Trial Before The Fire

Trial Before The Fire

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Whether it is a solo crossing or a relay swim, there are a few open water swims around the world where a trial swim (alternatively called an assessment swim or a check out swim or a qualifying swim) is mandatory.

A trial swim is an open water swim required by local governing body of swimmers prior to attempting a swim or relay.

The swim is part of the governing body‘s duty of care. There are all different types of trial swims including the following:

*The 2-mile Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim in Southern California requires swimmers to pass a 500-meter check out swim. Decisions of the lifeguards at check out are final.

*For the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, applicants must submit documentation that they have either completed a recent open water swim or completed a 3-mile pool swim in under 2 hours 15 minutes.

*For the Rottnest Channel Swim in Western Australia, a solo swimmer must have either completed a Rottnest Channel Swim solo crossing within the previous two years or completed a 10 km qualifying swim between November and February.

*For the International Self-Transcendence Marathon Swim in Lake Zurich, Switzerland, solo swimmers must confirm they are able to swim 6 hours at a minimum speed of 2.8 km per hour.

*For Lake Ontario marathon swims in Canada, solo swimmers must complete an outdoor, open water, continuous trial swim of not less than one-third of the intended distance, with a maximum of 10 miles (16 km), to test the swimmer’s readiness.

*For the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in New York City, solo swimmers must complete a 4-hour qualifying swim and submit their 1-hour maximum distance swim for consideration.

*For a Cook Strait crossing, a 6-hour swim in 15ºC or less with a minimum speed of 3 km per hour is recommended to be successful.

*For the English Channel, the Channel Swimming Association and the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation require a ratified 6-hour open water swim by solo swimmers at least 14 days before the swimmer’s swim tide period starts. The 6-hour swim can be completed at any stage from 30 months before the planned swim date and must be performed in water 60ºF or less.

*For the English Channel, the Channel Swimming Association and the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation require a ratified 2-hour open water swim by relay swimmers at least 14 days before the swimmer’s swim tide period starts. The 6-hour swim can be completed at any stage from 18 months before the planned swim date. The team leader is responsible for confirming the relay’s 2-hour swims by all team members.

*For the North Channel, the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association requires a ratified 6-hour open water swim by solo swimmers in water 13°C or below or a ratified 8-hour swim in 15°C below within 9 months or less from the date of their North Channel slot or proof of completion in a recognised channel swim in water 13°C or below for a period considered by the ILDSA to be an acceptable alternative within the previous 9 months of the date of their North Channel slot.

But there are many more swims and channels where a pre-crossing trial swim is not necessary, but other issues and histories are taken into consideration.

Scott Zornig of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association explains, “The Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association does not require a particular assessment or trial swim. Rather, we look at the applicant’s entire swim history placing emphasis on what they have done recently. Our application committee then votes on each application. Once the votes are tallied, we respond to the applicant with Approved, Not Approved or Approval Contingent Upon Certain Requirements. If the applicant is doing one of our longer channels verses our most popular – Anacapa, Santa Cruz Islands – we need to see a resume which includes successful swims at Catalina, English Channel and/or Manhattan Island Marathon Swim amongst others.”

Linda Kaiser explains about the Molokai Channel requirements. “The Kaiwi Channel Swimmers Association does not require any qualifying swims prior to attempting this channel. We feel nothing can compare to the conditions that might be encountered. It is warm water and the channel’s reputation, location, and expense weeds out wanna-be crossers.”

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