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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Who Will Define, Vet, And Adjudicate Marathon Swimming?

Some marathon swimmers have discussed a new policy of declaring their swims assisted or unassisted prior to their swim.

This is an admirable attempt in bringing uniformity and standardization across the globe in terms of how marathon swims are conducted in the established channels and lakes around the globe.

But the issue of standardization get a bit more complex when off-the-grid swims are performed (i.e., swims conducted outside the jurisdiction of established governing bodies).

We have several questions on how this new policy will be carried out:

1. Where will the swims be listed (either assisted or unassisted)? On what platform or archives or website?
2. Will the swims also be listed as assisted and unassisted in the local governing body that ratifies the swim?
3. What is the proper repository of records of marathon swims? Is it in the local governing body archives or a new global entity or organization - or both?
4. If it is with a new global organization, when and how will this organization be formed, administered and funded?
5. What is the definition of assisted and unassisted swims?
6. Who will define assisted and unassisted swims?
7. Who will observe, vet, and ratify assisted and unassisted swims?
8. Who will pay for these administrative activities (observing, vetting, and ratifying)?
9. What consists of a world record?
10. Where are these world records archived?
11. When were the terms assisted and unassisted first used and by whom?
12. What is the defined distance of a marathon swim?
13. Who consists of the marathon swimming community? Is it swimmers who have completed the English Channel or people who have done a professional marathon swim or all individuals who have done a swim of at least 10 km?
14. Will these decisions be made by popular vote or determined by a board of directors? If so, who elects the board of directors?
15. Will observers be trained, vetted, and supervised to serve as independent observers of off-the-grid swims?
16. How many off-the-grid swims are there on an annual basis?
17. What will be the process for submitting a swim to this new global organization?
18. Will past swims be a part of this database or archives?
19. Will past swims that did not follow the new rules be grandfathered in or deemed unacceptable (e.g., if a swimmer drafted off a boat or used a bubble cap or Shark Shield)?

Traditionally, it has been the long-standing policy in the marathon swimming world for each governing body to respect the decisions, scope, and authority of other local governing bodies. For example, the Channel Swimming Association is responsible for swims in the English Channel while the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation is responsible for swims in the Catalina Channel - and neither organization passes judgment on swims in other jurisdictions. That is, the decision for observing, vetting, and ratifying a marathon swim has traditionally been left up to the locals.

While the community of marathon swimmers is now discussing universal terms and definitions on what constitutes a marathon swim, it will be interesting to see what the outcome of these discussions will be and who will have final authority for making those decisions and managing the process in the future.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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