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Monday, June 4, 2012

Medleying In The Open Water

Some swimmers use butterfly the last few meters of their open water swims. Many swimmers roll over on their backs and do backstroke during their swims to relieve their shoulders and necks. Others switch over to breaststroke for a change of pace or to get a better view of what lies ahead.

While all open water swims are technically freestyle events, mixing in butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke is occasionally used by some open water swimmers.

But there are also formal breaststroke open water swimming races held in the Netherlands and elsewhere. And there are also a small subset of open water swimmers who use non-freestyle strokes during their solo marathon swims. Examples of these non-freestyle records in the Catalina Channel and the English Channel include:

Butterfly, Catalina Channel: Vicki Keith (Canada) 14:53
Butterfly, English Channel: Julie Bradshaw (UK) 14:18

Backstroke,Catalina Channel: Tina Neill (USA) 10:37
Backstroke,English Channel: Tina Neill (USA) 13:22

Breaststroke, Catalina Channel: Jason Lassen (USA) 15:59
Breaststroke, English Channel: Frederik Jaques (Belgium) 13:31

Freestyle has never been the only way to go in the open water - Captain Matthew Webb gave a boost to the non-freestyle approach when he crossed the English Channel during breaststroke in 1875. From Chicago to the Netherlands, individuals are doing butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke on their open water swims of all distances.

Even individual medley has taken form from San Francisco to Dover. Across the Golden Gate Bridge course, Tom Keller, Michael Chase and Jon Ennis from the Dolphin Club did the Golden Gate Medley Swim on August 2010. Later, the Julie Bradshaw International Medley Relay completed the first individual relay swim across the English Channel.

Dale Petranech of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, has proposed specific guidelines and document traditions and records in non-traditional marathon swims around the world.

"There is a small group of swimmers that use non-conventional, non-freestyle strokes - backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, sidestroke and trudgeon strokes to swim the entire distance in open water swimming competitions, relays or solo swims. From the historical point of view, breaststroke was recognized as an official stroke and records posted accordingly. Most of the very early swims were breaststroke."

Despite these special strokes being listed, we are unable to find any records of rules or regulations pertain to the special strokes used in open water. For our pool swimming colleagues, most of the technical rules for the other strokes apply to starts and turns and limit the distance a person could remain underwater.

The interpretation of what FINA considers a legal stokes are in a constant state of review. Also, in the FINA Masters Swimming Rules, a breaststroke kick is permitted in the butterfly. Being practical, the pool stroke rules have little application to open water
."

It may be difficult or impossible for the sport of open water swimming to establish and maintain the stroke requirements as so specifically outlined in pool swimming. Petranech outlines examples of items that the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame is considering in open water swimming events. Its board of directors will discuss and develop reasonable guidelines for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Record a Swim Program on September 21st in Long Beach.*

1. Several organizations require that a swimmer start onshore, walk into the water, start swimming and finish after they clear the water on the opposite shore. Swimmers still need to conform to this requirement, but backstrokers need not walk in backwards and breaststrokers do not need to simultaneously touch the opposite shore with two hands.

2. It is impossible to maintain an acceptable stroke treading water while feeding or taking a short rest break. Swimmers need the latitude to stop using the stroke of choice during these periods. If a swimmer takes frequent feedings, the total number of stops may seem rather large. Feeding every half hour in a 10-hour swim means that swimmer would have up to twenty interruptions in the chosen specialty stroke. Breaks in the traditional specialty swim stroke would result in only brief periods when the swimmer was treading water. As long as no major distance (e.g., over 2 meters) is covered during these feeding stops, the swim can be considered a non-stop specialty stroke swim.

3. Because of surf conditions, the swimmer may be battered about and not be able to keep their precise stroke symmetry at all times or may be rolled over from his/her backstroke position. In these and similar situations, the swimmer cannot be held responsible for not maintaining a proper stroke according to traditional pool swimming rules.

4. If a swimmer has an encounter with marine life (e.g., sharks or jellyfish) or becomes entangled in seaweed, flotsam or jetsam, the swimmer may not be able to keep their precise stroke symmetry at all times or may be shocked from their normal specialty stroke position. In these and similar situations, the swimmer should be allowed a reasonable time and distance to free themselves from immediate danger or risk of injury.

5. If swimmers so designate their swim as following the acceptable masters pool swimming rule, swimmers may use the masters swimming rule permitting a breaststroke kick while swimming butterfly.

6. As fatigue sets in butterfly or the water conditions get very rough, swimmers may have problems getting their arms completely out of the water that could result in a sideward splash and technically an illegal stroke from the perspective of a pool swimming official. The proposal calls for acceptance of these situations until the swimmer is no longer able get their arms out of the water. In these cases, the swimmer and observer would acknowledge the situation and could declare the special stroke swim over with the option of continuing freestyle.

7. In the case of nighttime swimming during a backstroke swim, swimmers may temporarily lose sight of their escort boat. In these cases, an ability to overlook a rolling over on the stomach or side should be allowed for safety purposes.

8. If swimmers decide to abandon the special stroke swim for any reason (e.g., safety, lack of an ability to see), they can always continue swimming as a freestyle swimmer.

* The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame board of directors meeting will be held at the Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach, California on September 21st. Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

1 comment:

  1. Steve,

    Thanks for publishing this article. I look forward to seeing what the board of directors decides to do with alternative stroke swims. As a long distance breaststroker it is nice to hear that this issue is on the radar of the open water community.

    Thanks again,
    Jason Lassen

    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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