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Monday, September 5, 2011

When Open Water Swimmers And Boaters Intersect

One of the world's absolutely best open water swims, the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean, the organizers provide numerous safety procedures and policies that are world class based on their decades of successful, safe swimming.

One of their safety issues relates to the protection of swimmers in the water. The Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean provides customized prop guards so swimmers cannot be cut by boat propellers.

These are especially important because the professional marathon swimmers who compete in the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean and other professional races not only swim closely to one another, but the athletes' coaches also direct their boat drivers to get close to their athletes which means that boat propellers and swimmers can be dangerously close proximity.

In the heat of competition, a few coaches think only of their swimmer without regard to other swimmers in the race. Additionally, over a long marathon swim, anyone can get a bit inattentive and accidents can happen.

In order to prevent any potential problems and unintended accidents, the far forward looking organizers of the Traversée wisely installed prop guards many years ago.

Similarly, Tom Hecker, a renowned channel swimmer, has proposed use of the Prop Guard because of his own close calls with propellers during his swims.

"It happened after I completed my Straits of Gibraltar swim. I was approaching the Zodiac where my driver, lifeguard and wife were. The driver was positioning the Zodiac next to the pilot boat while preparing to transfer the lifeguard, my wife and supplies to the pilot boat and while I was swimming in from the shore. I approached the driver from behind on his right side. The driver was concentrating on the transfer. The two boats separated when a wave hit, so he gunned the motor to get the boats closer. His attention was on the transfer and the position of the boats. At that instant the swimmer was forgotten. I saw the prop spin in front of my hand as I was taking another stroke. My wife screamed and the motor and prop were stopped. That instant could have been disastrous."

These situations happen more often than most people realize, both in solo channel swims and relays and in races around the world. Tom asks, "Perhaps a Prop Guard at US$250 should be mandatory on all swimmer support vessels?"

We recommend the following when boaters and swimmers intersect on the open water:

When a boater is caught in a pack with swimmers all around (left, right, front, rear), do not panic. Take the boat out of gear, turn the motor off, wait until the swimmers are safely clear, and then resume operations. Because the prop may still turn with the boat our of gear and the motor off, consider putting the boat back in gear (with the motor off) to stop the prop.

There have been plenty of times when a boat loses steering control and has turned into a group of swimmers. Because of these situations, emergency actions should be reviewed in the Captains meeting. While constant vigilance is always the primary goal, there are moments and situations occur that are inevitable, such as when the sun's glare reduces a pilot's view, waves causes problems or there are mechanical difficulties.

When swimmers and boats are in close proximity to each other, getting the prop stopped and making the vessel safe should be the primary concern. While swimmers may swim into the vessel which can hurt, having them get hit by a spinning prop is disastrous.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

2 comments:

  1. Thoughts and Prayers
    San Mateo Swimmer severely injured
    Maui Channel Swim

    John Coughlin of the San Mateo Athletic Club was severely injured when he was sucked in the propeller wash of a nearby boat. The 41 year old swimmer from Half Moon Bay was about the finish the 9.6 mile Maui Channel Swim.

    John was immediately taken to near by Maui Memorial Medical Center when he underwent an 8 hour operation. It has been reported that John has lost part of one of arm and three fingers on the hand of the other arm.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with John and his family. As information becomes available, it will be posted on the web site.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Many new pilot boats for harbor pilots are jet drive to eliminate the possibility of prop injuries in a man in the water situation. Prop guards are a cheaper solution, and will help a lot to minimize the chance of accidents.

    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

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