Casting A Wider Net In Santa Barbara

Casting A Wider Net In Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association defines its sanctioned swims performed among its seven islands off the coast of California as ‘Islands’, ‘Inter-island’ and ‘Wetsuit Assisted’.

The Association has “a capella” categories: Category A–1 for solo swimmers, Category A–2 for relays of 2-6 swimmers. Both are based on the English Channel crossing rules and regulations.

In these categories, swimmers are permitted to wear one silicone or latex cap and one porous swim suit, not designed to retain body heat (no neoprene) or aid in buoyancy. No wetsuits are allowed and coverage of the suit does not extend over the shoulder or knee.

Category B is wetsuit-assisted swim. Although the Association expressly discourages the use of wetsuits, it also “understands that certain individuals will feel the need to wear one during their swim.”

The Association will recognize wetsuit assisted or “performance enhanced” swims. However, these swims will not be eligible for any records or firsts and are listed separately from other successful swims.

Category B-1 is for solo swimmers and Category B–2 is for relays of 2-6 swimmers that allows the use of a wetsuit head cap of any material and thickness. All other rules apply. No flippers, paddles or webbed gloves will be allowed.

The relaxed rules are certainly one way to cast a wider net to those who may be interested in marathon swimming. As one example of a wider net, the marathon swimming world welcomed a triathlete, Stephen Redmond, to its most exclusive fraternity last year when he completed the toughest channel in the world – the North Channel between Scotland and Ireland – in 17 hours and 20 minutes without a wetsuit.

Step by step, the land-based endurance community seems to be getting closer and closer to the shoreline and interested in venturing beyond the waves.

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