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Monday, July 1, 2013

Nothing Is Guaranteed In The Open Water

After reading a variety of analyses and comments on the 2013 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim where fewer than half of the swimmers finished (read one comprehensive example here on Freshwater Swimmer), it is clear how advanced the sport of open water swimming has become.

Every year, NYC Swim conducts careful analyses of the tides around Manhattan Island and bases its decision on the precise start times of its races based on decades of its real-world experience and hard data from independent sources.

This is one clear example of the know-how, tools, and capabilities of the open water swimming world in the 21st century. Race directors and escort boat pilots can now, much more often than not, accurately predict and utilize the natural movement of water to the benefit of open water swimmers. Nowadays, race directors and escort pilots can instruct swimmers exactly where and when to start their swims often down to the minute. Augmented with modern-day technology based on a variety of calculations, swimmers are also often directed during their swims to maintain their pace or pick up their pace. In some cases, they are even told to slow down a bit in order to catch tidal flows and currents.

In some races and solo swims, swimmers even utilize scout boats to forge ahead in order to check out currents, eddies, and possible blooms of jellyfish or sharks. This information is radioed back to the mother ship and the swimmer and crew become even better informed as to what to expect and how to react.

With all this technology, know-how, and equipment combined with the increasingly high success rate of swimmers around the world, there is a growing expectation and understanding that swimmers are in good hands. Race directors and escort pilots increasingly have the experience, know-how, and tools to optimize the swimmer's start time, average pace per mile, feeding stops, and a variety of other elements in order to achieve success.

It was not always this way. Without GPS, without scout boats, without decades of real-world experience, many swimmers and support crews in the 20th century swam without the advantages of modern technology or know-how. If the conditions were not too windy and the tides were not too adverse, they entered the water and made a go at it.

"I am not sure, but we're almost there" or "Just keeping swimming" or "We have at least another 2 hours" were more likely an attempt of a description of the swimmer's position rather than the exact distance and specific coordinates obtained from a GPS device.

But even with the advanced technology, improved forecasting, and enhanced know-how, there is always inherent risk in the sport of open water swimming. Nothing should be taken for granted and nothing is guaranteed. Such in the nature of the sport for Mother Nature will always raise her ire at the most inopportune times. She will occasionally ante up the intensity of her storms, shift the direction of her winds, and add lightening to her precipitation. This is where the constant whims of nature can lead to cancelled swims, postponed swims, prematurely terminated swims, and swims that take much longer than expected.

But there is always another day.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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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...

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 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:

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


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