Rules question - transmitting heat/cold to the swimmer

evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
edited May 2015 in General Discussion

It's been a while since there's been a good hearty rules discussion on this board, so I thought I'd throw this topic out there.

I think (or hope) we can all agree that a swimmer should not be allowed to take a bath in warm water during a cold-water marathon swim (e.g., by having tubs or buckets dumped on them from the boat, or getting doused by a high-pressure hose).

At the same time, drinking warm feeds is a standard practice on cold swims (just as cold feeds are standard on warm swims). So there's not a blanket prohibition against offsetting the swimmer's thermal discomfort.

Where is the line between an acceptable transmission of heat/cold to the swimmer (e.g., feeds), and an unacceptable one? (e.g., taking a shower from the boat).

Is it whether the heat/cold is being applied by the swimmer on their own (feeding), vs. whether the crew is doing it? If so, can a swimmer can drink part of a feed bottle, and dump the rest on their head? Taken further: What if the swimmer feeds from a large bucket -- drink a sip or two and then dump two gallons of warm/cold liquid on themselves?

It's difficult to know where to draw the line, because seemingly acceptable and trivial practices (dumping feed bottle on one's head) can easily be taken to an extreme.

Any ideas welcome. Andrew, Elaine, Donal, and I will incorporate this discussion into the upcoming iteration MSF Rules.



  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member

    Are things like this not broadly covered in the section: The Spirit of Marathon swimming?

    "Marathon swimmers embrace the challenge of crossing wild, open bodies of water with minimal assistance beyond their own physical strength and mental fortitude. There are ways to make the sport easier, but marathon swimmers consciously eschew them."

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    edited May 2015

    Imbibe: OK

    Waterboarding: Not ok.


    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • Surely dumping water hot water in your head only keeps you warm until you put your head back down. I'd say applying hot water while in cold water would be a hindrance.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited May 2015

    phodgeszoho said:
    Are things like this not broadly covered in the section: The Spirit of Marathon swimming?

    "Marathon swimmers embrace the challenge of crossing wild, open bodies of water with minimal assistance beyond their own physical strength and mental fortitude. There are ways to make the sport easier, but marathon swimmers consciously eschew them."

    @phodgeszoho, I suppose it is, but in some cases there can be significant differences in interpretation of what the "spirit of the sport" calls for. Personally I'm not sure dumping a warm feed bottle on one's head is consistent with the spirit, but apparently that is a fairly common practice on certain swims.

    We also recently became aware of a swim on which the crew was applying warm water directly to the swimmer - which I'm fairly certain is inconsistent with the spirit, but is not explicitly disallowed by any marathon swimming rules I am aware of (including MSF Rules).

    In such cases, it seems preferable to make a strong, clear statement to reduce ambiguities and variations in interpretation. I believe this is one of those cases.

  • gregocgregoc Charter Member

    I would interpret dumping warm water on a swimmer during a cold water marathon swim as changing the environment. If this isn't prohibited by OWS rules it should be.

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member

    I cannot imagine that dumping a bucket of warm water on your head can be an effective way of warming in a cold water swim.

    I think the thought that it could be arises from the practice of runners of dumping water on their heads to cool down. These two are not equivalent. The vast majority of the cooling effect from being doused with water is from the evaporation of the water, not from the temperature difference between the water and the body.

    The specific heat of water is roughly 4J/g, while the latent heat of evaporation is ~2200J/g. A runner could dump near scalding water (~110F or 43C) on their head and still cool down.

    For a swimmer the heating effect of the dousing is going to be purely through the heat transfer of the water. The problem here is that with the bucket application the water either misses the body or only has transient contact with it. There is not going to be significant heat transfer from that approach.

    evmognome4766 - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • TheoTheo Oxnard, CAMember

    I guess I am somewhat of a "hard core" advocate. I am OK will ingesting a warm feed but not OK with dumping any warm liquid on the head or rest of the body. Also as a frequent observer it is best to have a clear understanding of the rule so that it is applied equitably between swims. As Evan pointed out above if you allow dumping of warm liquid on the swimmer then what is the volume threshold? Even if physically there may be an argument that the effects of the warm liquid dumping may be non existent or even a negative I think the psychological effect for someone pouring the liquid on themselves is not in line with the spirit of a Marathon swim.

    I also think that without a doubt any application of warm liquids from the boat or support team is against the rules similar to allowing the crew to place on a new cap, swimsuit, stinger suit, etc.

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member

    gregoc said:
    I would interpret dumping warm water on a swimmer during a cold water marathon swim as changing the environment. If this isn't prohibited by OWS rules it should be.

    Agree. Swimmer ingesting hot/cold liquids ok. Any hot/cold liquid purposefully applied to the swimmer externally Either by the swimmer or by the crew is an environment changing event and should be disallowed.

  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited May 2015

    We're faced a little with a "I can't define pornography but I know it when I see it" situation.

    @dc_in_sf, the benefits of heat transfer can be psychological as much as physical. A swimmer who feels cold may benefit mentally. After all the specific heat transfer of a tepid/warm liquid of >350ml to a body massing 80kg is limited, but we know how a warm drink can help mentally.

    @gregoc & @phodgeszoho, @Helbe. What happens if I as crew pour 700ml on your face? Or if I give you a warm drink and you drink 300ml and pour 700ml on your face? Hey, what about floating on your back and (for the men anyway) gymnastically peeing back on yourself and transferring internal? (Exclude the preposterousness of this idea).

    What about simply holding a warm drink for longer in your hands during your feed?

    Take @dc_in_sf's figures that the environment isn't changed. Does that change the situation? How about the aforementioned mental aid? The end result is the same, method of application changes the context.

    This is not an academic distinction, it's this situation that we are trying to figure out how to recognise.

    BTW, recall also that She Who Must Not be Named proposed that "Heat Drip device" which we as a community were generally against.

    The spirit section was explicitly put in to reduce these unforeseen type of situations, nonetheless we have one. I think the rules committee know our individual thoughts on this, but we want to tease out your thoughts also a bit further.


  • gregocgregoc Charter Member

    Nutrition taken internally throu the mouth by the swimmer no matter the temperature is OK. Anything applied to the swimmer by anyone else is not OK. Anything used by the swimmer to warm externally is not OK. Sunblock, grease, etc. applied by the swimmer is OK. Re-application of grease by a swimmer during a swim to try and retain heat, is that OK?

  • Kevin_in_MDKevin_in_MD Senior Member

    How about if the swimmer does it, it's OK. You can dump your own bottle on your head. If you want a 5 gallon bucket of water dumped on you, you need to hoist it off the feeding pole (undoubtedly a massive feeding pole) and dump it on yourself.

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    If you don't consume your warm feed; you can't have any pudding!


    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • phodgeszohophodgeszoho UKSenior Member

    "but in some cases there can be significant differences in interpretation" @evmo

    This was kind of my point for quoting the "spirit" guideline. To me it is sort of the "rule" that covers everything else.

    Looking beyond the specific issue being discussed here (transmitting heat to the swimmer) and thinking about the nature of "rules" I worry that there is a danger of constantly trying to define new rules and refining existing ones.

    Unfortunately rules will always have the potential to be open to interpretation by people who wish to. Even without malicious intent there can be multiple interpretations.

    In the end is there not also merit in trying to keep things simple and based on some core guidelines and principles?

    Today we are discussing a potential new rule to address deliberately poring heated water other a swimmer, either by themselves or by support crew. In the future we may be discussing sub clauses to deal with interpretations around this rule.

    Keep it simple. :-)

  • msathletemsathlete Victoria, British Colubia, CanadaMember

    Could this not be covered under "Without artificial assistance to performance" and standard equipment?

  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member

    If you are given one of your "normal" feeds at your "normal" interval, what you choose to do with it is up to you. I would claim that is within the spirit of the rules. So, if I get my (new) usual 12 oz of water/Lady Grey/maltodextrin on my usual 30 minute interval, I can drink it, pour it over me, give myself an enema with it, dump it in the ocean, throw it back at my brother, Keith, on the boat (there's a story there), or any combination there of.

    Any large deviation from that norm is an attempt to get external aid, even if, as @dc_in_sf points out that the physical effects are minimal, and that is against the spirit of the rules.



    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    After reading your first sentence, I thought "enema". I wasn't disappointed when I read the rest of the paragraph. =D>


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

Sign In or Register to comment.