The MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
edited January 5 in General Discussion
Dear Forum members,

As you know, some of the most interesting discussions here, consistently since the Forum's inception, have concerned Rules. Check out the 'rules' tag archive - it makes for fascinating reading.

I'm pleased to report that something quite constructive has arisen from these discussions. A global rules document; a statement of fundamental principles; and a guide for swimmers who wish to apply them.

The MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming
http://www.marathonswimmers.org/rules


Donal, Elaine, Andrew, and I (a.k.a. @loneswimmer, @emkhowley, @malinaka, & @evmo) have solicited reviews from a global sampling of marathon swimmers; we have integrated their feedback; and we are now ready to let it loose into the wild.

Since this document evolved directly out of this Forum and its discussions, we're very interested to hear your feedback. We think it is good, but we know it can be better. And its legitimacy ultimately derives from your support.

If you like what you read, please leave your name on the Endorsements page.

Thanks, everyone.

http://loneswimmer.com/2014/01/06/introducing-a-new-global-standardised-marathon-swimming-rule-set/

http://marathonswimmers.org/blog/2014/01/msf-rules/



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JANUARY 6, 2014

MARATHON SWIMMERS FEDERATION RELEASES STANDARDIZED RULES OF MARATHON SWIMMING

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—The Marathon Swimmers Federation, a global organization uniting, inspiring, and connecting marathon and aspiring marathon swimmers around the world, has released a set of standardized rules and principles to govern the sport of marathon swimming. These rules, which are available in full online at www.marathonswimmers.org/rules, codify nearly 140 years of global marathon swimming traditions into a streamlined and easy-to-use document to help swimmers around the world complete officially recognized marathon swims.

The rules were written by a core group of Federation members—Evan Morrison of San Francisco, Calif., Andrew Malinak of Seattle, Wash., Donal Buckley of Co. Tipperary, Ireland, and Elaine Howley of Boston, Mass. The co-authors spent several months developing the rules and sought input, comments, and peer-review from a wider, global group of dedicated open water swimmers. The peer review group is named in the rules document.

The rules document is intended to assist aspiring and experienced marathon swimmers, observers, event organizers, and the media to swim, organize, monitor, evaluate, and report swims according to guidelines long used by the global marathon swimming community. These rules do not supplant any existing marathon organization’s rules but may be used as a foundation for organizing bodies that want to develop swim-specific guidelines. The document includes standard marathon swimming definitions, a listing of accepted equipment, types of marathon swims, observation criteria, and standardized swimming rules.

Marathon swimming is unassisted by definition. Swims that use equipment or rules other than those outlined within the MSF rules document may be considered assisted swims.

The aim of the document is to present a complete picture of the guiding principles and widely agreed-upon standards of the sport of marathon swimming. As the sport grows in popularity, codifying rules becomes increasingly important. The co-authors hope that with the addition of these standardized rules, the sport can become more accessible to new swimmers.

About the Marathon Swimmers Federation and Forum

The Marathon Swimmers Federation is the organizational body administering the marathonswimmers.org forum that was founded in early 2012 by American marathon swimmer Evan Morrison and Irish marathon swimmer Donal Buckley. The forum’s continually growing membership includes many of the world's most accomplished and recognized marathon swimmers, as well as observers, pilots, event organizers, swim journalists, and marathon swim aspirants. The marathonswimmers.org forum is an entirely voluntary and non-commercial amateur athletic discussion community that connects swimmers around the world.
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Comments

  • Simultaneous posts on Evan's & Donal's blogs.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Heartily endorse these rules!
  • Thanks to all involved for their efforts... I'm sure it wasn't easy to pull this together!
  • Fantastic job, people!

    Two comments:
    1) Under "Observers", should it say that the observer may not be in the direct employment of the swimmer for the swim? I realize this is a bit of a problem in some cases, but at least some sort of mention/qualification about this might be good.
    2) "The MSF recommends a maximum of one hour per support swim and a minimum of one hour between support swims." This is ambiguous since it does not expressly forbid anything, but is only a recommendation. Does this mean that if a person has support swimmers the entire time, it IS OK, just frowned upon or not?

    Good work, regardless.

    -LBJ
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • DavidDavid Member
    You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.
    Albert Einstein

    I think Einstein really meant swim better than everyone else. Seriously though, well done to all of you who have worked so hard to make this initiative a reality. It can only be a good thing for our beloved sport.
  • JamieJamie Member
    Yippee - Finally. I have always been amazed that a standard set of rules (general and clear) have not been outlined and made public. I have a few comments.

    1. Based on these rules this organization does not recognize the "world record" EC crossing last year. Is this correct?
    2. I do not see any mention of environmental protection i.e. animals and littering. Should this be part of the rules?
    3. The rules state - The swimmer does not need to declare the use of standard equipment (i.e., it is assumed). I believe that although it is assumed it is important for the outside world to understand what these rules are. The more the public understands the basic concept of marathon swimming, the more the public and media will hold swimmers accountable.
    4. If there is a deviation from these rules I am assuming the swim is not considered a marathon swim. For example, During my next swim I will be wearing a clip on my ear that transmits body temperature and heart rate to the boat. Is this correct? I also will have support swimmers in the water for longer than it is designated in the rules. Is my swim now considered assisted.

    This is incredibly well done. Thank you for doing this. You guys rock.
    Jamie
  • WeI'd like to let some comments and feedback accumulate before we address everything but @Jamie raises an important point:

    1: This is not about recognising swims. The MSF is not an observing, piloting, crewing, verification or ratification body. A swim recognised by an official organisation such as CS&PF stands. The only place where we have used our own criteria in this fashion are that swims considered assisted may not be nominated for the annual MSF awards. So no, that's not correct.

    (2: From the rules: Responsible Environmental Stewardship: Everyone involved in the swim attempt – swimmer, observer, support personnel, and escort boat personnel – must treat the environment respectfully and prevent avoidable harm to marine wildlife and ecosystems.)
  • JamieJamie Member
    @loneswimmer Thank you! However by issuing a set of rules and standards you are indeed saying what a marathon swim is and is not. It would be like me telling my daughter that she must clean her room a certain way and then not making sure she did it that way. In my opinion if you are going to be the organization that sets these standards then you must also have a process of verifying them also. The most important step in setting standards is the assessment and verification process. Without it standards mean little. I understand that there are organizations already in place for this around the world but as this sport continues to grow at a rapid pace new swims are being created everyday. Following these standards/rules are important but having no way to verify, approve and ratify them can lead to confusion. I would have no problem submitting a set of documents (pre and post swim) to a committee to be ratified and recorded. This gives legitimacy to the swim. A fee can and should be submited with this process. Not trying to stir the pot. Just energized...
  • Unlike many other sports, marathon swimming has remained "athlete vs environment" virtually unchanged from it's inception. Challenging oneself honestly, with integrity and accepting the outcome is at the heart of the Spirit of marathon swimming. Thank you for all the hard work you put into the "Rules." I support you fully.
  • Evan, Donal, Andrew, Elaine,

    Excellent job on doing something which should have been done years ago. It is apparent you all have put counltess hours in to this project. Marathon swimmers finally have a document we can reference to protect our sport. My guess is that by having the MSF in place, it will greatly reduce those attempts from people who make up their own rules and claim records.

    On small suggestion....I might broaden the definition of "Unassisted" to also include "no physical contact." An Unassisted swim is not only about the equipment that you use. I realize you cover physical contact under 8.2, but it is so important in my opinion, that it should also be included in the definition.

    As to Leonard's suggestion,,,woudn't it make more sense to say "a support swimmer may not start and finish with the swimmer." I am not sure I see the rationale behind limiting the support swimmer to one hour legs. Plus, as Leonard said, only recommending is ambiguous.
  • Thank you. LEOWSA (lake erie open water swimming) endorses these rules.
  • A few more thoughts:
    1) "The swimmer may wear a single textile swimsuit with standard coverage" I'd change this to "The swimmer may wear a single textile swimsuit with coverage limitations as defined in the 'Standard Equipment' section above." Nit-picky, I know.
    2) Under the topic of local swim rules variation, I would say something to the effect that these should exist only as either something that is a continuance of existing rules traditional to that particular swim (i.e. a "grandfathering") or that are necessitated as a way to mitigate a bona fide, significant safety threat.
    3) Make the rules (and the special rules section) available for download in PDF format (unless I missed that part).

    -LBJ
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    Under "Observers", should it say that the observer may not be in the direct employment of the swimmer for the swim?

    Ideally, no there should not be any direct financial arrangement between the swimmer and observer. And this will be so in many cases:
    - Sanctioned swims where the organization (CS&PF, CCSF, SBCSA, etc.) provides an observer.
    - Certain very high-profile swims, such as @Jamie's, which are (at least in part) externally financed, and the external entity can pay the observer.
    - Swims for which the observer is volunteering.

    However, I don't know that we want to disqualify situations where, e.g., Joe Swimmer wants to do a swim in some remote location, and he cannot find an independent observer who is willing to pay his/her own airfare, lodging, etc. to said remote location. Perhaps in such situations the swimmer and observer should draw up a contract, stating the observer is paid/reimbursed upfront, with no strings attached, empowered with full independence, or something to that effect.

    "The MSF recommends a maximum of one hour per support swim and a minimum of one hour between support swims." This is ambiguous since it does not expressly forbid anything, but is only a recommendation. Does this mean that if a person has support swimmers the entire time, it IS OK, just frowned upon or not?

    The first part of that rule states:
    A support swimmer (or swimmers) may accompany the solo swimmer for a limited duration. Multiple support swims are allowed, but should not occur consecutively.
    So, the rule is more strongly worded that the support swim(s) should be limited in duration, and not consecutive... but less strongly worded on the specifics of the timing. When this was discussed, the consensus was that it seemed a bit too arbitrary to state specific timing for support swims.
  • SharkoSharko Sonoma County, CAMember
    edited January 6
    I think, Ideally, an observer should not be paid by the swimmer, but by a third independent person/organization via a contract price, with a "payment amount not dependent upon any swim conclusion"...(There will likely be times when a swimmer will pay an observer for expenses and a contract would be useful in protecting the percieved validity of the swim)....need to take the conflict of interest completely out of the motive of the observer....I also think the pilot/co-pilot of the swim could sign off on the observers report to verify as to his/her recollecion of the swim.
    "I never met a shark I didn't like"
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Jamie said:

    I have always been amazed that a standard set of rules (general and clear) have not been outlined and made public.

    Herding cats, or something to that effect.
    Jamie said:

    1. Based on these rules this organization does not recognize the "world record" EC crossing last year. Is this correct?

    That swim was sanctioned by the CS&PF, and the MSF respects the CS&PF's authority and legitimacy to sanction swims in the English Channel.

    The MSF considers drafting to be a local EC exception to standard marathon swimming rules. One possible justification (IMO) for the exception is that support paddlers are not allowed in the EC due to frequently occurring unsafe conditions. Support paddlers allow swimmers to safely maintain distance from the escort boat.
    Jamie said:

    2. I do not see any mention of environmental protection i.e. animals and littering. Should this be part of the rules?

    It should be, and it is :)
    Jamie said:

    3. The rules state - The swimmer does not need to declare the use of standard equipment (i.e., it is assumed). I believe that although it is assumed it is important for the outside world to understand what these rules are.

    See Section 4, Standard Equipment of Marathon Swimming. Swimmers are free to include this in their stated rules, and indeed they are encouraged to do so.
    Jamie said:

    4. If there is a deviation from these rules I am assuming the swim is not considered a marathon swim.

    If the deviation clearly violates the spirit of unassisted marathon swimming, no the MSF does not consider it a marathon swim. If the deviation is legitimate adaptation to local circumstances, then yes it can still be considered a marathon swim.

    The distinction between "legitimate adaptation" and "violation of the spirit" will always be an interesting issue. However, we think MSF Rules have defined the boundaries of that discussion in a way that will facilitate & simplify that discussion.
    Jamie said:

    For example, During my next swim I will be wearing a clip on my ear that transmits body temperature and heart rate to the boat.

    MSF Rules specifically cite transmission of information to the swimmer as the litmus test for such devices. So your biofeedback devices would seem fine as long as the information is being sent to the boat, and not you in the water.
    Jamie said:

    I also will have support swimmers in the water for longer than it is designated in the rules. Is my swim now considered assisted.

    MSF Rules do not specify specific timing for support swims, only that they are limited in duration and not consecutive.

    Thanks for the feedback & engagement, Jamie! Much appreciated :)
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    And if I read it correctly (don't want to reread it now as I'm cooking), I can talk about this on my blog and even quote it as long as I state that MSF is the source of the rules, yes?
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Of course! :)

    The Creative Commons licenses are meant for people who are creating their own rules documents, either adopting MSF rules (in full), or adapting them (to local circumstances). We don't want people copying MSF Rules without attribution. Blog commentary is a different thing.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Thank you to Brandon Sullivan a.k.a. @Sully, who noticed a very important missing item from the Standard Equipment: glow sticks!

    This will be amended in the next version (call it 1.1). All changes will be transparently documented, and ultimately the co-authors anticipate transferring this responsibility to a standing committee.
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    edited January 7
    Wow. Great interest in this topic on the channel swimmers group...

    And I'd be interested in what our resident journalist (@rosemarymint, yes?) thinks. Would these rules have prevented some of the over-sensationalized reporting from last September?
  • bcobbbcobb Member
    Add my enthusiastic endorsement. It is important to establish a consistent set of rules and regulations to the sport as it starts to grow. This document covers a lot and I see that it has already spurred an intelligent, thoughtful dialog that will benefit all who are involved in open water swimming. Many thanks.
  • Congratulations to all who worked on this and I completely support it.

    I do have one comment in regards to 8.1 Start & Finish. This section should include circumnavigation swims such as MIMS, were it is not always possible to enter/exit the water from a natural shore, but to include to say something to the effect that the finish should be at the point were the swimmer entered the water....my 2 cents worth.

    Question....a river swim were the swimmer starts in the water from under a bridge and swims 13 to 20 miles to finish in the water at the next bridge, would this be recognized as a marathon swim since it does not follow MSF rule 8.1 Start & Finish?

    Again, Thank you Evan, Andrew, Donal & Elaine!!!!
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited January 7
    @Cristian, thanks very much for your support.

    Section 8 of the document ('Swim Rules') is intended as a foundation of basic rules, to which local adaptations may be added (assuming the adaptations are justifiable within the spirit of marathon swimming).

    So, Rule 8.1 ('Start and Finish') could certainly be adapted to urban circumnavigations such as MIMS, which are strictly limited in access points to the water.

    8 Bridges' practice of starting & finishing under bridges is also a perfectly justifiable adaptation, given the stage swim structure. I'd note that the co-founders of 8 Bridges, Rondi and David, are both endorsers of the document.

    Thanks for the questions!
  • heartheart Member
    I'm glad these came out, not only because it allows me to geek out on both law and swimming, but because it's a natural ending to my paper about the Diana Nyad brouhaha.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    edited January 7
    A reason watches, jewellery, long nails etcetera aren't allowed under FINA rules is because you can hurt your opponents with them.

    Why should we handle different even when swimming alone?
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    @heart, you mention "paper." What form will this paper take? Article in a magazine? Paper for a school class?

    Would love to read it when you're done.
  • mauprietomauprieto Barcelona and TiburonMember
    Congrats @loneswimmer, @emkhowley, @malinaka & @evmo for these set of rules. Shows a lot of hard work and dedication.

    Should I conclude that anybody wearing a jellyfish protection cream/sunscreen (such as http://www.nidaria.com/Nidaria/Templates/showpage.asp?DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=87&FID=907&PID=1224), or a shark protective device (such as http://www.sharkprotection.com.au/electronic-shark-defence-system/) or a glow in the night stick would be considered assisted swims?
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited January 8
    @mauprieto, thanks! No I don't that conclusion is warranted.

    Sunscreen is included on the standard equipment.

    As mentioned earlier in this thread, glow sticks were an oversight and will be addressed in the upcoming version.

    Shark shields are not listed on the standard equipment; nor are they listed specifically as performance enhancing. This topic may be worthy of further discussion.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited January 8
    Incidentally...

    If you've read through the document you may have noticed a link to a page listing individuals and organizations who have publicly endorsed MSF Rules:

    http://www.marathonswimmers.org/rules-endorsements/

    Yesterday, the Lake Tahoe Swimming Society was the first to announce that they will adopt (in full) MSF Rules for their sanctioned Tahoe swims in the "marathon swim" category. Which is utterly fantastic - thanks to @Jamie and others with LTSS.

    We welcome any Forum members to add their names to the list. You can do so in three ways:

    1. Leave a comment on the above-linked Endorsements page.
    2. Send a PM to either me or @loneswimmer with your name and (optional) swimming credentials.
    3. Send an email to rules [at] marathonswimmers [dot] org

    The public support of real, live, practicing swimmers is essential in establishing the legitimacy of these Guidelines. Otherwise, it's just four people's opinion...

    We've been gobsmacked by the positive response to this project - thanks to all for the support.
  • I will be honest as to why I didn't add my name to the endorsement page. Although I support these rules and and appreciate the effort taken to write them, I was intimidated by the credentials listed after everyone else's names. Somehow typing my name followed by Potomac River and Kingdom swimmer just seemed like it wasn't enough. So thank you for letting us know other ways to show our support. @evmo add my name to your list.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Janet, you should be proud of your swimming credentials - and you forgot to mention your amazing Lake Tahoe swim.

    Thanks also for the opportunity to clarify: Folks, there are no "qualifications" for endorsing this document. If you're a member of this Forum and have a genuine interest in the sport, that's good enough.

    Heck, Ted Erikson's endorsement by itself was good enough for me! :)
  • paulmpaulm Member
    Great job by everyone involved- question that I can't see covered (maybe my eyesight :) )- is what about shark shields or other shark deterrent devices ??
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited January 8
    paulm said:

    what about shark shields or other shark deterrent devices ??

    According to the current version of the document, acoustic shark deterrents (e.g., shark shields) are not included as part of the "standard equipment" of marathon swimming. However, they are not considered performance-enhancing, either.

    So, a shark shield would not disqualify a swim from being considered "unassisted," but it would need to be declared in the swim documentation.

    From the Standard Equipment of Marathon Swimming section:
    Use of nonstandard equipment must always be declared, even if the equipment’s benefit to performance is ambiguous.
    Shark shields are not universally endorsed by existing marathon swims & swimmers. They are prohibited by ACNEG (Strait of Gibraltar), and also the Farallon Islands Swimming Federation. In the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, it is illegal to disrupt marine wildlife by any means - and that includes shark shields.
  • paulmpaulm Member
    Thanks Evan- as I said earlier a great job by all involved

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited January 8
    Further regarding Endorsements & "qualifications".

    While it is exciting and gratifying and indeed humbling to see so many endorsements from so many amazing swimmers, these rules are also about the future of our sport and looking forward.

    Therefore the voices and endorsements of those of you who Aspire to be marathon swimmers, or just love and support the sport, are also important and need to be heard, to express what you want the sport to be, as much as what it has been. At some point in the future you will be the voices and holders and inheritors of our long and proud traditions, as we all, everyone of us, are only inheritors and successors of the giants who have gone before us.

    We strongly encourage aspirants and marathon swimming supporters to add your voices to the mix.

  • KevinKevin Member
    Well done all. I am happy to endorse these rules .
  • j9swimj9swim new york Member
    I'm an aspiring marathon swimmer, its really great to see so many experienced people having a voice in their sport. My only feedback after reading this is for us city folks. Sometimes its not possible for us to enter or touch a natural shore at the beginning or end of a swim as seen in Ederle and MIMS . So if people are doing new swims similar to those perhaps the wording can be adjusted to embrace these types of urban swims too.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited January 9
    @j9swim, thanks!

    We've received a couple of private comments on this issue, so it's a good opportunity to clarify:

    Section 8 ('Swim Rules') is a flexible document, meant to be adapted as necessary to local circumstances. Urban starts & finishes (lacking an available "natural shore") can be easily accommodated by a simple modification of Rule 8.1 ('Start & Finish'), defining the start/finish as a pier, a dock, or even an in-water location if the location can be defined precisely.

    8 Bridges, for example, is planning to use MSF Rules with a specific modification for starting & finishing under bridges.

    One reason to not include offshore locations as standard Starts & Finishes is to discourage swimmers from claiming they swam from, e.g., Island A to Island B, when beaches are available, but Start and/or Finish are actually offshore. This has actually happened on at least one well-known swim!
  • Joining in to offer the perspective of an outsider/aspiring marathon swimmer. I've been following the forum since August and have read much of the archives, so I have a reasonable idea of where the rules are coming from. It sounds like a lot of thought and work have gone into them, and that they capture what swimmers on this forum view as the essence of marathon swimming.

    My impression is that a big reason for the creation of the rules is to create a standard to point to when the general public (and perhaps especially the media) have a question about what constitutes marathon swimming. I have two suggestions to make this more digestible for the public (and hence more likely that the media will take this organization seriously if it raises concerns):

    1) Frame the boat/kayak and support crew as issues of safety. It's interesting - for a potentially dangerous sport safety isn't mentioned at all in the rules. If you talk about them in terms of safety it helps explain why an "unassisted swim" could feasibly involve more people than an "assisted swim."

    2) Please consider revising "Electronic devices attached to the swimmer, which transmit information to the swimmer – e.g., wristwatches, navigation aids, biofeedback monitors." If support crew is able to have access to the information in the boat, and the support crew is allowed to tell the swimmer that information, then the swimmer should be able to have the same information just transmitted to them directly. If there's electronic information that the boat isn't allowed to use, then the swimmer shouldn't be allowed to either. I've read the comments on the thread about wristwatches, and I can see how passionately some of you feel about this, but it weakens the whole document because it just doesn't seem logical. I think you all are really risking marginalizing yourselves with it, because it puts you at such an extreme position.

    I hope you won't be too offended to have such an opinionated post from a newcomer. Since loneswimmer indicated a willingness to hear from non-experts I thought I would give it a shot.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    edited January 9
    @kerry85 I agree with your point 1)

    Point 2) sounds reasonable and has a point of truth.
    But first: here tradition steps in. We also don't want to alienate ourself from the existing organisations like the CS&PF, CSA, MIMS ..
    And second: I personal have the opinion that we should follow the FINA rules as much as we can. That way it's easier to compete at some famous marathon swims like Capri-Napoli (Italy), Hernandarias-Parana (Argentina), Traversee International du Lac St-Jean, Roberval (Canada) ... without having to unlearn something. Those marathons are fun also!
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    edited January 10
    kerry85 said:

    I've read the comments on the thread about wristwatches, and I can see how passionately some of you feel about this, but it weakens the whole document because it just doesn't seem logical. I think you all are really risking marginalizing yourselves with it, because it puts you at such an extreme position

    There is very little logic involved when one looks 20 miles or more across a body of water and thinks.... I'm going to try and swim that!
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited January 10

    "The MSF recommends a maximum of one hour per support swim and a minimum of one hour between support swims." This is ambiguous since it does not expressly forbid anything, but is only a recommendation. Does this mean that if a person has support swimmers the entire time, it IS OK, just frowned upon or not?

    evmo said:

    The first part of that rule states:

    A support swimmer (or swimmers) may accompany the solo swimmer for a limited duration. Multiple support swims are allowed, but should not occur consecutively.
    So, the rule is more strongly worded that the support swim(s) should be limited in duration, and not consecutive... but less strongly worded on the specifics of the timing. When this was discussed, the consensus was that it seemed a bit too arbitrary to state specific timing for support swims.
    I've never had the opportunity to utilize a support swimmer in my 30+ swims, so I can't comment on the benefits (or hindrances) of having one. I would assume that the support swimmer acts as a pace setter, distraction from the monotony, and/or gives some mental piece of mind.

    Why allow support swimmers at all when their job is to provide a service to assist the swimmer during their event?

    Why not limit swimmer support to the escort craft/vessels and the people in/on them?

    Are escort runners allowed in the ultra-marathon world? How have they addressed this issue?

    I'm aware that many (if not all) event specific associations allow support swimmers, which would justify for their allowance in this set of rules.

    I would think that support swimmers would complicate things. The swim official would have to document everything the support swimmer was doing on top of everything else that was going on, which could create safety and logistical considerations.

    Thanks,

    Chris Derks
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited January 10

    There is very little logic involved when one looks 20 miles or more across a body of water and thinks.... I'm going to try and swim that!

    I've always let my trainer keep time during my swims. I've always believed that if you're stopping to look at your watch, you are wasting your time and prolonging your swim. Our job is to swim. Let your trainer worry about everything else.

    Chris
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember

    I would think that support swimmers would complicate things. The swim official would have to document everything the support swimmer was doing on top of everything else that was going on, which could create safety and logistical considerations.

    Observers only have to note the time and duration of the support swimmer. And see to that the support-swimmer swims alongside, but not in front, of the solo aspirant & must not impede the solo swimmer.
    That's no big deal and won't create safety and logistical considerations.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • @swimmer25K, pacers are allowed in many ultras. They serve the same purpose as they do in marathon swims, all of which you listed above. You are right, they aid the swimmer and you could argue that they are not necessary. If the purpose of rules is to strip a marathon swim down to the bare essentials then the use of a pace swimmer should be left out.

    I have never had the opportunity to make use of a trainer, but either the observer or the race official does keep the official time and the support crew on long solo swims tracks the time as well. I find wearing a watch during events useful because it give me immediate results for a finish time and also aids feed timing if the escort kayaker isn't on top of it. I wear a watch that allows me to view the time without stopping or changing my stroke.
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    edited January 10

    Why allow support swimmers at all when their job is to provide a service to assist the swimmer during their event?

    I'm aware that many (if not all) event specific associations allow support swimmers, which would justify for their allowance in this set of rules.

    I would think that support swimmers would complicate things. The swim official would have to document everything the support swimmer was doing on top of everything else that was going on, which could create safety and logistical considerations.

    As you mentioned, many of the world's federations already allow for the use of support swimmers... so there is tradition. Some federations also permit "tandem swims" (2 or more swimmers completing a swim together). There are of course specific rules for both of these situations to avoid drafting (the most obvious of possible assistance).

    Some arguments in favor of support swimmers:
    -Incentive for swimmers to volunteer to crew
    -Adds an element of safety for pre, and near hypothermia situations.
    -Can help guide a swimmer when conditions require greater distance from the escort boat.

    And for tandem swims:
    -Economical (shared costs)
    -Maximizes use of limited escort craft (time slots)
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • Niek said:

    I would think that support swimmers would complicate things. The swim official would have to document everything the support swimmer was doing on top of everything else that was going on, which could create safety and logistical considerations.

    Observers only have to note the time and duration of the support swimmer. And see to that the support-swimmer swims alongside, but not in front, of the solo aspirant & must not impede the solo swimmer.
    That's no big deal and won't create safety and logistical considerations.
    I'm more concerned in a situation where (if) one or both of the swimmers become distressed for any particular reason (sick, night, hot, cold, rough seas, etc). Think of the problems that could arise.

    Say the escort gets injured or ill, and the escort boat has to effect a rescue. The solosist is going to have to stop (and possibly assist) along with the escort craft. If severe enough; put the swim in jeopardy.

  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited January 10
    gregoc said:

    @swimmer25K, pacers are allowed in many ultras. They serve the same purpose as they do in marathon swims, all of which you listed above. You are right, they aid the swimmer and you could argue that they are not necessary. If the purpose of rules is to strip a marathon swim down to the bare essentials then the use of a pace swimmer should be left out.

    I have never had the opportunity to make use of a trainer, but either the observer or the race official does keep the official time and the support crew on long solo swims tracks the time as well. I find wearing a watch during events useful because it give me immediate results for a finish time and also aids feed timing if the escort kayaker isn't on top of it. I wear a watch that allows me to view the time without stopping or changing my stroke.

    I refer to the person in charge of my support during the swim (kayaker, navigation, tactics, nutrition) as my "trainer". I feed every 12 minutes in my races and I keep pretty good track of time on my own.

    If your escort can't keep on top of things, they need to be fired. You have too much to worry about on your own. ;)

    BTW- Is the term "trainer" no longer used?
  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Member
    edited January 10

    As you mentioned, many of the world's federations already allow for the use of support swimmers... so there is tradition.

    What about a pioneering swim that isn't attached to any federation and without any previous precedent?

    Like the "Great Travis Trek" of 2009 where we dodged ligthing.

  • @swimmer25K, you bring up a very important point that was left out of the MSF rules, when should a swim be postponed, canceled, or abandoned due to safety concerns. I don't know if this was overlooked or left out intentionally.

    Maybe it is just common sense when to end a swim and pull the swimmer (shark sighting, hypothermia signs, lightning, fog, high winds/waves, injury to the swimmer, etc).

    Maybe a section should be added to the document.
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