When To Stand Up, Walk, Crawl Or Swim?

When To Stand Up, Walk, Crawl Or Swim?

As people swim in more places around the world, many people are swimming in warm, tropical places as are the hordes of hardened swimmers are increasing in cold, temperate locations.

We wonder how the new MSF Rules will handle certain issues, especially with swims in locations where swimmers come across coral reefs at low tide, exposed sand bars, or low-lying natural parts of geography or manmade structures (e.g., old parts of piers, bridges or marine facilities) during a swim.

Swimmers in various parts of the world can come across coral reefs, rocks, jetties, kelp beds, old pier pilings or other natural geography or manmade structures (i.e., not a boat, skiff, kayak or paddle board) during their swim or when the swimming portion of their swim is over (i.e., when they can stand up in the water or they cannot swim anymore because of the depth).

So we wondered, what is legal under MSF Rules and acceptable by the marathon swimming community?

The issue can be a conundrum because swimmers can face with two distinct choices, especially if they time the tides wrong in certain waterways.

Swimmers can either (1) walk or crawl or pull themselves over the coral reef, sand bar or low-lying exposed parts of terra firma or marine structures, or (2) swim somewhere else in order to find a way around (or through) the coral reef, sand bar or low-lying exposed parts of terra firm or marine structures. In many cases, the second choice can be problematic especially in rivers with boulders, around atolls or between tropical islands.

So we wonder is it acceptable to walk or crawl or pull yourself over a coral reef or sand bar or other bits of geography or structures during a swim that adhere to the MSF Rules? Or must a swimmer continue to swim from start to finish or from shore to shore (i.e., not walk, crawl or pull themselves in any way)?

Then we wondered, when is the swimming part of a swim over? At what point can a swimmer stand up and walk to shore? Are there specific rules to govern this issue? Under FINA rules for example, OWS 6.6 states, “Standing on the bottom during a race shall not disqualify a swimmer, but they may not walk or jump.”

For tall swimmers like Ned Denison or Jerome Leslie can start walking a lot sooner (and faster) than a shorter swimmer.

At what point can a swimmer start to walk to the finish as oppose to swim? At what point – or can they – pull themselves along the ocean floor by grabbing on to the sand or reef or rocks under the water?

As a practical matter in marathon swims, swimmers have generally been able to stand up and walk at the point where they can swim no more at the start or finish, but what happens when this is an issue during a swim?

Upper photo above shows the Nukasiga Sand Bar that is exposed twice per day along the Fiji Swims 18 km course. Lower photo shows Jerome Leslie with Nahant Knuckleheads teammate Elaine Howley.

SteveCopyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones