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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Open Water Swimmers Going Through Security

Open water swimmers take all kinds of things with them on their travels, through airports and on boats. GPS units, feeding sticks, hand paddles, whistles, bags of goo, lanolin, and tubs of powdered drink formulations. Passing through American airports with these items in carry-on bags is frequently an opportunity to educate the security agents from the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) about the sport of open water swimming.

This is an example of conversations that have been exchanged between TSA agents and open water swimmers:

TSA Agent: "Can you step over here please? May be re-check your bag?"
Open Water Swimmer: "Yes, no problem."
TSA Agent [pulling out an enormous tub of endurance drink powder]: "We have to dust this powder for explosives. What is it?"
Open Water Swimmer: "It is powder that I mix with water on my swims."
TSA Agent [puzzled]: "Water for your swims?"
Open Water Swimmer: "No, I mix the powder with water FOR my races. They're long marathon swims."
TSA Agent: "Like protein powder?"
Open Water Swimmer: "It has some protein in it, but it is largely carbohydrates that we take at feeding stations."
TSA Agent: "Feeding? Do you eat it?"
Open Water Swimmer: "No I drink it. On my feeding stops where my coach is on a floating pontoon. But sometimes we have escort boats and my coach hands it to me with a feeding stick."
TSA Agent: "You drink on a feeding stop? With a feeding stick?"
Open Water Swimmer: "Sometimes. But I mostly drink and listen to my coach and crew. And sometimes I stretch out my back."
TSA Agent: "So you drink and stretch and sometimes you eat and listen? In the ocean?"
Open Water Swimmer: "Yes, sometimes I do all four."
TSA Agent: "While swimming? In the water?"
Open Water Swimmer: "Yes, except when I am crewing and mixing. On the boat. Or pontoon."
TSA Agent: "I thought you were in the water? Or are you on the boat eating and drinking?"
Open Water Swimmer: "Sometimes, I am the swimmer drinking the powder with water in the water. But sometimes I am on the boat as a crew member. Then I do the mixing and feeding. Oh...maybe that is TMI."
TSA Agent [with a confused look]: "Mixing drinks? This is not alcoholic, right?"
Open Water Swimmer: "Yes. I mean no. I mean I pour the powder in a container with water and then throw it overboard to the swimmer in the water. Sometimes, at night. But if I am the swimmer, then I drink it at a feeding stop."
TSA Agent [with a really confused look]: "Here's your powder. I don't understand it, but good luck anyway."

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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