Lockdown Swimming Around The World

Lockdown Swimming Around The World

Lockdown Swimming Around The World

Courtesy of WOWSA, Cape Town, South Africa and Flathead Lake, Montana.

Open water swimmers are flexible, adaptable, and creative.

If the water gets rougher or colder, they adapt and swim on. If the currents and tides gets stronger and flows in the opposite direction, they adapt to the situation both mentally and physically.

In the unprecedented era of lockdowns, quarantines and shelter-in-place ordinances, swimmers continue to remain true to their DNA. They remain flexible, adaptable and creative.

Ram Barkai in Cape Town, South Africa and Mark Johnston in Polson, Montana are two examples of this flexibility, adaptability and creativity. They have developed different, but similar, ideas for virtual swims or lockdown swims.

Barkai explains what he is doing, “Our annual swimming event, the Freedom Swim from Robben Island, Nelson Mandela’s home for 27 years, to the mainland has been cancelled due to lockdown. But our Freedom Swim was also to celebrate our democracy in South Africa on April 27th 1994.

As a substitute, we launched the Freedom Swim Lockdown Challenge in order to offer our desperate swimmers some liquid challenge (see here). After only one day, we have had an unprecedented response, including many overseas swimmers who also committed.

Freedom Swim Lockdown Challenge:
Purpose: to celebrate South Africa’s Freedom Day
Cost: free
Location: participate with or without a pool, swimming laps or using a bungee cord, or be creative and improvise with some water
Participation: anyone can take part
Awards: first 100 finishers will receive the official Freedom swim caps
Date: Monday, 27 April 2020
Distance/Categories: (1) Solo 1-hour swim, (2) Half 30-minute swim, (3) Relay with 2-4 swimmers 1-hour swim
Rules: a 1-minute feed break is allowed every 10 minutes for solo swimmers or a minimum of 5-minute intervals for relay swimmers
Validation: post a 10-second video with a description how the challenge was accomplished on Facebook
Social Media: tag your Instagram story @freedom_swim and use #FS2020lockdownchallenge and #freedomswim.

On the other side of the globe in the United States, Montana-based Mark Johnston of Flathead Lake Open Water Swimmers will offer a virtual open water event allowing people to swim on their own accord as bodies of water gradually open back up. He will offer the 2020 Open Water Virtual Grand Slam, a 4-race series of the common triathlon distances: 800m Sprint, 1500m Olympic, 1.9 km Half Ironman, and 3.8 km Full Ironman.

Johnston explains, “The Grand Slam is a summer-long, 4-race open water competition where participants swim and submit their times in the four competitive triathlon distances. All athletes are encouraged to participate. Registration will open on May 1st.

June 30th 2020: 800m Sprint event
July 31st 2020: 1.5 km Olympic event
August 31st 2020: 1.9 km Half Ironman event
September 30th 2020: 3.8 km Full Ironman event

Each stage is scored individually and there is a cumulative result of combined times at the completion of all four distances. There are categories for wetsuit, non-wetsuit, and both for eight total swims.

The Grand Slam rankings will be updated weekly and posted online at the host website and Meet Mobile. Certificates of accomplishment, compete with event rankings, will be e-mailed out at the end of each stage, and awards will be presented for those swimming all four events to complete the Grand Slam.”

1. Swims should be considered safe and must be open for swimming by local authorities. Please adhere to local social distancing recommendations.
2. Swimmers submit times via e-mail to the event host according to the established deadlines.
3. Submitted times must be tracked via the open water setting of GPS-enabled wearable (Garmin, Apple, Fitbit, etc.). In addition to the date, time, duration, distance, and map-track, a photo of each swim is encouraged, potentially for publishing. Where necessary, over-distances will be adjusted by 100m averages to fit the relevant stage: 16-minutes, 1600m swim = adjusted 15-minute time for a 1500m distance.
4. Times from official events may be submitted without GPS tracking.
5. Each distance may be submitted twice allowing for time improvements based upon conditions, improved fitness, etc.
6. Category I and Category II swimwear are encouraged and scored separately. Tow floats, etc. are allowed in either category. Swimmers may participate in both categories for a total of eight swims.
7. To account for currents, swims held in flowing water (rivers, tides, etc.) must be swum 50% against the current and 50% with the current. Reach out to the event hosts if clarification if needed.
8. Age divisions is determined as of December 31st 2020: Under 18, 18–24, 25–29, 30–34, 35–39…5-year increments as needed.
9. Athletes submit their times via e-mail to the event director, Mark Johnston at [email protected] or +1 (303) 887-3930.
10. Grand Slam rankings will be updated weekly and posted online at www.FlowSwimmers.com and on Meet Mobile.
11. Certificates of accomplishment, compete with event rankings, will be e-mailed at the end of each event and awards will be presented to those swimming all four events to complete their Grand Slam. Awards to be determined.
12. US$15 entry for the entire event wetsuit, non-wetsuit, or both.
13. Entries are accepted at any time. However, to be considered for stage rankings, swimmers must be registered during that particular stage. Late entries will be considered for cumulative Grand Slam results, and missed distances should be submitted for Grand Slam participation.
14. Registration is online through Club Assistant.

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