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Saturday, June 22, 2013
Ocean Swimming To Be Government-Regulated In L.A.
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
2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
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
Swim Across the English Channel...
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 MagazineThe 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...
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.
2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn 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:
The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.