Why We Prefer To Escort In The Open Water

Why We Prefer To Escort In The Open Water

Photo courtesy of Bruckner Chase of Ocean City Swim Club with his essential tools for any organized open water swim.

Article courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California

While kayaks are generally considered to be the preferred vessel for open water swimming escorts, we personally prefer paddleboards for the following 10 reasons:

1. Paddleboards have outstanding maneuverability.
2. It is relatively easy to get a fatigued or distressed swimmer from the water onto the paddleboard and then to the boat or shoreline in emergency or in case of swim abandonment.
3. We can easily place the swimmer flat on the paddleboard while simultaneously paddling the swimmer to safety or medical support.
3. The practicality of getting a fatigued or distressed swim on the paddleboard through the surf and swells is unmatched by a kayak. We can easily place the swimmer on the paddleboard while surfing through, with or over the waves.
4. If necessary, we can knee on the paddleboard – or stand up – and look forward to see turn buoys, escort boats, flotsam, jellyfish, sharks, coral reefs or anything else that should be noted or avoided.
5. It is easy to mix drinks or prepare food on the flat top side of the paddleboard as we are moving forward in the 3 position or 9 position next to the swimmer.
6. Balance is especially easy in heavy surf or turbulent waters by placing both legs on the opposite side of the paddleboard.
7. We feel psychologically close to the swimmer because our head is nearly at the water’s surface and we are looking nearly eye-to-eye with the swimmer.
8. The paddle strokes are very similar to the swimming strokes.
10. Paddling easily enables a speed as fast as any world-class swimmer under any conditions.

Bruckner Chase of Ocean City Swim Club recommends, “If you arrive at the open water for a group swim and you don’t see equipment like this [shown above] and more, please think more than twice about going out. Not shown [above] is access to a backboard, basic medical kit, and multiple professional ocean lifeguards backed by an emergency action plan.”

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association