Swimming With Sharks In The Open Water

Swimming With Sharks In The Open Water

Back in August, The Daily News of Open Water Swimming asked if If a shark approached a marathon swimmer, should the swimmer be allowed to board their boat and return to the water when safe? The poll results are in.

According to the traditional rules of channel swimming and competition, no support contact of any kind or at any time are allowed between the swimmer and any person or object.

In other words, if a swimmer got out of the water or touched a person, boat, kayak, paddle board, pier or floating device, they would be immediately disqualified and their swim would not be certified.

Throughout history, there have been several swimmers pulled from the water on their marathon swims due to sharks. With the first thought of safety, it seems natural that an athlete is immediately pulled from the water.

Olympic champion Greta Andersen’s 17-hour attempt from Molokai to Oahu is but one example. A few miles off of Oahu, a team of sharks literally circled her. Her team wisely pulled her out and her swim was over to her disappointmet. It was a tough decision, but the decision was a wise one.

In the poll of 389 swimmers, the results were as follows:

231 (59%) answered, ‘Yes, it is acceptable.’
7 (1%) answered, ‘Only if there are a lot of sharks.’
31 (7%) answered, ‘It depends.’
84 (21%) answered, ‘No, it is against the rules.’
36 (9%) answered, ‘Only in specialty swims and not in the major channels of the world.’

Of course, then there are swimmers like Chris Palfrey who are planning swims where they not only face sharks, but also crocodiles and chironex fleckeri, the most venomous creatures on earth.

Some call it crazy. We call it committed.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association