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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Melodee Nugent Does Double-Duty At S.C.A.R. Challenge

Courtesy of Melodee Nugent and Kent Nicholas at the S.C.A.R. Challenge.

Melodee Nugent wore two hats at the 2014 S.C.A.R. Challenge in Arizona this year. The statistician from the Medical College of Wisconsin and Translational and Biomedical Research Center created a 60-page post-event survey for race director Kent Nicholas as well as participated in the 4-day, 41.7-mile (66.9 km) stage swim in Saguaro Lake (15.2 km), Canyon Lake (14.4 km), Apache Lake (27.3 km), and Roosevelt Lake (10 km).

It is clear that even while working full-time as a biostatistician of pediatrics and a mother of three children, Nugent keeps wanting more. "The survey was fun for me to do, since it is always more interesting to work on something you have a passion about."

The Wisconsin dynamo started as a 100-yard butterfly specialist in high school, but the marathon swimmer is now stepping up her range participating in the 43 km Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test (END-WET) in 2013 and the S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge this year.

"I'm not competitive. It's more for myself. My first goal is to finish, then to place in the middle of the pack. I like the challenge."

A master of data analysis, Nugent knew what she had to do in order to prepare for her marathon swims. Every weekday at 4 am, she swim in a pool before heading off to work as well as much longer open water swim on the weekends in a local lake. Her passion for open water swimming and statistics is quite clear from the results that were created in Survey Monkey to see what swimmers thought of the S.C.A.R. Challenge. 31 out of 35 swimmers responded for a 89% response rate.

Summary
There are 31 swimmers that completed the S.C.A.R. survey. The type of questions used for this survey are mostly Likert scale questions (level of agreement or disagreement) and open-ended responses. For the Likert scale questions, they are often analyzed by combining the strongly agree/agree and the strongly disagree/disagree. Therefore, there are 3 groups: Agree, Neutral and Disagree. For the purposes of this summary, the percentage of strongly agree responses are noted in parentheses. By having a neutral group, that does not force people to answer agree or disagree.

Major Factors in my Decision to Participate in S.C.A.R. Challenge
• A fellow swimmer I know was swimming it as well – this was not important and responses were varied, with Neutral as the most common response (31%)
• I liked the location of SCAR – 97% agree with this (74% strongly agree)
• I liked the distances of the lakes – 94% agree with this (68% strongly agree)
• I liked the volunteer paddlers were provided – 87% agree with this (63% strongly agree)
• I would not be discouraged from entering SCAR if I had to pick from a list of potential local volunteers – 91% agree with this (50% strongly agree)

Price of SCAR

• The price of SCAR was reasonable compared to other swims I have done – 97% agree with this (65% strongly agreed)
• The price of SCAR was a bargain – 73% agree with this (40% strongly agreed). 23% were neutral on this question
• I prefer to pay a flat fee rather than by given choices – 74% agree with this (45% strongly agreed). 16% disagree with this and would prefer to have separate fees for the event
• Open-ended responses:
o Some said they liked to pay per lake, since they didn’t want to do all 4
o Maybe an extra fee could be added for those that did not bring their escort (offset some of the costs)

Pre-Race Information
• The logistics provided on the website as adequate in preparing me for what to expect at each swim – 87% agree with this (42% strongly agreed).
• The map of the lakes was helpful – 84% agreed (37% strongly agreed).
• I reviewed the Suggested Equipment List in packing my swim bad for SCAR so I was prepared – 90% agree with this (52% strongly agreed)
• Open-ended responses:
o Some commented that you don’t really know about the layout of the lakes until you are really there
o Some more experienced swimmers have their own list of equipment to bring and didn’t look at the Suggested Equipment list
o Carpooling suggested
Social Event
• The social event the night before SCAR was worthwhile – for those that attended, 100% agree with this (80% strongly agreed with this).
• Open-ended responses:
o Introductions at the beginning of the event for all swimmers would be nice

SWAG Bag
• The SWAG bag was better than most SWAG bags from swims I have done before – 65% agree with this (7% strongly agree).
• Items in the SWAG bag:
o T-shirt – 100% agreed (83% strongly agreed)
o Baseball cap – 80% agreed (57% strongly agreed)
o Swim cap – 77% agreed (48% strongly agreed)
o Drawstring bag – 87% agreed (30% strongly agreed)
o H20 subscription – 77% agreed (43% strongly agreed)
o Raw Revolution bars – 61% agreed (42% strongly agreed)
o Zinka sticker – 26% agreed and 61% were neutral (no one strongly agreed)
• Open-ended responses:
o Would be nice to buy extra shirts or sweatshirts (like your Patagonia shirt)
o Some prefer silicone caps more than latex

Breakfast at Apache
• I liked the following at Apache for those that had the item:
o Burritos – 64% agree (36% strongly agreed)
o Potatoes – 46% agree (29% strongly agreed)
o Coffee – 54% agree (29% strongly agreed)
o Tea - 36% agree (16% strongly agreed)
o Juice - 56% agree (28% strongly agreed)
o Water – 79% agree (50% strongly agreed)
• Open-ended responses:
o Some didn’t know about the breakfast
o Some requested a simpler breakfast: toast, cereal, granola bars or fruit (instead of a heavier breakfast before a swim)
o Nice that staff allowed some of us to get ice in back

Safety
• I felt safe during the swim – 90% agree with this (71% strongly agreed)
• I felt safe after the swim – 94% agree with this (77% strongly agreed)
• I felt safe with my volunteer paddler wearing a reflective colored vest – 90% agree with this (71% strongly agreed)
• I think there needs to be more safety boats – 68% answered neutral to this question and only 19% agree with this

Post Race
• How important is it to know the exact distance swam at each lake – 71% agree with this (19% strongly agreed).
• How important is it to know your swim time at each lake – 87% agree with this (32% strongly agreed)
• How important is it to know what place you were in at each lake – 61% agree with this (19% strongly agreed)
• How important are awards for different categories at each lake – 23% agree with this (7% strongly agreed)
• Open-ended responses:
o Some see it as an adventure, not a race
o Finisher awards for those that completed all 4 swims

Crew Finding Dry Bag
• I felt the crew members on boats were good at finding my dry bag and necessary items in the event I was too cold – 68% agree with this (45% strongly agreed).

SCAR Thoughts
• There was a competitive aspect – 70% agree with this (17% strongly agreed)
• I liked the vibes from fellow swimmers – 100% agree with this (78% strongly agreed)
• I think there should be a time limit for completing a swim – 50% agree with this (27% strongly agreed)
• The enforcement of swim rules was to lax for me swim – 48% agree with this (7% strongly agreed)
• I prefer strict rules for swimmers to follow at SCAR - swim – 7% agree with this (7% strongly agreed)
• The water was too cold for me swim – 67% disagree with this (34% strongly disagreed)
• The swim was too early in the open water season for me swim – 87% disagree with this (32% strongly disagreed)
• I like the four lakes in four days, instead of consecutive weekends swim – 87% agree with this (73% strongly agreed)
• Open-ended responses:
o Mixed responses on time limits, slower swimmers don’t want them. Perhaps asking times from previous swims and then start off slower swimmers first, so most finish at same time. Difficult call for the race director.
o Most liked the lax rules, can participate on own terms and make it how they want

Post Race Snacks
• I like the snacks provided after the Saguaro and Canyon swims – 73% agree with this (33% strongly agreed)
• There were enough snacks available – 70% agree with this (27% strongly agreed)
• There were enough beverages available - 73% agree with this (30% strongly agreed)
• I prefer a “No Alcohol” policy for SCAR – 57% disagree with this (23% strongly disagreed)
• Open-ended questions:
o Drinking alcohol okay, as long as responsible, swimmers like the casual atmosphere
o Some completely against alcohol

Massage
• I had a least one massage - 58% had a massage
• Worth the money – 100% agree with this (78% strongly agreed)
• Relaxing – 89% agree with this (72% strongly agreed)
• Done professionally – 100% agree with this (89% strongly agreed)
• Open-ended responses:
o Great idea
o Overbooked

Celebration
• I would like to have a closing ceremony after the Roosevelt swim – 48% agree with this (23% strongly agreed)
• I would like to have a closing ceremony the morning after the Roosevelt swim – 45% agree with this (23% strongly agreed)
• Open-ended responses:
o Difficult either way to plan – some wanted to get home the next morning and it is too late after Roosevelt.
o Maybe if slower swimmers started earlier and most finished closer together, a celebration at the restaurant/bar could work

For Those that Completed all 4 Lakes – Ranking of Lakes
Canyon Lake 14.4 km – first (50%)
Apache Lake 27.3 km – second (28%)
Saguaro Lake 15.2 km– third (17%)
Roosevelt Lake 10 km – fourth (5%)

Favorite Swim for All Swimmers
• Roosevelt – for the night swimming, swimming under bridge and conditions
• Apache – for the challenge and reward
• Canyon – for the scenery/beauty

Least Favorite Swim for All Swimmers
• Roosevelt – late start, too rough
• Apache – unfinished, too long
Comment from race director Kent Nicholas, "The comments regarding favorite swims and least favorite swims appears contradictory, but the detailed comments revealed an interesting aspect of open water swimming: the best aspects of an open water swim for some swimmers are identical the least favorite aspects for others."

Favorite Part of SCAR
• Meeting all the swimmers and volunteers, socializing
• Finishing the swims
• The scenery/location
• All of it!

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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