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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pool Open Water In Japan

The open water swimming community is doing more and more POW (Pool Open Water) events, but the Japanese have really stepped it up a notch.

Instead of doing a POW competition in a rectangular 50-meter pool, the Oiso Prince Hotel hosted a POW event in its hotel facilities at its seaside resort location - near Tokyo and only steps away from the Pacific Ocean.

In the hotel's lazy river pool, the Oiso Long Beach 10 km Open Water Swimming Championships were held where swimmers had to complete a rectangular 500-meter long closed-circuit loop twenty times, counter-clockwise and without turns. The two long sides of the pool were 250 meters long and the width sides were 10 meters long.

It was the first time in competitive open water swimming history that a 3 km and 10 km races took place in a lazy river pool on a hotel property. With the water current temporarily stopped during the competition, Ayano Yamaguchi won the women's race in 2:00:30 and Olympic marathon swimmer Yasunari Hirai was the fastest man in 1:58:43. In the 3K race, Miwa Kohara won the women's race and Hironoshin Munakata won the men.

As can be expected, the opportunity for up-close-and-personal spectating was ideal. Over 800 fans and friends lined the pool deck to watch the nearly 200 swimmers.

This type of race that can be done in any number of hotel pools around the world is a great win-win situation for all involved. These 21 advantages come immediately to mind:

1. The hotel gets some additional guests
2. The hotel can promote a unique event that does not incur any significant additional resources
3. The athletes can compete year-round
4. The athletes can gain experience positioning, drafting and sighting in the comfortable confines of a pool before exploring open water in oceans or lakes
5. The water is a comfortable temperature
6. The competition and environment is safe and comfortable for nervous newcomers to open water swimming
7. Event sponsor signage is easily posted around the course
8. Announcing is easy
9. Spectating and cheering for athletes is convenient
10. Open water swimming simulations can be experienced by newcomers in a controlled environment before they head out to the real open water
11. Coaches can observe and help train and prepare their athletes with specific instruction and feedback
12. POW can be used when it is too cold or rough to train in oceans or lakes
13. Feeding stops are easily arranged
14. It is a TV friendly competition
15. Warm-ups and warm-downs are easily done
16. Heats can be set off with swimmers of similar ability
17. Heats can be determined relatively well by segregating by pool times
18. Turn buoys do not need to be large
19. No need for intermediate buoys
20. Officiating is easy - the race referees simply walk along the pool deck
21. Water clarity and water quality is not an issue. And neither are sharks or jellyfish

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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