Should rash guards / swim shirts / full body suits (not wetsuits) be permitted?

edited October 2012 in General Discussion
I'd like to discuss expanding where applicable current rules to accommodate more protective (from the sun) swimsuits. My own view is that rash guards should be permitted for sun protection so long as they do not provide significant assistance otherwise. Accordingly, I think that both male and female swimmers should be permitted to wear, in one or two pieces, a costume covering in a single layer the swimmer's full torso, such as a bikini bottom and a sleeveless rash guard. I'm interested in what others think about this and how seriously those who serve / have served on sanctioning bodies have considered the question. At least three forum members over in the sunscreen thread mentioned using or trying to use rash guards. It is obvious that not every swimmer on every swim would choose more suit, rather than less. But should suits that offer more sun protection even be permitted?
I'm not very popular around here; but I'm huge in Edinburgh!

Comments

  • IMHO, not for a sanctioned marathon swim. Allowing greater coverage puts pressure on officials and observers to know the differences of every kind of fabric and brand of swim wear/aid out there. They have enough to do.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • In 1875 Capt Webb stepped into the Channel with no protective or buoyancy covering. Part of the interest for me in our sport is in the continuity we strive for with Capt. Webb, the enduring and unchanging rules. It is in fact one of the primary reasons Evan and I started the site, to celebrate marathon swimming. It seems there are many new types of swims arising. This is fine, and more power to them. They are not however marathon swims according to the rules and tradition. What is the difference between the sun and the cold (says me who lives in the cold and doesn't see much sun)? The cumulative argument doesn't wash with me, if it is of a great concern, then it's not the sport to choose. We know the risks, we play the game. I doubt this will ever change and I hope it doesn't.
  • edited May 2012
    Generations of marathon swimmers have found a way to get by without rash guards. The definitive history of our sport is titled Wind, Waves and Sunburn. Sun is part of the game.

    How do you distinguish reliably between a rash guard that does and does not "provide significant assistance otherwise"? Could I wear my old full-body Blueseventy Nero Comp (which clearly provides speed assistance) and call it a "rash guard"?

    However... (at the risk of opening a can of worms...), the more complicated issue going forward is likely to be jellyfish-protective suits, not sun-protective suits. The rules and traditions of our sport developed in places where jellyfish are, at most, a mild nuisance. But people are now taking to the waters in regions where jellyfish are both more populous and more toxic.

    And, as we all know, several high-profile swims last year were derailed by jellyfish. Another high-profile (and successful) swim was accomplished with the aid of a non-traditional costume. Several high-profile swims this coming season will be attempted with non-traditional costumes, designed to protect against jellyfish.

    How should these swims be viewed? Are they marathon swims or assisted swims? Is it fair to hold swimmers in high-density man-o-war / box jellyfish regions to the same standard as English Channel swimmers?

    Unfortunately, I'm afraid simple answers may prove unsatisfactory...
  • edited May 2012
    Interesting. Do you guys also advocate using the same, cap, goggles, swimsuit material and navigation equipment that Webb used? How about sunscreen? No sunscreen for evmo - right, evmo? Let's face it, the rules haven't kept us to Webb's standard. They just keep us to the rules themselves, which allow us to move away from Webb's standard in ways that may not have occurred to those who wrote the rules. Besides, as evmo pointed out, the sport has expanded and we do now what Webb did not. Webb didn't swim through a sea of jellies. He also didn't do a triple or swim Molokai. How do you guys feel about Penny Palfrey's Cayman swim? Full suit slacker, right? Of course not!
    I'm not very popular around here; but I'm huge in Edinburgh!
  • @Walter, we live in an era where suits designed specifically to add speed have infected the sport of swimming to the point where thousands of people now have a drawer full of illegal suits.

    For the most part, tradition has immunized the world of marathon swimming from this disease due to the rather strict adhesion well established rules governing conduct and attire.

    I'm OK with never attempting a swim that I would feel compelled to don a wetsuit, rash guard, shark shield, fins, etc... to complete. There is plenty of other H2O out there to keep me occupied for this lifetime.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • edited May 2012
    There are an infinite number of trivial discrepancies between Webb's swim and modern swims. So what? Anything goes, then? Or just rash guards?

    I'll ask again: How do you reliably distinguish between a rash guard that improves speed, and one that does not? Basically, it comes down to the absorbency of the fabric, and tightness of fit, right? You really want governing bodies and volunteer observers to have to make this judgment, on every single swim?

    No such ambiguity about sunscreen, as far as I know.

    When you, Walter, start your own marathon swim organization, perhaps you can make a rule allowing rash guards - just as the Farallon folks allow neo caps, and the Cook Strait allows shark breaks. It will be interesting to see how you write the section in your observer handbook about acceptable vs. non-acceptable rash guards.
  • I'm not really sure why you, evmo, think it will be so difficult to administer the rule change I proposed. The SBCSA already has this standard for women. Since you're on the board, you can just tell us how difficult it is to administer. Others may want more, but what I've advocated is making the SBCSA's women's standard (or one like it) universal so that all swimmers can cover their backs if they choose.

    I used the example of a sleeveless rash guard and bikini bottom because that's what comes to my mind when I think of what the current women's two-piece standard would amount to for a man. But the SBCSA rule doesn't use the phrase and doesn't need to. The judgments required regarding materials, buoyancy or thermal assistance are the same as those already potentially in play within the current rules for women.
    I'm not very popular around here; but I'm huge in Edinburgh!
  • If this is going to turn into an "equal coverage for both sexes" debate, I'm going on record as in support of the "male" standard for all.
    There was a thread recently on the USMS forums by a bitter male swimmer looking for support (ha... support!) from the authorities to wear a woman's tech suit.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • But what will you do about your arms and legs, Walter?

    Speaking in an unofficial capacity, my understanding is that the SBCSA guidelines on swimwear are modeled after (if not directly copied from) current USMS and USA-S guidelines. Current USMS/USA-S guidelines do not allow men to wear women's swimwear.

    But you raise an interesting question: Perhaps marathon swimming governing bodies should break with pool swimming rules and allow men to wear women's suits!

    Actually, I think I'd go the other way. If marathon swimming is going to break from pool swimming on swimwear rules, perhaps we should just ban tech suits altogether. No jammers for guys (a la NYC Swim), open backs for women, etc.
  • I'm just glad we are not arguing about wetsuits. >:)
  • The difference between the sun and the cold (as @loneswimmer asked) is that cold won't give you cancer.

    The Rottnest channel swim already allows rash guards, probably because many Aussies are descendents of pasty white folk and burn to a crisp at the slightest exposure to the sun (I am one of them). There is much more awareness of the need for sun protection in Australia as a result, so the idea of *not* allowing sun protection would meet much more resistance there.

    I do know that there is a substantial difference in the risk of sun burn (for me) when in Australia than compared to San Francisco (where I now live). E.g. I can swim without sunprotection in SF for an hour without risk of anything more than a light tan, whereas doing that at Cottesloe beach would be a recipe for a lobster look, so I do understand why the Australian perspective on sun protectionis not universal.

    Avoiding sun burn is however actually one of my big concerns for my upcoming 10km swim in Sydney (I ended up with horrible sun after doing the Rottnest Channel relay last year). I've contemplated using a rash guard, but the one I tried ballooned out to be a very effective sea anchor in the water despite being crazily tight when dry (btw if anyone has recommendations on that front I'll take them).

    Personally I would *love* to see something like a tri-suit approved for open water events. AFAIK the FINA rules for OWS actually allow shoulder to knee coverage for male swimmers however the no fastener rules still apply so whichever suits have been approved probably still require silly gymnastics too get into and may or may not have any improved sun protection (e.g. open backs). I have still not managed to see any of the OW suits listed in the FINA site on any of the manufacturers web sites, so am wondering if they are only available to the sponsored athletes.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • @dc_in_sf ...Desitin
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • edited May 2012
    dc_in_sf said:

    The Rottnest channel swim already allows rash guards, probably because many Aussies are descendents of pasty white folk...so the idea of *not* allowing sun protection would meet much more resistance there.

    I think that's where this debate is headed, ultimately: A combination of universal rules and local rules, i.e.:

    - We all agree that neoprene may not be used in a marathon swim (with the exception of neo caps on Farallon swims)
    - We all agree that swimmers may not have supportive contact with people or watercraft during a swim (with the exception of dangerous shark approaches in the Cook Strait, or lightning during MIMS)
    - etc., etc.

    And when Walter starts his own organization he is free to make local exceptions as he sees fit, including for men who want to wear women's swimwear.
  • @dc_in_sf
    I have your South Head swim bookmarked on my computer and it scares the ^%#^ out of me! Good luck! Do some backstroke to even out the tan.
    I asked my mum to send over (from Australia) some of the neon zinc for me to use in the Key West swim a few years ago and she said it didn't come in "big enough tubes" :)) I ended up getting a horrendous burn in some body parts due to suit ride-up...a friend had a theory that maybe having a monkey ride on his back holding a parasol might work.
    I wonder if the different suit rules for Rottnest have anything to do with potential litigation? I know school kids can't go outside at all over there now without wide brimmed hats on.
  • @dc_in_sf

    Yes, there have been changes in swimming, Webb didn't have nutritional understanding and GPS, the two biggest changes. But he still only had his arms and legs for propulsion, and body for buoyancy.

    We all understand the cumulative oncological effects of sun. That's why I said: "The cumulative argument doesn't wash with me, if it is of a great concern, then it's not the sport to choose."

    I put it in the personal responsibility category. If it is of great concern, then open water swimming isn't the best choice of activity. Any more than it would be if you have a great fear of drowning.

    @Walter, I think it's good though that the question is aired and we get a chance to talk about it at least.
  • Wearing neoprene or a speed suit is cheating at swimming. I'm against anything that artificially makes you swim faster.

    I'm in favor of technology that protects the swimmer from the environment: goggles, earplugs, sunscreen, ibuprofen, clothing or creams that protect against chaffing, UV rays or jellyfish. I'm also in favor of using the best science has to offer for nutrition, safety and navigation. Those things are assistance in the literal sense, but they don't diminish the feat of swimming.

    I'm not a fan of deliberately adding bioprene. I like it better than I like neoprene, but it's a close call. According the BMI charts, a 6'0" person over 185 lbs or a 5'5" person over 150 lbs is overweight. The obesity range starts at 215 or 180, respectively. It's hard to get excited about that as the gold standard for a sport.

    If technology existed to replace bioprene without making you faster, I'd be 100% in favor. In that case, I'd also agree with a gold star or a separate category for "Cold Tolerance Swimming" for people whose sport combines swimming and exposure to the elements.
  • @loneswimmer

    Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world, a function of the demographics of the country (a high percentage are descendents of folks from the Ireland and the UK), environmental (lots of sun, ozone hole) and cultural (love of outdoor activities).

    The government has been running campaigns like slip, slop, slap since the 70's/80's (I'm sure @ChickenoSea remembers them) in an effort to educate and change behaviours, and it has had some effect. Australians as a population are slowly becoming more sun smart; they still enjoy the same activities but are more conscious about the need for adequate protection (though there are still plenty of folk who believe they are invulnerable).

    All of this basically re-inforcing my earlier point, the Australian perspective (or at least my perspective as a result of growing up in Australia) is very skewed towards being sun smart. I can understand though how this is not so much of a concern in other locations; if I ever attempt the EC (and that is an enormously large if - I have endless respect for the folk on this forum who have achieved some amazing things that I can only dream of at this point) I don't think concern about sunburn would rank as high as it would for say the shorter Rottnest Channel (which I hope to do next year). I definitely have sympathy for @evmo 's idea that some of this becomes an exemption based on local conditions.

    I can appreciate the desire to brook no dilution of the sport - there is a spectrum and at one end is the guy in the electrically heated dry suit, snorkel and flippers and the other is the traditional english channel swimmer. The traditional swimmer has already made several compromises - the use of goggle, a swim cap, and there is obviously a concern that each additional compromise brings us closer to the drysuit/flippers side of things.

    Personally I fall on the "no wetsuit" side of the divide, even though my current cold water tolerance is not currently sufficient for me to attempt some swims I would like to do. The difference (as I see it) between sun protection and cold water protection is that I can train for cold water acclimation whereas given my genetics I am always going to be a pasty white guy with a propensity for turning into a lobster. I would thus prefer more sun protection options (e.g. knee to shoulder swim suits with closed backs) to be acceptable and available to OW swimmers.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • It started with Webb and should end with Webb. In my opinion, Webb’s first to swim the English Channel should set the standard for the English Channel. (Although you’d no longer get away with setting off next to a row boat with a lantern, beef tea and brandy). However Webb’s untimely death in Niagara Falls should teach us one very important lesson and that is that every body of water is different, each and every body of water should be treated with utmost respect for the body of water that it is... not every stretch of water is the English Channel therefore shouldn’t necessarily be treated as such.
  • edited May 2012
    (The following is directed generally, not specifically at Penny...)

    I'm wondering if it might help to talk more in specifics, less in generalities? In a couple respects:

    (1) Can the rash guard enthusiasts point to some examples of rash guards/closed-back suits they want to use? Links, pics, etc.

    (2) In which swims, specifically, should rash guards be allowed and currently are not? In which swims is sunscreen insufficient, and only physical sun protection will suffice?

    Would you suggest, for example, that CCSF change their rules, even though almost all Catalina swims take place at night?

    If Rottnest is allowing rash guards, then it seems we're already moving in the direction of (as I suggested previously) universal rules with local exceptions based on unusual environmental factors. I guess the issue is whether rash guards belong on the "universal" side of the equation, or the "exception" side.
  • For races, your entry fee could include a rash guard, instead of the usual tee shirt, that the organizers chose and would allow. Who would wear a drag suit in a race though? It would make for a nice souvenier for training. As far as sanctioning committees, no one sanctioned Webb. Do your own thing, if you want. If you want the piece of paper, do the sanctioning committee's thing, and wear the marble bag and vaseline. I wonder how many people swim the EC "unofficially".
  • @evmo

    (1) All the one piece closed back suits that I have been able to find are either tri-suits or from pre-2010 and thus made of suspect materials. Something like a closed back short john tri-suit (i.e. with a zipper) but made of a fabric that would otherwise be FINA approved is what I would love to have access to as an option.

    Note that the FINA rules for open water swimsuits actually allow knee to shoulder coverage but deny the use of a zipper which effectively makes it impossible to have a closed front and back, but does bring up the intriguing possibility of a FINA sanctioned swimsuit that has an open front it would look pretty silly though :))

    Textile rash guards are basically drag suits in my experience, they ballon out like crazy and are actually an impediment to swimming. I have friends who swim with them nonetheless to help minimize the risk of sunburn.

    (2) I'm guessing that a one piece would have increased chafing potential, so I am honestly curious as to whether anyone would *choose* to wear one if the swim did not have an increased risk of sun exposure. That is to say, it might be that this sort of thing may end up being self selective. I however have never swum in such a suit (and should they ever become approved might discover I really hate them) so am speculating only.

    I do want to say that I am not advocating that any given sanctioning organization need change their rules. I just think as this sport expands away from the English Channel, it might not be a bad idea to evaluate the restrictions placed on the participants both in light of our increased understanding of risks and specifics of local conditions that were perhaps not as relevant to Captain Webb.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • So the question is: should we all go back to wearing silk suits like the one I believe Webb wore? Please not a wool one. But seriously, has anyone ever determined if a rash guard makes you faster or warmer in a marathon swim? The dispute seems irrelevant (to me) if there is no advantage. If the suit is made up of the same porous material that passes FINA's rules I don't see how it can. Frankly I don't know how many of us would be helped even by an illegal speed suit in a 21 mile cold water swim in the open ocean.
  • Should rash guards / swim shirts / full body suits (not wetsuits) be permitted?

    Our local 8k swim from Magnetic Island to Townsville not only allow, but actively encourage participants to use protective suits, not because Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, but because of the dangers of marine stingers which inhabit these waters. With warning signs erected every few hundred meters along our beaches swimmers are labelled irresponsible if they ignore the warnings and require treatment for potentially deadly marine stingers.
  • edited May 2012
    Interesting thread in light of the report in the newspaper yesterday. Could organizers feel compelled to offer a category for a sum guard similar to wetsuits?
    http://www.benningtonbanner.com/news/ci_20597725/cdc-half-young-adults-get-sunburned

    I agree with Dave B above, and think of rgandy's picture as proof that there are alternatives to these garments.
    <))><
  • edited May 2012
    It took a bit of searching, but I think I'm set!

    imageimage
    I'm not very popular around here; but I'm huge in Edinburgh!
  • Bob, you’re right on the mark there.
    I think it may be possible to swim a marathon in a rash guard but you’d have to be nuts. The drag and chafing would be tremendous and slow your speed down to a crawl. (No pun intended).
    I have a couple of stories about the full suits;
    The first is; way back when the speed suits were legal I swam the Australian 25k titles in one, it was one of the worst swims I’ve ever experienced. Not only the problem of chafing at every seam, and there are many, the tight suit put a huge amount of pressure on my stomach, especially when feeding every 20 minutes, I was very uncomfortable and had to slow considerable because of the pain. No excuses for my poor swim, though the suit made a really big negative difference to my performance.
    The second; In 2007 I think it was, when Chris and I swam Tampa the Blue Seventy suits had just come out. My nearest and dearest bought himself a suit and contacted Ron for approval of the suit in the swim. FINA approved, yes its ok we were told. Well I was pretty cranky because Chris only bought himself a suit not me, I wore a regular Speedo. Funny thing was (to me anyway) Chris was so badly chafed in the undercarriage region that urinating during the swim was very painful for him, then for days after the swim he was airing himself and walking like John Wayne.
    The full suit I wore in my Cayman swim last year did not help with speed at all, it was purely to protect me from tropical marine stingers. I put it on at night and wore a regular lycra zip back suit during the day. Since I swam in accordance to o/w rules (in every way except the full suit which appears debatable by some) that meant wearing only one suit at a time, which meant stripping off in front of my all male crew and putting on a full suit whilst treading water, if you’ve ever put on a full suit on land you can imagine how difficult this was in the water. Guaranteed, no speed advantage received...it takes ages.
    One last point and I’m sorry if I’m not exactly on the question again, and that is it puzzles me that stinger protection is scorned at by some on this forum yet in the jellyfish sting thread people were actively recommending medications such as Epipens, is that legal in o/w swimming? Is that not artificially aiding a swimmer? And surly if a swimmer knows they’re likely to be repeatedly stung by dangerous marine stingers, isn’t prevention without artificially aiding a swimmer better than a cure?
  • edited May 2012
    I'd like to pick up from Penny's comment on the medication. Although I'm going somewhat off topic an issue that could be discussed in this context as well is the use of pain killers, ibuprofen, etc, giving competitors a significant advantage compared to those swimming w/o. I just came back from a 20km swim where "spiking" of the drinks seemed to be accepted by some. The same experience I've made in the ultra-marathon running scene. It was a common as popping a PowerGel for some runners. I'm a rookie to ows and thus don't know how common it is in general (I read a about it in EC swimmers' blogs) and I don't want to make misleading or false assumptions as it can be a very sensitive topic. I'm well aware that there can be good reasons for taking medication but I'd argue that a number of ambitious sportsmen do take it to gain a competitive advantage. Unlike wearing a speed suit or wetsuit nobody will notice.
  • I think the sport of rock climbing has set a rather good example. Many first ascents were made using aid. Later, climbers would (whenever possible) "free" the same routes using better technique and zero dependance on equipment except as a safety back up. Still, others might attempt to solo (no protective gear) the same routes.

    One of the things I love about this sport is the relative simplicity of the rules. For routes established, swimmers should honor the standardized rules for that swim and not seek to change the conduct or attire for their own benefit. A faster swim is not the only benefit, and I think an argument that starts with a disclaimer that the use of certain equipment doesn't aid speed fails to look at the bigger picture.

    New swims and first crossings allow a swimmer and their crew to decide what seems like reasonable precautionary measures. As this sport gains popularity, it is likely that future attempts will be made that eliminate aid beyond the EC standard.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • edited May 2012
    Penny - I brought up the Epipen issue as a way to quickly counteract a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to jellyfish stings and not related to performance in any way. I assume that someone in this situation would be pulled from the water, thereby ending the swim. Although an Epipen could be used as a performance aid, an amphetamine like Adderall would be more effective and cost alot less as a way to cheat. Just sayin'...

    -LBJ
    "Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid." - Heinrich Heine
  • edited May 2012
    Dave, good point. I often draw from my mountaineering experience since I started marathon swimming 2 years ago. However, in mountaineering the history is just the opposite of channel swimming.

    Early accents of Himalayan mountains were done with huge expeditionary parties. They set the standard for being first. Over time this approach has fallen into disfavor for most climbs. Fast and light (and unsupported) became the standard. Putting aside the improvements in the technology of clothes and climbing tools, the fewer things you use on a climb the greater the challenge - and accomplishment. Thus climbing El Capitan became climbing El Capitan without aid. That subsequently became climbing El Capitan solo. The same is true in the history of climbing Everest. Climbing Everest became climbing Everest without oxygen, which subsequently became climbing solo, and then climbing Everest solo without oxygen. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Messner

    To the general public climbing Everest is climbing Everest. They can't really imagine the difference in difficulty. But to those in the mountaineering community, climbing Everest solo without oxygen is surreal. I think Lynne Cox's swims are in that category.
  • My point wasn’t so much about speed; my point was that wearing protective suits (not wetsuits) doesn’t automatically turn a swimmer into superman; in my experience most have a negative overall effect on marathon swim rather than an assisting one.
    Leonard, totally agree with safety and first aid, Epipen on board for emergencies is a great idea. But I still think prevention is better than cure if at all possible.
    In my opinion there’s a big difference between protection and assistance.
    Dave, totally agree with this statement; One of the things I love about this sport is the relative simplicity of the rules. For routes established, swimmers should honor the standardized rules for that swim and not seek to change the conduct or attire for their own benefit.
    However, those who wish to climb without the ropes, I hope they do so with caution, because when things go wrong (and sooner or later they will), authorities will be quick to regulate open water swimmers with more rules and regulations and the relative freedom in the sport which we all enjoy today may be lost. As in many cases the minority spoil things for the majority.
    Ok guys and girls, nice chatting with you all, I have a big swim ahead of me with lot of organising to do. It’s in tropical waters so I will be wearing a stinger protective suit for part of the 103 miles, it would be great to know some of you are cheering for me.
    All the best with your upcoming swims, ~P
  • @Penny, just to be clear, we will ALL actually be rooting for you and wishing you the best.
  • edited May 2012
    @Penny, The swim that you are attempting is mind boggling and I wish you a safe and successful crossing.

    The swim was made by Susie Maroney a few years back with the assistance of a shark cage, so DN's and your attempts illustrate exactly the kind of progression that I refer to.

    Assuming you are both successful; the narrative will no doubt turn to (at least in some circles) who's swim was "cleaner"? ...so medical breaks, rash guards, heating pads, etc will all be debated ad infinitum... and we all have our opinions.

    I do anticipate at least one sleepless night cheering for you!
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • edited May 2012

    it puzzles me that stinger protection is scorned at by some on this forum yet in the jellyfish sting thread people were actively recommending medications such as Epipens

    I don't think anyone scorned stinger suits. I brought them up earlier in this thread because it's an interesting issue - IMO, more interesting than the issue of sun protection (the subject of the original post).

    In the event your attempt is successful (and, like everyone else here, I very much hope it will be!), decisions will need to be made - for media communications, the record books, etc. - about how to compare it with previous swims in which stinger suits were not used.

    Who makes these decisions? I'm afraid no single individual has the authority or legitimacy to decide - there's no global governing body in marathon swimming (nor should there be). That's why open, collaborative discussions such as these are valuable.

    My personal view is that stinger suits are a legitimate "local exception" in locations where the probability of debilitating, swim-ending stings is high - and do not disqualify a swim from being categorized as a "marathon swim" (as opposed to an "assisted swim").

    At the same time, I would oppose changing existing rules in other locations to accommodate stinger suits.

    But again, my concern is less about protective gear as it currently exists, and more about protective gear evolving over time into something that actually does enhance performance.

    @Penny, thanks for taking the time from your grueling training schedule to post here. All the best to you.
  • I'm torn about this. On one hand, I have a self-righteous fondness for the purity of the sport. On the other hand, I want people to swim and enjoy the water, and who am I to say how they should do it? I can see the need for regulation in racing, but in non-competitive adventures, folks should get in the water, challenge themselves, do some good, and have fun.

    Yesterday I saw a sweet little documentary called Swim for the River. It's about a guy who swam the length of the Hudson to raise awareness of river pollution. He connects with people in neighboring communities, makes friends for the river (and for himself) along the way, and does something fun and important. And yet, I found myself getting pissed off at the wetsuit/fin/booties/gloves combo. And then, I got pissed off at myself for being pissed off. Here's an enthusiastic, passionate person, doing something laudable and interesting, and I'm dissing him in my head because he's not a purist? Feh.

    My conclusion - it makes sense to regulate attire etc for racing and associations, but let's keep in mind what this is really about...
  • Here's the link to the documentary: http://www.swimfortheriver.com/index.html
  • heart said:

    Here's the link to the documentary: http://www.swimfortheriver.com/index.html

    Christopher Swain is a hell of a nice guy and quite passionate about his cause... and as a resident of the Mid-Hudson River Valley, it is a cause dear to me as well. If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak... do it!
    If you enjoyed the film, you might also like to follow his tweets @swimwithswain

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • But again, my concern is less about protective gear as it currently exists, and more about protective gear evolving over time into something that actually does enhance performance.

    If the marathon swimming community doesn't support non-performance-enhancing protective gear, that will definitely happen. No one wants to develop a product for a market that doesn't exist. If the only market is people looking for an artificial boost, development has to head in that direction.
  • WaterGirl said:

    But again, my concern is less about protective gear as it currently exists, and more about protective gear evolving over time into something that actually does enhance performance.

    If the marathon swimming community doesn't support non-performance-enhancing protective gear, that will definitely happen. No one wants to develop a product for a market that doesn't exist. If the only market is people looking for an artificial boost, development has to head in that direction.
    To paraphrase Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula in the 1931 version of "Dracula": "For a woman who has lived but a single lifetime, you are very wise, WaterGirl."

    -LBJ
    "Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid." - Heinrich Heine
  • So what is the consensus of the marathon swimming community? Are stinger suits to be allowed on solo marathon swims? If a stinger suit is used, is the swim considered to be a marathon swim or an assisted swim? There is less than a month to go before Penny swims from Cuba to Florida. Therefore, the global media will be soon reporting on her swim. What is the best way to come to a decision? A poll on the Marathon Swimmer's Forum? A vote by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame board of directors? A coin toss? An arm wrestle with Ned Denison? [note: I am not being rude or silly, I am just pointing out how difficult it is to make a global decision that meets the criteria of all parties involved - former swimmers, contemporary swimmers, future swimmers, coaches, pilots, media, governing bodies]

    Also on a related topic regarding allowed swimsuits, there was a discussion at Jamie's Swim Camp that jammers are allowed in channel swimming. After reviewing the Channel Swimming Association rules (which were established in 1927), the rule on swimsuits states, "A 'Standard Swim Costume' (for both sexes) shall be of a material not offering Thermal Protection or Buoyancy and shall be Sleeveless and Legless: "Sleeveless" shall mean the Costume must not extend beyond the end of the shoulder onto the Upper Arm;"Legless" shall mean that the costume may not extend on to the Upper Leg below the level of the crotch."

    However, the conversation included statements that "that the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation allows jammers and more people swim with the CS&PF." So does this statement imply "because more people swim with CS&PF, that its rules are 'more important' than the rules of the CSA" which started many decades before?

    I am not an English Channel swimmer so it would be interesting and educational to hear from the Channel community on this topic.

    It is my guess that if regulations such as swimsuits cannot be unified among the English Channel Swimming community that has roots going back to attempts in 1872, then this ongoing debate regarding stinger suits and other differences (e.g., use of pace swimmers, shark encounters and equipment), will not be resolved over the next month.

    That being said, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame board of directors meeting will be held on September 21 and 22 on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California (USA) as part of the 2012 Global Open Water Swimming Conference. Individuals are welcomed to attend and express their opinion to this open meeting where individual opinions are welcomed and appreciated.

    Thank you as always for educating me on all these topics and opinions. It is fascinating to learn from everyone.
    Steven Munatones
    www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com
    Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.
  • Munatones said:


    Also on a related topic regarding allowed swimsuits, there was a discussion at Jamie's Swim Camp that jammers are allowed in channel swimming. After reviewing the Channel Swimming Association rules (which were established in 1927), the rule on swimsuits states, "A 'Standard Swim Costume' (for both sexes) shall be of a material not offering Thermal Protection or Buoyancy and shall be Sleeveless and Legless: "Sleeveless" shall mean the Costume must not extend beyond the end of the shoulder onto the Upper Arm;"Legless" shall mean that the costume may not extend on to the Upper Leg below the level of the crotch."

    Men's swimwear of the 1920's and 1930's covered the torso, but I would find it odd if the CSA would allow that today... I couldn't find any photos of male channel swimmers of the 30's. So????
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • edited May 2012
    Munatones said:

    So what is the consensus of the marathon swimming community? Are stinger suits to be allowed on solo marathon swims? If a stinger suit is used, is the swim considered to be a marathon swim or an assisted swim? There is less than a month to go before Penny swims from Cuba to Florida. Therefore, the global media will be soon reporting on her swim. What is the best way to come to a decision? A poll on the Marathon Swimmer's Forum? A vote by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame board of directors? A coin toss? An arm wrestle with Ned Denison? [note: I am not being rude or silly, I am just pointing out how difficult it is to make a global decision that meets the criteria of all parties involved - former swimmers, contemporary swimmers, future swimmers, coaches, pilots, media, governing bodies]

    Good questions Steve. I certainly don't claim to be an authority in the department of stinger suits. I know the sea lice and lion's mane jellyfish we sometimes encounter in the northeast effect everyone a little differently. For some it is a very minor discomfort, and for others, the effects last weeks.

    I think when equipment is used, two questions to ask are:
    Is it possible to do the swim without said equipment?
    Is it a different swim without the use of said equipment?

    Both are difficult if not impossible to answer until a swim is attempted or repeated without it.

    Swims like Cuba to Fla require massive resources, and will likely remain rarely attempted. Of the few swimmers I can think of who could give it a go, fewer still would be willing to do all the promotion that it seems is necessary to finance it.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • Dave, the CSA rules only state "sleeveless" and "legless", so I could imagine that coverage of the torso is acceptable on an EC attempt, but that is definitely a question for a CSA Observer.
    Steven Munatones
    www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com
    Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.
  • Perhaps what would be useful would be to categorize swims/races based on the various types of "assistance" used. Example (& it's just an example):
    Category 0: Uses FINA rules esp concerning tech suits.
    Category 1: Traditional English Channel rules followed
    Category 2: Same as cat 1, but allowing for protective clothing/devices as dictated by specific swim circumstances. No speed enhancement devices/clothing allowed.
    Category 3: Same as cat 2, but wetsuits allowed if allowed by RD/association if water is "cold enough."
    Category 4: Pretty much anything goes as long as person completes entire swim on their own power.

    By categorizing, you keep the records for a swim delineated and don't have get into a pissing contest about whether or not a swim is legit. Nearly every swim IS legit within its own category and it doesn't infringe on the other categories. RD's and associations can also then declare what category or categories will be recognized for prizes, records, whatever. Note that there is no "better than" hierarchy assumed by this - the goal is to get as many people out there swimming and to minimize the tangle of claims/counterclaims as to legitimacy, records, awards, etc.

    -LBJ
    "Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid." - Heinrich Heine
  • I seem to recall that Christoph used a suite that covered the torso...check for photos somewhere...sleeveless and attached to a trunk type suite so one piece...must have been approved at the time...say 2004 or 2005
    "I never met a shark I didn't like"
  • edited May 2012
    Steven besides the text the CSA has a .pdf published on their site and on that .pdf there are clear examples for what is and isn't allowed.
    http://www.channelswimmingassociation.com/images/documents/swim_costumes.pdf

    image
    Captain Webb's costume looks similar to the allowed image
    It covers the front more than an ordinary speedo.
    That would help some against stiggers,

    Only problem men, it's meant for women.image
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • Traditional suit, cap, googles and "grease." I like it like that.
  • I spent a month swimming in the Sea of Cortez (two weeks down the coast and two weeks back, camping at night on the beach). For a pale skinned Brit, I had to wear a tee shirt and pyjama trousers to keep the sun off and without the heat of a wetsuit.

    Sometimes you have to swim with other equipment or you do not evolve into new swimming adventures. A long distance swim, is not just a one off 20 miler.
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