Pleasures of the sea leave the Americans cold

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The Independent US

"No more profound elemental challenge exists for an athlete than to breathe upon the face of unfathomable depths and to endure the perilous adventures of the open water." So reads a plaque in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"No more profound elemental challenge exists for an athlete than to breathe upon the face of unfathomable depths and to endure the perilous adventures of the open water." So reads a plaque in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

This Labor Day weekend, Americans in their millions will be heading for the beaches and breathing on the face of the unfathomable depths.

Well, not quite. According to the US Lifesaving Association, while annual beach attendance probably numbers more than 250 million, very few of those people will be swimming.

Americans are preoccupied with everything from the dangers of floating syringes, body parts or raw sewage to the discomfort of waves up your nose, riptides, and marine life - "from the kind with big teeth to little sea lice you can't see that get inside your bathing suit and drive you crazy".

Water amusement centres have doubled in number since 1995 and builders are installing 200,000 home swimming pools a year - up 70 per cent from a decade ago. But the call of the wild falls on deaf ears.

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