DNOWS Header

Image Map

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wristwatches Are A No, But GPS Is A Yes

When Jason Lassen swam across the Catalina Channel in 2010, he channeled the spirit of Captain Matthew Webb in ways that most marathon swimmers do not.

Lassen (shown on left) completed his crossing of the Catalina Channel by swimming breaststroke as Captain Matthew Webb did across the English Channel and he did it without the use of GPS technology just as generations of marathon swimmers did throughout the 20th century.

But Lassen was not the first person to swim across the Catalina Channel breaststroke and without GPS. In 1927, Henry Sullivan became the second man to swim the channel in a time of 22 hours 45 minutes. Lassen beat Sullivan's time handily in 15 hours and 59 minutes, but Lassen explains, “I wanted to make my swim as fair as I could, so we did the swim without GPS.”

Which brings up an interesting, albeit minor, point about the new Rules of Marathon Swimming recently issued by the Marathon Swimmers Federation.

Co-authored by Evan Morrison, Andrew Malinak, Donal Buckley, and Elaine Howley, the rules allow use of GPS technology and interactive media on the escort boat (e.g., information exchange via Facebook or mobile devices), but wristwatches are not allowed.

As stated by the co-authors, the Marathon Swimmers Federation Rules of Marathon Swimming are "...guided by the traditions and spirit of unassisted marathon swimming." Specifically, "marathon swimmers embrace the challenge of crossing wild, open bodies of water with minimal assistance beyond their own innate physical strength and mental fortitude. There are ways to make the sport easier, but marathon swimmers consciously eschew them.

Marathon swimmers take pride that their achievements can be meaningfully compared to the achievements of previous generations, because the standard equipment of the sport has not changed significantly since 1875
."

Electronic devices that transmit information to the swimmer – from wristwatches to biofeedback monitors - are not allowed. However, the use of GPS technology is. GPS may have been eschewed by Lassen, but GPS is readily embraced by nearly every other channel swimmer, marathon swimmer, their pilots and their crews. GPS has, in essence and nearly ubiquitously, become an integral part of the sport as swimmers and their teams have become dependent upon the technology.

But the differentiation between GPS and wristwatches seems a tad inconsistent to us. For the benefits of wearing a wristwatch pale in comparison with the use of GPS in marathon swims - especially in channel swims done at night, in terrible weather, across strong currents and tidal flows, and in the fog and rain.

Some pilots still remember the days of celestial navigation with a sextant back in the previous century. Other pilots remember escorting swimmers guided by the lights on the distant shoreline - and being worried when fogged in. And most pilots readily admit that contemporary marathon swimmers and channel swimmers are greatly aided by GPS.

"GPS a game changer," said one pilot experienced in the Pacific Ocean. "You can be absolutely accurate in fog and zero visibility . Drifting current are now not a problem. You can stay on the right course and know exactly where you are. And, of course, in case of an emergency, you can tell rescue exactly where you are within a couple feet."

So while the marathon and channel swimmers have outlawed wristwatches, the community has not been immune to utilizing other kinds of improved technologies and new equipment to help athletes achieve their dreams. From the wool suits of the era of Captain Webb to the synthetic fibers used by contemporary athletes in their high-tech jammers, equipment in the marathon swimming continues to advance. Cumbersome goggles with large rubber gaskets have given way to comfortably-fitting optical and prescription goggles. Coffee, tea and brandy has given way to scientifically-formulated hydration drinks. But nothing has arguably been as beneficial to marathon swimmers of the 21st century as the incredibly convenient and accurate GPS.

"GPS largely takes the uncertainty out of escorting swimmers across channels, bays, seas and around islands. The talents and know-how of experienced mariners are still an absolute need, but GPS allows the pilots, crews and swimmer to have confidence that they are swimming on the optimal or particular course," says Steven Munatones of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. "With GPS, swimmers and crew can know if they are on their pre-determined rhumb line or what their position is and how far to go. These are navigational advantages that were not available to swimmers in previous centuries, especially when swimming at night, or under cloudy or foggy conditions."

But wristwatches were not always banned in the sport. Frankly, few governing bodies specifically ruled out the use of wristwatches by swimmers.

Penny Dean who set the English Channel record in 1978 in 7 hours 40 minutes after setting the one-way (7 hours 15 minutes in 1976) and two-way (20 hours 3 minutes in 1977) crossings of the Catalina Channel, recalls her use of technology: as in wristwatches, but not GPS. "We used watches on swims in England. I never swam with a watch before then. The funny thing in England was I wore a Timex, but it gained time as I swam. When I thought I was done, I would stop only to hear my mom yell at me and say, 'I had two more minutes.' Before GPS, we used radar and swam an extra 2 to 4 miles. GPS allows the swimmer to swim in a straight line saving any drift."

But at the end of the day and the start of every swim, GPS, wristwatch or not, a swimmer has still gotta swim.

And you gotta respect that.

NOTE: The complete Rules of Marathon Swimming and its latest updates, additions and modifications are listed here.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see a few questions coming up regarding the recent rules. I wear my Garmin swim watch constantly to motivate me to get in the pool. Having to take it off when swimming open water feels odd (and the watch gives no real benefit since I never check it during the swim). Also, while I really enjoy listening to music while doing a long swim, I can see the argument against that a little clearer.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

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

Swim Across the English Channel...

OWSM-CM

Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?

Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!

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...
LEARN 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.
LEARN MORE...

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:
https://www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/preview-open-water-swimming-almanac


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

SponsorMySwim.com

Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program