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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Were Records Made To Be Broken (In The Open Water)?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

There were few people cheering more emphatically for the success of Craig Lenning in the Farallon Islands than the venerable Ted Erikson. Erikson knows very well first-hand what Lenning faced and had to overcome.

Erikson completed the first swim from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge at the mouth of the San Francisco Bay in September 1967. But his eventual success was preceded by two valiant failures, one of which he was declared dead before he came back to life, back in 1966. So the Erikson has a soft spot in his heart for the young 34-year-old Lenning who followed in his wake 47 years later.

After Lenning's success of 15 hours 47 minutes, Erikson congratulated Lenning and his support team of captain Vito Bialla, navigator David Holscher, co-captain Patrick Horn, crew chief Jamie Patrick, and observer Evan Morrison. But he also noted that his 1967 record to the Golden Gate Bridge, not the mainland at Muir Beach [where Lenning walked ashore] at 3 miles shorter, still holds. "If it holds to 2017, it will be a half-century record and I'll be 89 years old then," observed Erikson.

The waterway between the desolate Farallon Islands and the Golden Gate Bridge is governed by the Farallon Islands Swimming Association. But Erikson's observations bring up several interesting issues regarding records:

1. If the acknowledged waterway is from Point A (e.g., Farallon Islands) to Point B (Golden Gate Bridge) and a swimmer swims outside those 2 points and lands in a different location (e.g., Muir Beach), how is this swim viewed?
2. If the acknowledged waterway is from Point A to Point B, but the first successful swim in the waterway takes a different route (e.g., Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Evans in August 1967), how is that swim handled in the record books?
3. If the acknowledged waterway is from Point A to Point B, but two of the acknowledged crossings fall outside these parameters (e.g., Lieutenant Colonel Evans from the Farallon Islands to Bolinas and Lenning from the Farallon Islands to Muir Beach), how are those swims handled in the record books?
4. Does each swimmer hold a record because they are taking three different course (a la the two different North Channel courses that are acknowledged by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association as in the North Channel Swim Route and the Dál Riata Channel Swim - see article on Where Is Precisely The North Channel)?
5. Or does the fastest person (i.e., Lieutenant Colonel Evans) hold the record? Or does the person who swam the furthest hold the record (i.e., Erikson)?
6. Who or what entity keeps track of these records? Is it solely the responsibility of the Farallon Islands Swimming Association - or a larger, more global organizations like the Marathon Swimmers Federation or the Guinness Book of World Records? Who or what entity SHOULD keep track of these records?
7. Who or what entity is responsible for verifying the record? Is it solely the responsibility of the local governing body - or do or should the local governing bodies collaborate with larger, more global organizations like Marathon Swimmers Federation or the Guinness Book of World Records?
8. If there is a debate over a record, who does or should adjudicate the decision? Should the Marathon Swimmers Federation be the ultimate adjudicator?
9. If the Marathon Swimmers Federation is the ultimate adjudicator of records (and rules), will it serve as the archive of record of marathon swims?
10. What is the definition of marathon swimming? If the definition is 10 km in distance, does this include current-assisted 10 km swims (e.g., in a river)? Should FINA's definition of 10 km be used?
11. Should records be established for swims of various distances, ages, genders, and venues (e.g., salt water, fresh water, lakes, bays, oceans, rivers)?
12. Should records be established for open water swims (i.e., those swims less than the to-be-established marathon swimming distance)?
13. Should records be established for ultra-swims (e.g., those swims greater than 24 hours in duration)?
14. Does every local waterway ultimately have only one governing body? Or is it acceptable to have two different governing bodies like the English Channel does with the Channel Swimming Association and Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation? In the case of two separate organizations for the same waterway, can or should there be two separate record lists or should the record list be consolidated?
15. Who or what entity can establish a governing body? What is required? What is optimal for an individual or a group to establish a governing body? Must it be a non-profit organization?
16. Who or what entity gave the rights to each association to be in charge of its waterway?* 17. Can a single individual create his or her own governing body specifically for their own swims (e.g., as Walter Poenisch's International Federation of Professional Ocean Swimmers and Divers)?
18. If a single individual creates his or her own governing body for their swims and they are successful, must other swimmers who attempt swims after them follow their rules? Or can the rules of subsequent swims be different (either less stringent or more stringent)?
19. What is an ungoverned body of water now that the Marathon Swimmers Federation has been established?
20. Must all observer reports be written and submitted in English? Or can reports be written and archived in the native language of the swimmer and his/her crew?

While some swimmers will be focused on and rightfully proud of these record-setting swims, we are hopeful that the global community will continue to celebrate all open water swims and will ultimately decide some or all of the questions raised above. These are not necessarily easy questions to answers and the debate may be lengthy, nuanced and very interesting to hear.

* Some governing bodies receive their authority based on discussions and decisions granted by the local Coast Guard or governmental marine authorities (NYC Swim, Channel Swimming Association, Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation, Farallon Islands Swimming Association, Tsugaru Channel Swimming Association, and Solo Swims of Ontario are a few examples).

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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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.

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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.

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There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

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

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