, because you feel free,” Spencer continues.
We recently interviewed Spencer to learn more about why he loves open water swimming, his goals as an athlete, tips for fellow swimmers, and more.
Out of the Water
When he’s not in the water, Spencer is studying, working on homework, and attending classes in high school. Spencer also has technical know-how and is a budding entrepreneur who builds and sells custom gaming computers.
Why Swim with Odyssey Open Water Swimming?
Spencer doesn’t have any trouble finding opportunities to swim, whether in a pool or the open. But Odyssey offers him something he doesn’t find everywhere he goes -- a friendly and supportive community.
“I know that wherever I swim, I would be fast enough, but I swim with Odyssey Open Water Swimming because of the other people in the club. Everyone who I have met and who I know in the club is very kind, super friendly and outstandingly accepting.”
Preparing for a Swim
Spencer has developed a routine he sticks to when joining Odyssey for a swim in the open water. Before a swim, Spencer talks to the other swimmers who have already arrived, put on glide/vaseline to avoid chafing, put on his wetsuit and then grab a towel. When the swim is over, Spencer chugs some chocolate milk and wraps himself in a blanket for the ride home. Once home, Spencer takes a warm shower and then spends some time with a good book or his phone.
Open Water Swimming Tips from Spencer Baum
Spencer shares two tips for fellow open water swimmers:
“Many swimmers who come from pool swimming are focused on breathing as little as possible. This is not the same in the open water. You want to breathe as much as possible, every 2-3 strokes is best.”
Don’t feel pressured into doing more than you want or can.
“It's ok just to get in, swim a quarter or half a mile and get out again and doing that is better than not going at all.”
Future Goals for Spencer
Asked what he still wants to accomplish, Spencer says that he wants to be first in an open water race. “I've been in the top 5 a few times but I've never gotten first (there's always someone out there faster than you),” Spencer says. Spencer also wants to finish a mile in under 18 minutes in a pool, which open water swimming has helped him accomplish. “I already dropped over a minute on my swim this season!”
Reflecting on his best swims, Spencer says that the Tahoe Sharkfest swim and the Odyssey Alcatraz swim were his most memorable.
“I jumped off the boat and immediately felt at home in the bay water. I took off ahead of the pack and led the group of 50 swimmers back to the beach. Alone, with a kayaker next to me and the rest of the swimmers trailing behind, I realized that I had found the one thing that I was both really good at and that I loved.”
Asked what he’d like to tell fellow swimmers, Spencer says:
“You guys are awesome! Thanks for coming to the swims every week with your cheerful attitudes and big smiles. Keep on pushing through that cold water!”
Thank you to Spencer for joining us on our swims and for bringing his positive attitude and kindness to our group of swimmers. Come and swim along with us at an upcoming Berkeley swim. Learn more about our weekly swims and sign up here.