I am stupid and don't know what a mile is

NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
Several swims I have seen recommend one be able to swim a mile in under 35-40 minutes.

The FAQ on the SCAR swim is the only one to have defined it as a swimmer mile (1650 yards).

So, does that mean for swims like the Sharkfest that they're recommending that one be able to swim 1650 in 40 minutes or do they mean the 1740 yard kind? (I'd been training with the idea I'd have to hit that speed for a land mile).

If the first, I am closer to my goal than I thought....


  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member
    edited January 2015
    @NoelFigart your not stupid, however a little bit of USA swimming history may be in order. The metric system is the standard virtually everywhere in the world but America. The 1500 meter freestyle has been a Olympic and World event since 1908. However in the USA most of the swimming pools were and still are 25-yards long. The closest you can come to 1500 meters in a yards pool and finish at the wall is 1650 yards. Even though it's a bit short of a true mile, in typical American hubris, the 1650 soon became known as the mile by coaches and swimmers alike.

    My feeling that most USA race directors are likely referring (without actually thinking about it that much) to the 1650 yard event, as that is the pool race that most Masters Swimming and age group pool competitors in the USA, can actually compete in.

    Bottom line if the open water race is saying a mile in 40-minutes or less if you can do 1650 yards or 1500 meters in that time or less will be acceptable to most USA race directors. FYI - Many open water events make you put down a time in the application but it's mostly honor system.

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    I am aware that the Olympic event is 1500 meters and that's approximately 1650 yards (and yes, the pool I train in is 25 yards). @Niek yes, 1760 yards on the land mile. Didn't proofread...

    It is comforting to know they probably mean the swimmer mile. Not too far from being able to do that now...
  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    Over here in the UK a mile in OW swimming events refers to statute mile or a land mile! For open water events we are often asked to quote our mile time when entering, so we usually quote the time it takes to swim 1600 metres (ish). (I know that an actual mile is 9 metres longer).Lots of our events are based on mile distances e.g. the Great Swim series and the majority of the BLDSA events are measured in miles.
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    I love it when someone asks "How long does it take you to swim a mile?" I usually answer, "how long is that mile, exactly?" or "21-26 minutes, depending...." Those responses are met with a quizzical look by non-swimmers. I don't get too worked up about open water times, because there are so many variables, starting with how accurately the course was measured.

    Race directors should specify (and many do) exactly what they mean, like "1650 scy pool time", so that they are comparing apples to apples.

    It would be nice if everything was measured in meters. :D

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • tortugatortuga Senior Member
    edited January 2015
    Following these conversations. Education for me. I come from triathlon background where I 'assumed' 2.4 mile swim was statute miles...Hmmmm. Can we make this thing more complicated?
  • Up till the 1950's there was a US Nautical mile that was 1.248 meters longer than the International Nautical mile, because we had to be all difficult like that. physics.nist.gov/Pubs/SP447/app4.pdf

    I believe that statue miles are actually occasionally used with inland waterways, for example in some of the NOAA charts for the great lakes region. In any case distance is distance, regardless of the units you use (miles, kilometers, cubits ...). While race directors are certainly welcome to use nautical miles when giving the distance for an open water event (I think this would be fun), they should explicitly write out nautical mile (or NM or nmi) and not use 'mile' as a short hand for 'nautical mile' because they are two distinct units for distance and mixing the two is just a recipe for confusion.
  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
    edited January 2015
    I can't speak for other RDs in the USA, but we use statute miles to measure the distance of a swim course in Massachusetts. The reason for this is most people (in the USA) are used to the statute mile (even swimmers). Unless you are a boater most people in the USA are not even aware or a nautical mile. I personally think that everything should be metric and distances should be in kilometers whether on land or in the water. For some reason the USA has shunned the metric system.
  • Chris_ODChris_OD Oceanside, CAMember
    I'm ignorant also with the nautical mile vs. land mile. However for such an aggressive swim, currents, rough water, cold, scariness, you probably should be under the longer distance with time to spare.
  • LynneLynne Member
    In the spirit of this thread - is there an official distance for 'a swim'. When is a swim a swim and not a dip?

    It may sound pedantic, but someone raised the question on fb and I was wondering if there was an answer.
  • bruckbruck San FranciscoMember
    I have never heard of this notion - that there is a minimum distance of a 'swim.' What's the context in which the question arose?
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    Lynne wrote: »
    In the spirit of this thread - is there an official distance for 'a swim'. When is a swim a swim and not a dip?

    Everyone will probably have their own definition of this, but I use the term "not long enough to bother getting wet for". If I can shower in less time than the swim took, it wasn't worth getting wet for.

    When I did triathlons, I wouldn't bother with any race that had less than a half mile swim and at that, half a mile is a sprint. I won't waste my time going to a swim meet unless there's a 1650. I also have a thing about how far I'm willing to travel to swim, the swim distance needs to be proportional to the driving distance. An exception to that might be the significance of the race, like nationals or some other cool factor, like a sea monster. If I'm going to spend all day driving, it needs to be longer than 5K or there should be multiple races.

    When it's hot and you need to cool off for a few minutes or when people do those polar bear plunges, where the hair stays dry, those are "dips".

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • LynneLynne Member
    bruck wrote: »
    I have never heard of this notion - that there is a minimum distance of a 'swim.' What's the context in which the question arose?

    Bruck, the question arose in relation to Lewis Pugh and his 5 Antarctica swims
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    I can enjoy a 50 freestyle in a whole other way than open water events. And then there's a fun series of half mile river swims in the Philly area sqq inexpensive entry fees ($15 prereg price... Easy commute, barbecue afterward for $5 extra, fun low-key events!

    I don't really get hung up on whether to call my day's distance a dip or a swim any more than when I run someone calls my pace jogging or running (as long as you don't have to call me injured). I only ask if it fulfilled what I wanted to achieve on any given day, whether 100 free or one mile or a bunch of miles. I do it for the joy of it. Call it what you will and pour me a pint afterward--all good!
  • I can vouch for here in the US, most of us do not think in Nautical miles. Last year we all kind of gasped at one swim when we realized it was measured in 8 nautical miles, meaning for the way that the majority thought the swim was actually more like 9 miles. Yes the swim was conceived of by an avid boater. As far as when is a swim a swim and not a dip....really? I recently had to do 3 sessions in a day due to time problems. The first one was only 16 minutes. It wasn't far but I tried to be fast and I counted it as a swim...

  • bluemermaid9bluemermaid9 Boca Raton, FL, United StatesSenior Member

    HollyT, I was one of those people who gasped, and I was doing a 4-person relay.

  • bluemermaid- are you doing it again this year? I tried the relay thing last year, and found that I'm not a team player (Oh such drama!) so I'm trying to get it done solo this year...We'll see about those jellyfish.

  • GeochuckGeochuck Delta BC CanadaMember

    A mile is a mile in swimming, a nautical mile is for boating

  • GeochuckGeochuck Delta BC CanadaMember

    My training was 5 miles in less than two hours. Sometimes twice a day.

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member

    Man, you're talkin' to a turtle and a a wanna-be. I'm faster than I was, but no, I'm never gonna be as good as that!

  • JenAJenA Charter Member

    Early races in Lake Ontario had a "Molson Mile"... :-)

  • GeochuckGeochuck Delta BC CanadaMember

    Labatts brewery sponsored the 10 mile race in Hamilton Ontario

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