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Monday, April 16, 2012

Using Shark Shields In Open Water Swimming

Penny Palfrey is also the only known open water swimmer to have swum near (over) two Great White Sharks and several oceanic white tips and other unnamed sharks both in broad daylight and at night during her marathon swims.

So it is no wonder that she uses the Shark Shield as her sense of self-preservation is certainly well warranted.

But it appears that Mike Spalding of Maui has been the only swimmer who has had human flesh taken out of his body by an attacking shark, creating a huge pool of blood and requiring immediate intervention by his support crew in Hawaii during a marathon swim (by a cookie cutter shark).

But there is still an interest in protecting oneself against the most menacing creatures in the seas with electronic shark shields.

A review of the governing bodies in the sport of open water swimming tells a varied view of these bits of equipment:

Nick Adams of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation explains about the English Channel community's relationship with sharks, "We have never had an occasion when we felt a shark cage was needed; that is, [there have been] no nasty sharks in the English Channel until now. If a swimmer had a particularly nervous disposition, and felt they really needed a shark cage or shark shield in the English Channel, and were swimming with the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation, we'd put their request to the Committee for a ruling. Shark shields and cages are not mentioned in our rules. We can't start to pre-empt what might be used, as the rules would instantly double in size. Most people understand what a normal English Channel swim looks like, and if they want to change this, we'll tackle it then."

Scott Zornig of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association has a slightly different perspective, "We allow the use of a Shark shield [but] Penny Palfrey is the only person to have used one during a Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association crossing."

Theodore Yach who has swum under the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association has, understandably a different view, "Great White Shark activity has increased 10 fold in Cape Town [South Africa] waters in the last 10 years, albeit mainly on the False Bay side. A swimmer would be crazy to attempt a race or crossing without a shark shield." Andrew Chin, another prolific Cape Town swimmer, explains, "The Cape Long Distance Swimming Association encourages swimmers to use a Shark Shield when attempting any of our swims, although its not compulsory. The shield in no way assists the swimmer. In fact, a shock from it can have the opposite effect. What it does do is add an extra level of protection when swimming in waters where sharks frequent."

Mike Read, president of the oldest channel organization, the Channel Swimming Association, balances both sides, "I can well understand that this product could have an important place in swimming in South African waters, but it is something that we have never had to consider. I would imagine that we would take the view that, like lanolin and Vaseline, if you want to use it you can. As for a shark cage, I think we would take the view that it is actually a swimming aid and very difficult not to touch it, but I have never been in one."

Kevin Murphy also talks about shark cages, "If you talk about a shark cage, it doubles your speed, but it is like swimming in your own personal washing machine. You also risk losing toes if you ease up and hit the back while still kicking - that from personal experience. Also, if there are jellyfish they build up on the front and filter through as jellyfish soup."

Rafael Gutiérrez Mesa describes the use of such products in the Strait of Gibraltar under the rules of the Asociacion de cruce a nao del Estrecho de Gibraltar, "In the Strait of Gibraltar, there are not any type of dangerous sharks [So] we do not advice use of any type of device that may be a problem for the swimmer. Our team permits any shark can approach to the boats. In conclusion, a shark shield is not allowed in the Strait of Gibraltar, but we can permit use of other types of electronic devices from the boats."

Similarly, the Farallon Islands Swimming Association that governs swims between the Golden Gate Bridge and the Farallon Islands do not use electronic shark shields. Co-founder Vito Bialla explains, "We’d like to encourage safe swimming with the federation. We’re not seals, though, and the sharks don’t want to get near the boat with its propeller. If you’re in their element and don’t give off the fear radar, they’ll leave you alone."

Co-founder Phil Cutti further explains, "There are a few reasons we do not allow the use of the shark shield or any devices or weapons that would endanger or effect marine life. The Farallon Islands Swimming Association has a "leave no trace" policy that is in alignment with the islands and the waters around them being a sanctuary. We are well aware of the marine life that surrounds the islands and have put in many hours of research and reaching out to experts who know these waters. We believe we have put forth every effort to protect the swimmer, the crew, the islands and marine life. Yes, there are sharks, and have full disclosure with everyone interested in swimming this channel. We know, through research and communication with experts in this very small area of the Pacific, the patterns of and seasons of higher risk and accept that. We offer a true experience of swimming from point a to point b with no swim aid." However, shark shields are available for use in the channels of Hawaii and Japan for swims governed by the Hawaiian Channel Swim Association and the Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association respectively.

Forrest Nelson, president of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, admits that few use electronic shark shields in the Catalina Channel, but that they are legal. "Only on very rare occasions has a swimmer opted for the Shark Shield in a Catalina Channel Swimming Federation sanctioned swim."

The Rottnest Channel Swim currently allows for their use and is reviewing the use of these shark deterrents for its events in the future. "We did advise swimmers these were available [in 2012] and essentially we would allow them to be worn as we viewed them as constituting a similar device as the timing strap our swimmers wear around their ankle anyway. We will be looking at the matter closely in the lead up to the next event on February 23rd in 2013 to formally decide what our position is on these devices."

In the Cook Strait, "We have sightings every year," described the famed Philip Rush. "We have a rule that the swimmer may leave the water for 10 minutes but they must stay in same position in small boat. The large support boat will chase shark away. This is a very old rule that has been used 3 times to my knowledge. It seems to have worked."

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

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

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Agenda

Friday, 19 September



Welcome Reception at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

Documentary films shown throughout the reception:

Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa – Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way
(film by Bruckner Chase)

Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain
(film by Wayne Ewing about Matthew Moseley's Lake Pontchartrain crossing)

Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska
(film by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko about the relay between Russia and Alaska)

The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau
(film about Simon Holiday's Pearl River Delta crossing)

Saturday, 20 September



Registration and Coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland



Keynote Speech:
Colleen Blair (Scotland) on The History of Scottish Swimming



Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport



Colin Hill (England) on Recent Explosion in UK Open Water



Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) on The Feminine Code of Achievement - How a Lady from Down Under Revolutionized Professional Marathon Swimming



Simon Murie (England) on Open Water Swimming Holidays: How A New Sector Was Created Within The Travel Industry



Swimming The Oceans Seven
A round table discussion moderated by:
Kevin Murphy (England), with Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden),
Darren Miller (USA), Adam Walker (England), Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand)



Coffee and Break



World Open Water Swimming Awards Luncheon:
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA)

Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year

Olga Kozydub (Russia), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year

Bering Strait Swim, 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year

Honoring: Vladimir Chegorin, Maria Chizhova, Elena Guseva, Ram Barkai, Jack Bright, Oksana Veklich, Aleksandr Jakovlevs, Matías Ola, Henri Kaarma, Toomas Haggi, Nuala Moore, Anne Marie Ward, Toks Viviers, Melissa O’Reilly, Ryan Stramrood, Cristian Vergara, Craig Lenning, Rafal Ziobro, Andrew Chin, Jackie Cobell, James Pittar, Paolo Chiarino, Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen, Ivan Papulshenko, Zdenek Tlamicha, Zhou Hanming, Oleg Adamov, Andrei Agarkov, Alekseev Semen, Tatiana Alexandrova, Roman Belan, Elena Semenova, Alexander Brylin, Afanasii Diackovskii, Vladimir Nefatov, Evgenii Dokuchaev, Oleg Docuckaev, Roman Efimov, Dmitrii Filitovich, Olga Filitovich, Victor Godlevskiy, Olga Golubeva, Alexei Golubkin, Alexander Golubkin, Alexandr Iurkov, Oleg Ivanov, Pavel Kabakov, Eduard Khodakovskiy, Aleksandr Komarov, Aleksandr Kuliapin, Andrey Kuzmin, Irina Lamkina, Vladimir Litvinov, Andrey Mikhalev, Victor Moskvin, Nikolay Petshak, Sergey Popov, Vladimir Poshivailov, Grigorii Prokopchuk, Dmitrii Zalka, Natalia Seraya, Viacheslav Shaposhnikov, Olga Sokolova, Andrei Sychev, Alexei Tabakov, and Nataliia Usachaeva [represented by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko and Nuala Moore]



Alexey Salmin Pavlovich (Russia) and Dmitry Dragozhilov (Russia)
on the 2016 Winter Swimming World Championships [film]



Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers



Dmitry Blokhin (Russia) and Aleksei Veller (Russia)
on the First World Ice Swimming Championships [film]



Matthew Moseley (USA)’s Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain [film]



Simon Holliday (England) and Doug Woodring (Hong Kong)’s The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau 2014 [film]



International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF)

IMSHOF Induction Ceremonies and Dinner
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA).

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Elizabeth Fry (USA), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • James Anderson (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Dr. Jane Katz (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Indonesian Swimming Federation Open Water Committee (Indonesia), IMSHOF Honour Organisation

  • Melissa Cunningham (Australia), Irving Davids – Captain Roger Wheeler Award by the International Swimming Hall of Fame and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Sandra Bucha (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Jon Erikson (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer [represented by Sandra Bucha]



International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Introduction Video.
Welcome speech by host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)






International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
Induction Ceremonies and Dinner with host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Mercedes Gleitze (England)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by daughter Doloranda Pember]

  • Dale Petranech (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Contributer and IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Claudio Plit (Argentina)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Shelley Taylor-Smith]

  • Judith van Berkel-de Nijs (Netherlands)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Niek Kloots]

  • George Young (Canada)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation]

  • David Yudovin (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

Sunday, 21 September



Registration and coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland



Nuala Moore (Ireland) on The Mindset of 1000m at 0ºC



Admiral Konstantin Sidenko (Russia)’s Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska in 2013 [film]



Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World



Bruckner Chase (USA)’s Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa
Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way



Rok Kerin (Slovenia) on Lifestyle Benefits From Open Water Swimming



Survey distribution and group photo-taking



Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute


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."

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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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.

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An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

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