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Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ocean Swimming To Be Government-Regulated In L.A.

Time and time again, we have always opined that open water swimming in the Pacific Ocean is far more safe than cycling or running on the roads of Southern California (read "Is Swimming The Most Dangerous Leg In Triathlons?").

Based on the number of documented cycling accidents compared to the vastly fewer number of ocean swimming incidents, swimming in the ocean has always been safer than cycling. No comparison. Hands on, swimming is safer however way you measure it.

In the land of the ubiquitous automobile, congested streets, and road rage, there is always risk to one's life and limb while cycling on the roads. There are many triathletes and cyclists who know of fellow athletes who have been unfortunately hit or killed while cycling on the streets of L.A. Compare this number to the number of swimmers who have been hurt, rescued or killed while swimming in the Pacific Ocean.

The number of open water swimmers hurt, rescued or killed in the ocean compared to the number of road injuries and fatalities are so extraordinarily small.

But the County of Los Angeles is spending its limited resources on the employment of 8 enforcement officers to patrol the beaches of Los Angeles. Their job? To look for ocean swimmers breaking the law.

The law-breakers are now identified as any group of swimmers who gather for a workout or other joint training activity and who do not (a) have a permit, (b) pre-pay a US$200 administrative fee, (c) possess proof of liability insurance, and (d) reimburse Los Angeles County for the cost (US$50 per hour) of any extra lifeguards to watch over their swim. The law-breakers are identified by the 8 roaming enforcement officers onshore and can be fined between US$100 and US$500 for gathering without a permit.

The new governmental regulation and requirements are, frankly, oppressive, burdensome, and unnecessary. Kerry Silverstrom, chief deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors, explains the reasons for the new policy, "We want to make sure that we know when these groups are coming, so they don’t interfere with ordinary beach access or something we’ve scheduled, and so we can make sure that they’re safe."

So the publicly stated reasons for the new policy are public interference and private safety.

The enforcement officers are instructed to patrol the beaches and look out for groups of swimmers or triathletes who appear to be organized. "We’ll issue them a flyer the first time we meet them, and tell them that if they’re conducting a business or an organized activity, they need a permit," says Vivian Sanner, who is responsible for beach code enforcement at the Department of Beaches and Harbors.

"When 30 people jump in the water for a swim at seven in the morning, it’s really important that lifeguards be there," says Carol Baker. "Some of these meetup groups say they’re not organized and then you go online and see that they are."

But both reasons - public interference and private safety - are rooted in misinformation and miscalculation.

These regulations make no sense whatsoever.

We have never seen or heard of any group of ocean swimmers interfere with ordinary beach access. Never. Ever.

Not only are the numbers of swimmers too small to impact the wide open spaces of the Los Angeles beaches or parking availability, but swimmers also take up a miniscule amount of space both in the water and on the sand. Even when 1,200 swimmers compete in the annual Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim, by far the largest open water swimming event on the beaches of Southern California, the space they command in the water, on the sand, and in parking spots is tiny relative to what is available. And most of the other organized open water swims in Los Angeles have far fewer participants, especially training swims and meet-up groups. So to state that one reason for the new regulation is so swimmers will not interfere with beach access is simply not based on reality.

Of the thousands of beach saves made annually by Los Angeles County lifeguards, very few are made of swimmers or triathletes. Most saves, by far, are made by those who cannot swim or who do not regularly swim. Lifeguards rarely make saves of people who enter the water with goggles, swim caps, racing suits and wetsuits who are doing point-to-point swims or out-and-back swims. Extremely rarely. So to state that another reason for the new regulation is to make sure the swimmers are safe is also not based on reality.

What reasonable people and experienced open water swimming coaches always recommend is to swim in groups in the ocean. This is the safe way to swim. If anything, the government should be encouraging swimmers to swim in groups rather than push training sessions underground or at night when the officers head home.

Not only is the permit requirements expensive, especially for smaller groups and training sessions, but they are also cumbersome especially in terms of its insurance requirements.

As a result of the regulations, an immediate outcry from the targeted communities arose on social media. Individuals from triathlon teams to Scott Zornig of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association are using social media platforms in an attempt to overturn this unnecessary government oversight and unwise use of its resources. While we do not believe other California coastal jurisdictions will repeat the decisions of their colleagues in Los Angeles County, some swimmers believe this kind of policy will soon domino up and down the marine-sport-crazed state of California. "This [regulation] is upsetting because it sets a precedence that may lead to other government organizations considering this kind of arbitrary permit nonsense," says one long-time ocean swimmer. "Any of the county enforcement agents could research our activities and target us for fines. This does not bode well for open water swimming."

But we are more bullish that the sport of open water swimming will continue to grow and flourish while growing responsibly and unfettered by the grubby hands of local government officials. We are hopeful that the County of Los Angeles will do a cost-benefit analysis of its employment of 8 code enforcement officers in the future. Ultimately, we are hopeful that decision-makers will determine that this particular use of resources for this specific policy was unwise.

What are the alternatives? There are plenty.

What if the personnel costs of their 8 officers and the resources that are used to implement this rules were instead used to teach the children and parents of Los Angeles how to swim? Imagine if the 8 officers were experienced open water swimming coaches who could go to under-served communities and share their knowledge and passion of open water swimming? Or even, what if these resources were used to supply bigger buoys at designated or popular ocean swim courses? Or perhaps create a county-wide website focusing on the opportunities and challenges of open water swimming, augmented with a mobile app, that provides water temperature and water conditions and information on safe open water swimming courses throughout Los Angeles County? What if this money were used to encourage people how to protect our ocean or marine life - or for open water swimming clinics throughout the summer?

We compare what the County of Los Angeles has decided versus what other jurisdictions have done from Hawaii to New Hampshire. While the state of New Hampshire issued legislation years ago to give the right-of-way to open water swimmers in its lakes, the state of Hawaii designated separate lanes for swimmers and stand-up paddlers at its popular Ala Moana Beach.

Other jurisdictions have come up with innovative solutions that have enhanced the marine environment (see here). There are simply so many more useful allocations of funds and talents rather than what the County of Los Angeles came up with. Why would the government use its limited resources to police the aquatic activities of a small number of individuals who occasionally use the vast resources available at Los Angeles County beaches - instead of using its resources more intelligently as its leverages the local open water swimming community and educates others how to interact with the Pacific Ocean?

For more information on the Department of Beaches and Harbors usage policy governing the Los Angeles County beaches (see here), visit here.

Photo courtesy of Ray Hoffmann of swimmers at a government-approved ocean swim in Seal Beach.

Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association

3 comments:

  1. With this ordinance, LA County has succeeded in creating a problem where none existed.

    This is a GREAT thought:
    >>What if the employment costs of their 8 officers and the resources used to implement this rules, were used to teach children and parents how to swim?<<<

    I have heard in New Jersey, that swimmers are required to have a "swimming tag" ($30) and then are required to swim in front of a manned lifeguard tower (essentially forced to merely play in the waves). Ridiculous!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a great idea and concept to promote: "...what if these personnel resources were used to supply bigger buoys at designated or popular ocean swim courses or a county website, augmented with a mobile app, that provides water temperature and water conditions and safe open water swimming courses throughout Los Angeles County."

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree; The LABH is very poorly run. What you describe seems to be a a method for creating jobs for government employees rather than solving any problem. From meetings we've had with the department, they have voiced their funding concerns. It costs a lot to own, and manage water facilities I agree with that. However, I think there are a number of unneeded resources that add up to that tab as well. I wonder the cost effectiveness of the additional officers, in bringing revenue to the department.

    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.

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Agenda


Friday, 19 September

5:30

PM


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

9:00

AM


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

10:00

AM


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

10:20

AM


Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport

10:30

AM


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

10:50

AM


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

11:10

AM


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

11:30

AM


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)

12:30

PM


Coffee and Break

1:00

PM


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]


2:30

PM


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

2:50

PM


Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers

3:10

PM


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

3:30

PM


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

3:50

PM


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

5:00

PM


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]

6:30

PM


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

6:45

PM


Dinner

7:30

PM


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

9:00

AM


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

10:00

AM


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

10:20

AM


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

10:40

AM


Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World

11:00

AM


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

11:20

AM


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

12:00

PM


Survey distribution and group photo-taking

2:00

PM


Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute






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."


Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Swim Across the English Channel...

OWSM-CM

Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?

Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!

Open Water Swimming Magazine


Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
LEARN MORE

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.
LEARN MORE...

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
https://www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/preview-open-water-swimming-almanac


The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.

SponsorMySwim.com

Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program