The Evolutionary Digitalization Of Open Water Swimming

The Evolutionary Digitalization Of Open Water Swimming

The Evolutionary Digitalization Of Open Water Swimming

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The open water swimming community is rapidly and dramatically heading from paper and pen to laptops and the cloud.

The digital comprehensive Observer Report by Evan Morrison that describes Craig Lenning‘s swim from the Farallon Islands to Muir Beach on the California mainland this week is evidence of this tectonic shift in the sport.

Throughout the 20th century, the vast majority of open water swims from the English Channel to the Molokai Channel, from the Great North Swim to the Cole Classic were described and recorded through the eyes of race directors and volunteers using the ol’ fashioned pen and paper. Occasionally, a swim was filmed and archived from the Daily Mail and the Billy Butlin Cross Channel International Swims in the English Channel to the aQuellé Midmar Mile with quadcopters, but more or less, pen and paper were used to document channel swims, marathon swims, ice swims and open water swims around the world.

But the ability to record swimmers via handheld devices, upload swim courses in real time, and track water temperature and other information has dramatically changed the landscape in the open water swimming community. With the relatively low cost and ease-of-use of technology, the digital documentation and archiving of solo swims, relays, and competitions of all types is only becoming much more comprehensive, but can also be shared and viewed globally easily and inexpensively (if not freely).

Morrison‘s latest digital Observer’s Report of Lenning‘s swim is a shining example of that documentation – and shift in sharing the minutiae of the sport. He has set the standard for others to follow in not only the marathon swimming community (see here), but also the entire open water swimming community from mass open water swims to solo stage swims.

The Morrison Report presents a vast amount of information. While the text report is descriptive and standard, it is the incorporation of videos and real-time data of the swim that presents a treasure trove of information for not only the contemporary swimming community, but also for future generations of swimmers, historians, and media.

* Name: Craig Lenning
* Age: 34
* Nationality: USA
* Hometown: Denver, Colorado
* Route Description: South Farallon Island to Muir Beach, Calif.
* Body of Water: Gulf of the Farallones, Pacific Ocean
* Straight-Line Distance: 25.7 statute miles
* Date: April 8, 2014
* Start: 6:02 am
* Finish: 9:49 pm
* Elapsed: 15 hr 47 min 22 sec
* Sanctioning Organization: Farallon Islands Swimming Federation (FISF)
* Route Details, Start: Offshore buoy in Fisherman Bay (37.702350 N, -123.001933 W)
* Finish: Muir Beach near mouth of Redwood Creek (37.859258 N, -122.576069 W)
* Route plan changed mid-swim from original destination of Golden Gate Bridge.
* Support Personnel: Pilot (Vito Bialla), Co-Pilot (Patrick Horn), Vessel (Sequel of Belvedere, Calif.), Crew Chief (Jamie Patrick), Navigator (David Holscher), Observer (Evan Morrison of Marathon Swimmers Federation and Santa Barbara C.S.A.)
* Rules & Conduct: Equipment Used: MSF Standard. Craig wore a single silicone cap, opting not to avail himself of a neoprene cap as allowed by FISF. Rules Followed: MSF Standard, with FISF local exception of starting at offshore buoy due to regulations prohibiting access to island.
* Feeding: every 30 minutes from the boat. Carbo Pro flavored with Cytomax and a splash of apple juice. Delivered with optional bottle of plain warm water. Occasional UCAN, ibuprofen, and Tums.
* GPS Tracks: Recorded with Garmin Fenix 2, worn by observer.
* Weather, Conditions, & Tides: Information included Beaufort Wind Force: 1.5 – 2.5, Wind Speed: 1-3 kt (min) — 8-10 kt (max), Water Temperature: 54°F – 57°F, Air Temperature: 50°F – 57°F, Swells: NW 4-5 ft, moderating to 2-3 ft in late afternoon, Skies: Fog (start) to partial sun to fog (finish)
* Astronomy: Sunrise: 0644 Sunset: 1938, Twilight: 0513 (astronomical), 0546 (nautical), 0617 (civil), Twilight: 2109 (astronomical), 2037 (nautical), 2005 (civil), Length of Day: 12h54m, Length of Visible Light: 13h47m, Moon: waxing gibbous (63%)






















* Observer Narrative Report (see here)
* Raw Logs (see here and below)







































* Photos & Video (see below and more here)

* Buoy Data from NOAA Buoy 46026 (17.8 miles W of Ocean Beach) and NOAA Buoy 46237 (SF Bar, 6 miles SW of Pt Bonita) (see here with data covering time (GMT); wind speed (m/s); wind gust (m/s), wave height (m), dominant wave period (sec), average wave period (sec), dominant wave direction, air temp (C), water temp (°C)

* Water Temp Data from NOAA Buoy 46214 (24.5 miles W of Pt Reyes) shown on left

Lenning’s data presented above is the copyrighted material of the Marathon Swimming Federation.


While the Marathon Swimming Federation motto is “For those who aspire to swim the world’s great bodies of water with just a swimsuit, cap, and goggles,” Morrison has created something larger and more comprehensive, something virtual and concrete at the same time, and potentially long-lasting for his peers and swimming fans around the world. In addition to a swimsuit, cap and goggles, a laptop, real-time information, an Internet connection, handheld mobile devices, and a whole lot of ingenuity and effort, he has pieced together a new standard for Observer’s Reports.

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