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Swimtheswell is the Alias. Swell Defines the Man.

Swimtheswell is the Alias. Swell Defines the Man.

Meet Swimtheswell. The guy with the coolest social handle ever, the biggest heart, and a watertight camera housing under his arm.

Swimtheswell was once Jonathan, a former triathlete who thrived in the open seas. His coach at the time taught the team to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations, swimming in big surf, since after all, what better training than staying afloat in the most challenging conditions. Eventually the sun set on triathalons and Jonathan set his sight on sunrises. Well, not at first. Being an outdoor enthusiast, Jonathan pursued other passions such as hiking, cycling and barbeque food. Then the COVID pandemic surged and we were all forced indoors. We shifted paradigms, took up cooking, amped up our reading habits, and revisited puzzling. Jonathan, like many of us, was now searching for an outlet to get off the couch and survive COVID captivity. Remember those days?

Jonathan landed on photography as his avenue to get out of the house and still maintain responsible social distancing. No, he’s not anti-social at all. In fact, he’s is an absolute pleasure to share a cold morning coffee with and commiserate about the waves, weather, barbeque cuisine, and smiles from his surfer hommies. At first Jonathan focused on sunrise photography as his niche, because like so many on the 1A seacoast, there’s an incredible canvas to be painted every morning. Pre-dawn sessions often led him to 1A beaches where he discovered the faithful 4/5 surfers braving the waves and colossal New England water temperatures. He found himself frequently distracted from his photographic pursuits by these hearty souls playing in the surf. Like a good business person, Jonathan quickly recognized a need not being met – No one was capturing these athletes playing, laughing, communing and pushing the limits of their joy every day, all year. Sure, there were iphone photographers out on their morning beach strolls who couldn’t resist the temptation of catching a surfer the moment they generate speed from a solid bottom turn, shoot up the wave face, and pull off the epic cutback. But no one was crazy enough to seesaw in the 40 degree ocean with fiberglass spears flying by you. He was.

With a little research on camera housings and a swimming background, Jonathan transformed into Swimtheswell, and seized the curiosity of surfers skimming down the pitch, brushing his bobbing head. He had a tattered old piece of neoprene from his triathalon days, some worn out booties, and not a lick of protection. Did he care? Nope! He was loving every moment of being out in the ocean again, making new friends, occasionally thanking his former coaches for the epic (aka punishing) days of training in the big surf, open water conditions.

Today Swimtheswell is a staple amongst local surfers and can be found every dawn getting bounced about by the Atlantic swell. What’s the reward from early alarms, frigid winter mornings in the dark, numb hands, and icicles on the face? Worthy question that this author is asking himself as well. He’s not seeking commercial gain, formal accolades, or publication. Swimtheswell’s only reward is meeting the 1A surf community, connecting fellow surfers from up and down the coast (and afar), and immortalizing the grace and elegance of these passionate people. His words sum it up perfectly…“It fulfills me watching the authenticity of surfers. As I patiently wait in the ocean with my friends, you can clearly see their focus. They’re in the zone and nothing else is on their mind but catching the next ride. It’s refreshing to witness the lack of ego out there. It’s just them, the solitude, the water, and the wave.”

Swimtheswell embodies the mission of the 1A brand. He’s out there playing every day, giving thanks for the ocean, waves, and sand in his toes. He’s truly celebrating his play on 1A. And for that, Jonathan is truly one of the 1A Coastal Legends. Be sure to check him out on Instagram at, you guessed it, @swimtheswell. I might also point out at this juncture that Jonathan is probably embarrassed as hell by this story. He has no interest in fame, fortune or followers. He simply wants recommendations for good brisket.

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