Randonneurs and marathon swimming?
Wife and I have recently gotten (back) into cycling. Just fun little jaunts out, mostly to save on gas, but now it's become fun just for fun's sake.
I read somewhere about randonneuring (look it up) and discovered it would be a fun adventure/challenge. Imagine my surprise and excitement when I discovered the local randonneuring club has a 200K randonneur on our 23rd wedding anniversary!
But that's not why I'm writing. My thoughts, after reading about this type of cycling, is why can't we have something like this in marathon swimming? Non-competitive long distance events?
In a 200k brevet (not a race, but...), everyone who finishes in the time allotment (13.5 hours for a comfy 15k/hour) is listed as a finisher in alpha order by last name. Your time is listed, but there are no firsts, seconds, etc. Everyone gets the same finisher medal.
There are also team events, where a team of 5 bikes (could be 10 folks if all bikes are tandems) completes 360K in 24 hours. There are other rules (at least 25K must be ridden in the last 2 hours), but I thought, why can't marathon swimming have something like this?
I thought back to La Tuque from our history. A 2- or 3-man (in the truly grammatically gender neutral sense) team swimming as much as they can in 24 hours to complete X kilometers. Or a 20-mile marathon that has a time allotment of 13.5 hours, and the swimmer can get out and rest whenever, but must finish in the time. (Might be a good way to get other swimmers into marathon swimming?!)
Of course, these crazy bikers do longer brevets. 300K, 400K 600K 1000K 1200K...Perhaps something crazy like a 50-mile swim in a set amount of time, rest stops allowed as long as you finish, etc...
What do you guys/gals think?
While I've done a handful of 200k rides by myself, starting and finishing from my residence at the time, for fun, I've never done any formal brevets. I've met at least one guy who has done Paris-Brest-Paris. I'd call him a little nuts, but I now belong to that world of swimmers, so I shouldn't be too critical.
I feel the need to preface the rest of my comment with the fact that I am only speaking from my experience, not for anyone else, and I understand that my experience is not all encompassing.
I don't hate the idea, but I think that, at least for the events I've participated in, the competition is low key enough that I don't think it would improve the atmosphere very much. People view finishing long swims as just as much of an accomplishment as winning. Competitive open water swimming, at least in the levels of races I "compete" in, is (thankfully) a lot different than competitive cycling. Triathletes do tend to bring more of a competitive feel to the shorter races, and age group athletes even more so, but the longer the event, the less apparent that becomes. To be fair, most of the people in these two groups are training for more speed than I am, and I'm usually swimming with the aim of having fun, getting in a decent, hard swim with some traffic around, and finishing without feeling like I'm going to die.
Even in the world of channel swimming, I think it's viewed differently in swimming than in other sports. Yes, we celebrate folks like Trent Grimsey and Grace van der Byl, but we also celebrate folks like Stephen Redmond, who by his own admission is not a very fast swimmer.
Speaking again only for myself, if I am entering a unique event, such as Swim Around Charleston, Swim the Suck (neither of which I have done but would like to), Kingdom Swim, the Pensacola swims, what have you, my place and my time are tertiary goals, at best. First goal is to safely make it out of the water, preferably at the finish line. Second goal is to have some fun. Anything after that is gravy. I usually have goal times in mind, but if I don't meet them (I haven't yet in the Pensacola 25k), I'm not distraught over it.
To finish up my rambling, I don't think it's a terrible idea, but I'm not sure it would change the atmosphere a whole lot from where it is now.
For the past 2 years I have been thinking about how to accomplish something like this for the length of the Juniata River in PA from below the dam at Raystown Lake to where it meets the Susquehanna River above Harrisburg (just under 100 miles). I may have to do a little more research to see if it is feasible in any sense. Anyone up for a shorter slow test swim (say 10-15 miles) between now and 1 October if I can get some info on how realistic something like that might be? I'm also not at all certain whether this would be risking arrest, but my sister-in-law is a lawyer here in PA and I'd have her on speed dial.
"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" -Satchel Paige
Interesting comments you two. I guess I'm looking more at extremely long events like LBJ's or a 24-hour type of thing like in the golden age.
LBJ, if the timing were right, I'd be up for a long slow swim with you to test.
LBJ, I live in Pittsburgh and would love to swim with you! At least here swimming in the rivers is legal, but swimming in lakes outside of the posted areas is illegal. This seems pretty stupid but since I live close to the river (Allegheny) but far from the lakes it works for me.
Also I ride with the Pittsburgh Randonneurs. Would love to have swimmers join us!
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