How To Be Safe In The Open Water

How To Be Safe In The Open Water

How far should a swimmer, parent, coach, race director, pilot or crew member go in ensuring safety in the open water?

How far do others go in ensuring safety in solo swims, relays, triathlons, open water swims and channel crossings?

How far are swimmers willing to push themselves in solo swims, relays, triathlons, open water swims and channel crossings? How much is too much?

At what point does a coach, pilot or crew member tell an athlete that (a) they should not start a swim, (b) they should delay a swim, or (c) they should call it a day?

What protocols and procedures are put in place when extremes in water temperature and conditions present themselves?

How does and should a race director postpone or cancel a race?

What should race directors and governing bodies do when a tragedy occurs in a sanctioned race?

What should race directors and governing bodies do when a tragedy occurs in a non-sanctioned race?

What are the statistics of accidents and deaths in open water swimming events around the world?

What requirements and recommendations are in place for channel swims in established bodies of water? What about bodies of water where there is no governing body?

What kind of products really work with jellyfish stings, especially with box jellyfish and Portuguese man o war? How are these products applied before, during and after the swim?

What medical equipment is used and recommended at an open water swim?

What’s a Shark Shield, Electronic Shark Defense System, MySwimIt, Swim Safety Device or prop guard?

How are glow sticks applied? What colors are best to use?

What are the advantages of a kayak vs. a paddleboard?

Why should a coach have a whistle?

How should crew members or an open water swimming coach be selected?

How have some close calls been averted from afterdrop with hypothermic swimmers to heat stroke with hyperthermic swimmers?

What happens when hundreds or thousands of athletes are in the open water at the same time?

Why is stroke per minute a valuable parameter to know and monitor? How can stroke per minute serve as a safety guideline?

Sharks: what are their behavior patterns? What basic information should swimmers, coaches, race directors, parents and administrators know about them?

Those will be some of the open water swimming issues raised and questions discussed at the 2012 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in safety panels headed by Forrest Nelson, president of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, Dr. Marcy MacDonald, a 12-time English Channel swimmer and physician, Ned Denison, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator, Michael Read MBE, president of the Channel Swimming Association, Ram Barkai, president of the International Ice Swimming Association, and some of the leading race directors around the world from San Francisco and South Africa to Boston and Brazil.

The information presented at the Global Open Water Swimming Conference on September 21-22 on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California will be eye-opening and educational. The answers may also be controversial and debatable.

But in light of the recent tragedies in the triathlon and open water swimming world, it is also time and opportunity for the global open water swimming community to gather together, present their experiences, discuss best practices and share protocols, procedures and policies around the world with each other. From extreme swims with water temperatures ranging from 3°C – 32°C to events with high surf and unexpected currents, the community can help each other in most valuable ways.

To share is to care.

To register for the 2012 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit here.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones