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Thursday, November 14, 2013
Differences Between Pool And Open Water Relays
Their research showed that freestyle swimmers at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games swam faster in the relay than in the individual competition when swimming at the relay’s later positions. Using aggregated data of freestyle and medley relays from the final heats of the four most recent Summer Olympic Games, they demonstrated that high specificity of information on the partners’ performance is a precondition for indispensability effects to occur. As expected, motivation gains in the relay as compared to the individual competition were demonstrated for swimmers at relay positions 2–4, but only in freestyle relays where effort and efficiency of preceding swimmers could be reliably assessed by swimmers. In medley relays, where such feedback is more ambiguous, no motivation gains occurred (see here).
So we wondered if the same were true in open water swimming relays. That is, do swimmers swim faster on their relay legs than they would in their individual swims (of the same distance and under similar water/weather conditions)?
We will post these results shortly.
But there are major differences between pool swimming and open water swimming relays:
Members of the pool relay team can swim the entire relay distance by themselves, if they had to. That is, a butterflyer could swim the backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle legs IF they had to do so. A 100m freestyle swimming could swim the entire 400m distance if he had to. In contrast, members of the open water swimming relay team can not swim the entire relay distance by themselves in many cases (e.g., across Lake Tahoe or the English Channel).
In open water swimming relays, the team is entirely dependent on the successful completion of each leg. That is, there is no "speed" in which they are measured. No time is taken; open water relay members are merely judged if they can swim for 30-60 minutes (or whatever their specific leg duration is). That is, speed does not matter - only duration. So while the pool swimmers have more adrenaline flowing and speed going in a relay, the open water swimmers are swimming for duration (i.e., survival).
Furthermore, the cost of a pool swimming relay per athlete is very low compared to the cost of an open water swimming relay per member. That is, it may cost only 5 euros per relay per athlete to participate in a pool swimming relay. But it may cost many (hundreds or thousands of) euros per athlete to participate in an open water swimming relay somewhere around the world.
Because conditions can change quickly in the open water from calm to rough, from cool to cold, swimmers are less focused on speed than simply being part of the rotation.
Photos of the Bering Strait Swim courtesy of Nuala Moore.
Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association
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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.
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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.
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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.
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