DNOWS Header

Image Map

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Do You Measure Open Water Swims?

Some people claim and many media reports state certain distances across the English Channel and other marathon swims around the world. Often, these reported distances are longer than the accepted straight-line distance accepted by the global open water swimming community. Sometimes much longer.

No one can swim perfectly straight from point to point due to imperfect swimming technique, currents, tides, waves, surface chop, swells, fog, poor visibility and other factors.

Fortunately, with modern-day GPS technology and handy tools like Google Earth, measuring a course is quite easy and accurate.

But documenting a swim should be based off the shortest straight-line tangent between the the start and finish. In other words, if the shortest distance between the start and finish is 10 kilometers, but a swimmer drifts 2 kilometers, the swimmer is properly credited with a swim of 10 kilometers - not 12 kilometers.

This is common whether the swim is across the English Channel, a shoreline swim or a marathon swim of any type.

Plain and simple, swimmers go off-course. This is without a doubt. But the global open water swimming community also stresses and accepts that the straight line tangent is the standard form of measurement in their sport.

Chris Guesdon of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame reiterates, "Straight line point-to-point is the only way to measure all swims. It is irrelevant where the wind, tides or currents take the swimmers. The question should always be, 'Did you complete the task, starting point to finishing point, and how long did it take?' An English Channel crossing is the best example. It’s England to France, without assistance, with an independent observer [to verify the swim]."

John Dussliere, an American Olympic swimming coach, also agrees, "Straight line tangent is the only way to standardize the distance. Otherwise, swimmers would have to follow another swimmer’s path in order to beat their time and set a record. Marathon swimming is about braving the elements and the swimmer’s ability to time the currents, navigate and handle the elements that can be measured against others."

Liz Fry, race director for the Swim Across the Sound and a Triple Crown swimmer herself also explains other perspectives, "The straight-line tangent distance is the most normalized measure of the distance, similar to sailboat races. Speed is gained by adding distance and 'tacking' into the current/tide. The sea conditions, currents, tides and weather are all part of the sport and need to be planned for as best as possible. GPS provides interesting data for the swimmers and their pilots, but I see it more as a navigational tool during the swim for real-time adjustments based on swim conditions and swimmer speed [rather than a means to measure the distance of the swim]. If the search is for actual swimming distance, it will be complicated since consideration would have to be given to both horizontal and vertical distance. We would need to find a method to account for wave height in the distance as well."

Jim Barber, another Triple Crown swimmer, brings up another complication, "Measuring point A to point B is the way to go. We can’t start measuring what a swimmer swims in total distance because this becomes way too subjective for readings and measurements."

Captain Tim Johnson of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and author of the book, The History of Open-Water Marathon Swimming, agrees and brings up a different point about land-to-land and staged swims. "The straight line distance should be used unless there is a land mass that a swimmer or boat would have to deviate around in which case it would be the shortest swimming distance going around the deviation. If a swimmer starts or finishes from an in-the-water point, I could consider a swim where the start or finish was located in the water adjacent to land where adjacent means within sight and hearing of spectators. Using a navigational buoy is a useful substitute because they are marked on charts. GPS is great for finding locations and I used it on Skip Storch’s swim down the Hudson River which was a staged swim. Skip would pick up his swim from a point behind where he left off the previous stage (day) and use GPS to mark the finish of a stage in order to use for resuming the swim the next time. GPS uses a reference to an imaginary grid laid over the earth and, as such, there are an infinite number of locations. The issue with records is they have to be repeatable so another person can attempt to break a previous record so the starting location is key. Before GPS there was Loran, but no one used or claimed a record based on Loran readings as far as I know."

In summary, governing bodies, swimmers, coaches, administrators and media representatives should use the straight-line distance measured in kilometers, statute miles or nautical miles. Using any other means of measurement simply confuses the situation.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

1 comment:

  1. From time to time I hear/read people say that they had to swim more miles because of the tide. Assuming the swimmer swims in a straight line in the direction of the closest opposite shore, it matters not if the tide pushes you up and down the Channel. For example, if a GPS reads 30 mile covered, and your pilot lands you at the closest opposite shore, the additional distance is just how far the tide took you. If your heading stays perpendicular then you only swam a distance equal to the shortest distance. However, if you land in a some other place, that is an entirely different matter.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Swim Across the English Channel...

OWSM-CM

Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?

Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!

Open Water Swimming Magazine


Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
LEARN MORE

The Other Shore


The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
LEARN MORE...

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
https://www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/preview-open-water-swimming-almanac


The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.

SponsorMySwim.com

Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program