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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Unspoken, Unwritten Etiquette Of Open Water Drafting

It is unfair. It is frustrating. It is cheating.

So goes the thought process of some open water swimmers. It is classic tactics. It is strategic. It is all part of the sport. So goes the completely reverse thought process of other open water swimmers. Which is correct? Is drafting cheating or is it strategic? Is it unfair or is it part of the sport? Neither side of the argument will ever convince the other side of their viewpoint of drafting. It is a debate without conclusion.

Our viewpoint most definitely sides with those who think drafting is part of the sport.

But the question remains: in a draft-legal open water swimming competition, is it good or bad etiquette to draft off another person for all, majority or any part of a race, and then swing around and try to beat them at the end?

At the highest end of the competitive open water swimming, professional marathon races or triathlons, this is precisely the well-accepted and understood strategy of all swimmers and triathletes. But what about at local open water swims among amateurs and masters swimmers? We believe drafting is fair and part of the sport, but there also is an unspoken and unwritten etiquette that is also part of the sport. Fundamentally and specifically, impeding by occasional hitting or pulling on the lead swimmer is flat-out unfair, continuous tapping on the feet of the lead swimmer is simply uncool. This is true whether or not there are officials in the race. While we do not believe that swimmers should necessarily take turns at leading as well as drafting, we are also unequivocally believe that impeding another swimmer's progress is an act of unsportsmanlike behavior at any level whether at the professional or amateur level. The purposeful act of impeding especially feels wrong among amateurs who simply want to participate for fitness and a sense of accomplishment.

Among professional swimmers and competitive elite and masters swimmers, drafting is an acquired and respected skill. Among these swimmers, there is a healthy respect for those who draft and position well and then are able to sprint to victory (e.g., replicating The Ilchenko).

Among professional open water swimmers, tapping on an opponent's feet and trying to "get inside the head" of one's competitors while drafting is also a tactic that some athletes employ. But drafting without physicality is what the very best do extraordinarily well, from Maarten van der Weijden to Thomas Lurz.

While some athletes are renowned for leading races from the front, most pros and amateurs prefer to draft strategically and make their moves during the late stages of races. They know that they can effectively conserve their energy through drafting and smart positioning and then moving into the lead or near the leader with 5-10% of the race left.

While some individuals might think this strategy is unfair, ANY and ALL swimmers have the opportunity to draft in a competitive environment,

But for individuals who simply want to enjoy a race and the camaraderie of open water swimming while swimming from Point A to Point B, we agree that drafting behind or alongside and then "sprinting" ahead "to win" can be viewed as poor etiquette. Certainly, tapping on the feet and constantly bumping into lead swimmer is in poor taste.

As a countermeasure in cases where you are being bothered by someone behind you, we recommend swimming laterally - even for a few meters or strokes - and the problem often resolves itself. Alternatively - and this has occurred at the professional and competitive levels - the lead swimmer can also simply stop or do some easy backstroke or breaststroke until the trailing swimmer has passed and you have switched positions on your drafting opponent.

Photo of swimmers drafting at the European Open Water Swimming Championships by Giorgio Scala.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
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

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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.

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Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
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