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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Time Will Tell How Changes Impact The Open Water World

Evan Morrison (on left), Andrew Malinak, Donal Buckley, and Elaine Howley announced the MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming this week.

Subsequent to their announcement, the landscape of the marathon swimming world is changing and adapting based on the impact of these Rules of Marathon Swimming.

We wonder how much will this impact become, both in the short term and long term?

Will swimmers do anything differently than before based on these rules? Will the media report anything differently?

If we look back in hindsight, if these rules had existed in 2013, would the media have covered Diana Nyad any differently? Would her accomplishment from Cuba to Florida have been treated any differently? And looking out towards the future, will the precedent that Jamie Patrick will set in his 90-mile (144.8 km) Great Lake Swim in August 2014 become the standard to which all future solo marathon swimmers attempting an ungoverned swim will be held?

It will certainly be interesting to find out and only time will tell.

The purpose of the MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming are stated as follows:

1. Purpose
The Marathon Swimmers Federation (MSF) Rules of Marathon Swimming are a set of standards and guidelines for undertaking a solo, unassisted open-water marathon swim in any body of water.

MSF Rules may be used by any swimmer who wishes to attempt a swim for which there is no local governing body. They also may be used by local governing bodies wishing to adopt a global standard — or as a foundation upon which to establish local exceptions.

MSF Rules do not override local rules — they aim to codify their shared spirit.


Currently, there are hundreds of existing governing bodies around the world that oversee solo swims and relays - from the Channel Swimming Association that governs swims across the English Channel and was established in 1927 to the Ka'iwi Channel Association that governs swims across the Molokai Channel and was established in 2013.

Examples of governing body include the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, Channel Swimming & Piloting Association, and the Asociacion de cruce a nado del Estrecho de Gibraltar, NYC Swim, British Long Distance Swimming Association and the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association, Fédération Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) and its 202 member federations (essentially the national governing bodies of countries from Great Britain and Germany to Australia and New Zealand), Farallon Islands Swimming Association, Lake Tahoe Swimming Society, International Ice Swimming Association, Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, Vancouver Open Water Swimming Association, Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association, Japan International Open Water Swimming Association, Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association, Tsugaru Strait Swimming Association, Menorca Channel Swimming Association, Association of Korea Open Water Swimming, Universal Marathon Cold Swimming Association, L.O.S.T. Swimming, Dubai Open Water Swimming Sports Association, Great Lakes Open Water Swimming Association, Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association, World Open Water Swimming Association, Lake Erie Open Water Swimming Association, International Winter Swimming Association, World Professional Marathon Swimmers Federation and others.

Many of these governing bodies, associations, sanctioning bodies and federations have histories and reasons for their rules based on local traditions and precedents by swimmers of previous eras.

So it will be interesting to see if these governing bodies adopt the recommended global standard.

It will also be interesting to see how many swimmers will post these MSF Rules on their websites and blogs as their standards to follow in their own swims during 2014 and beyond.

It will also be interesting to see how many new governing bodies (that have yet to be created) in different local areas will adopt the recommended standards in the future.

Time will tell.

With 70% of the Planet Earth water and millions of people taking to it, there is a lot to organize.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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