DNOWS Header

Image Map

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ocean Wise Series – Part One

Courtesy of Bruckner Chase, Ocean Positive, Ocean City, New Jersey.

Bruckner Chase's Ocean Positive and the Ocean City Swim Club are now part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Ready Nation Ambassador program.

They will launch a summer series on beach and ocean safety, science, and conservation.

This is Part One of the Ocean Wise Series: Building Safer, Stronger, Wiser And Faster Open Water And Ocean Athletes:

Swimming is an intellectual pursuit.

Winter pool time is spent mastering lane etiquette, stroke mechanics and interval protocols beside turbulence decreasing lane lines, but now it’s time to enter the more intimidating world of wind, waves and wildlife.

The best open water swimmers are not always the fastest, but rather those that can read, adapt and embrace challenging conditions that can change in an instant. The ocean in particular is not a place to put on headphones, program your watch and just head through the waves. Long before performance becomes a goal, safety and returning to shore has to come first.

Making sure every open water session begins and ends well requires planning and awareness with a knowledge base of the environment and indicators of when to go out and when to stay on shore. There is a reason that the mantra of every ocean athlete is, “When in doubt, don’t go out.”

Over the coming months the Ocean Wise Series is going to give you the resources, tools and insights that will make every training session, race or family outing to the shore safe and positive. As more small groups, clubs and training partners start looking out at the water as a training venue our starting point is going to be some best practices on evaluating conditions and making those critical plans on shore before getting even one toe wet.

The Ocean City Swim Club in Ocean City, New Jersey has been hosting weekly ocean workouts for over eight years. Here are the steps that the club goes through before every workout:

• Forecasting and Current Conditions with Apps: Surfline, SwellInfo, WeatherBug, Tides, AccuWeather, Windy, SeaStatus
• Forecasting and Current Conditions with websites: NOAA NWS Rip Currents, NOAA NWS Experimental Beach Forecast, NOAA National Data Buoy Center
• Ocean Safety, Science and Conservation Education: NOAA Ocean Today

All this provides the information to make a call. The challenging part becomes applying all that information to the planned workout. Race and workout organizers should be looking at all or most of these factors long before they set up, but only the swimmer can determine their own limits.

There are beach sessions with chest-high breaking waves and 15 mph winds that some athletes will love, but these are NOT the conditions for the beginner who just finished their first full winter of pool workouts for their first triathlon. Often a new athlete won’t fully know their abilities until they are in a challenging new situation. Whether that situation is a race or just a training session in a local lake the presence of trained, professional lifeguards capable of making the right decisions and actions are critical.

Especially when the ocean is involved even the best forecasting tools predicting ideal conditions can be wrong.

Even if there is no rain or thunder or fog...at the moment lifeguards, coaches and organizers have to anticipate what the conditions may be in an hour when there are tens or even hundreds of people swimming far offshore. Dangerous situations can come up, and this time of year dense fog is one of those. A fog bank can roll in within minutes and swimmers just 100 meters from shore may no longer be able to see land.

Any condition that affects visibility not only impacts a swimmer's ability to see a buoy, but also a lifeguard’s ability to see the swimmers. Forecasting and information always come down to having the confidence and wisdom to stand by the mantra, “When in doubt, don’t go out.”

Here’s a best practices timeline for making a call before any open water workout:

• Make a preliminary assessment the night before that should represent an 80% degree of confidence.
• Make a second assessment the morning of or roughly 2.5 to 1.5 hours before hitting the water with a 90% degree of confidence.
• Make a final decision at the shore with a 98% degree of confidence leaving that final 2% to the unexpected that may cut a swim short.
• Be prepared for the 2% by adding in some protective factors like the following:

o Always swim near a lifeguard
o Swim with recognized, professional coaches, organizers and race directors with safety protocols and equipment on-hand
o Let people know where you are and when you are going in
o Always have an emergency exit and safe zone plan to get out of the water
o Tow or carry floatation or rescue tubes for visibility and support
o Dress appropriately for before, during and after water time

Open water swimming is like mountain climbing in that no outing is a success unless you make it safely back to home.

All of us want to help you reach your endurance potential, and they key to doing that is insuring you can have a long lifetime of positive experiences on the road, trail and water. We hope this series moves you towards making you the wisest, safest and strongest athlete on the water.

Want to learn more or take part in creating a safer, Weather Ready Nation? Check out NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation program.

Copyright © 2008-2017 by World Open Water Swimming Association

No comments:

Post a Comment

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

World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

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...

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.

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:

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


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program