Rules question: paddler sprays sunscreen on swimmer's back

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
edited March 2016 in General Discussion
This discussion was created from comments split from: The MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming.
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  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    Is it within the rules or within the spirit of marathon swimming to have my kayaker spray sunblock on my back?

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    Kate_Alexander said:
    Is it within the rules or within the spirit of marathon swimming to have my kayaker spray sunblock on my back?

    Good question. I wouldn't think it assists speed, buoyancy, endurance, or thermal stability. Seems within the spirit to me.

    JenADanSimonelli
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited March 2016

    @Niek said: It does assist endurance. Without the extra spray the back could become to agitated to continue.

    It doesn't increase endurance beyond the already specified standard equipment, which includes Sunscreen.

    malinakaDanSimonelli
  • paulmpaulm Senior Member

    @Kate_Alexander - Kate one of the challenges you may face is that for the majority of sunscreen products to be effective they need to be applied to your dry skin at least 10 minutes before you get wet. If you know of a product that can be applied to wet skin & still be effective I / & I am sure others would love to know about it.

    DanSimonelliSolo
  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    Phew! I don't have to eschew.

  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited March 2016

    @niek said:
    It does assist endurance. Without the extra spray the back could become to agitated to continue.

    I think that @evmo makes good points, but that @niek makes good points too. I find these spirit-related discussions fascinating. I love to hear all the different thoughts on the matter. To approach this from a different angle, though, further to @paulm's point, the rules say:

    Responsible Environmental Stewardship

    Everyone involved in the swim attempt - swimmer, observer, support personnel, and escort boat personnel - must treat the environment respectfully and prevent avoidable harm to marine wildlife and ecosystems.

    Some may feel that it violates environmental stewardship to spray or squeeze sunblock just to have it go directly into the lake/ocean, or be rinsed off shortly thereafter.

    Perhaps there is a more environmentally friendly way? For what it's worth, I've had really good success with multiple coats of sunblock (three times, at minute 0, minute 30, and minute 60, maybe 30 minutes before a long swim), and my skin is so fair that I burn in the rain. :) This has worked for me for swims 18+ hour swims. Most of my swims are pretty close to half-way between the north pole and the equator, though.

    Applying a super-thin layer of vaseline would help keep the pre-applied sunblock from rinsing off, but the petroleum in the vaseline is probably worse than the sunblock. :(

    I can't find anything on the internet confirming how tanning oil is supposed to increase your tanning rate. I wonder if it's an urban myth. There's a wikipedia article that states that ancient Greeks used olive oil to prevent sunburn. Perhaps it would be a more environmentally friendly way of keeping sunblock in your skin. I'd love to ask a dermatologist about this...

    DanSimonelliSolo
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Headhunter makes a stick form of zinc sunscreen, which I found to be pretty stubborn about coming off, so I think it could possibly be applied in the water, if one is flexible enough. The upside of the stick is that you don't have to get any on your hands and it won't go into the water.

    I'd put some on my face at a beach after a swim, then later I drove out of the park and went "oh, look! No line at Jiffy Lube!" So I pulled in for an oil change and wondered why the guy was looking at me funny, until I went to the restroom and saw the results of using the zinc face stick. I tried rubbing some off/in with a paper towel so I wouldn't look quite as goofy, (my hair was already an unholy mess), but it was tough going to get much of it off.

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

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    Niek said:
    It does assist endurance. Without the extra spray the back could become to agitated to continue.

    By Channel Rules you can only hand the swimmer the jar with lanolin at the French side so that the swimmer can apply some himself before he plunges in for the second leg.

    So I think within the rule, the kayaker can only hand the spray-can to the swimmer.

    I agree with all of this. I could not swim nearly as far where I live without sunblock. Personally, I think sidling up to the kayak and having the padler spray my back is tantamount to touching and is not within the spirit of MS. I'm glad, tho, that it's apparently within the rules.

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    paulm said:
    @Kate_Alexander - Kate one of the challenges you may face is that for the majority of sunscreen products to be effective they need to be applied to your dry skin at least 10 minutes before you get wet. If you know of a product that can be applied to wet skin & still be effective I / & I am sure others would love to know about it.

    I haven’t tested the spray sunblock on wet skin yet (waiting for the next outing with my kayaker). I’m thinking it’s going to form into little droplets and not really work. But any little bit of extra sunblock that does stick would be a help on a very long swim.

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    JenA said:
    further to @paulm's point, the rules say:

    Responsible Environmental Stewardship

    Everyone involved in the swim attempt - swimmer, observer, support personnel, and escort boat personnel - must treat the environment respectfully and prevent avoidable harm to marine wildlife and ecosystems.

    Perhaps there is a more environmentally friendly way? For what it's worth, I've had really good success with multiple coats of sunblock (three times, at minute 0, minute 30, and minute 60, maybe 30 minutes before a long swim), and my skin is so fair that I burn in the rain. :) This has worked for me for swims 18+ hour swims. Most of my swims are pretty close to half-way between the north pole and the equator, though.

    There's a wikipedia article that states that ancient Greeks used olive oil to prevent sunburn.

    The sun is very strong in Cayman (latitude 19). Right now I am experimenting with a layer of Banana Boat SPF100 as an undercoat with a thick layer of Desitin on top. This is working for swims up to 6 hours. The Banana Boat 100 alone does not work past 7 hours.

    Banana Boat is so thick I don’t see how it could be applied in layers, but I’ll give it a try.

    The environmental issues are so complex. I agree that sunblock is very damaging to the ocean. There are over a million tourists a year in the water where I swim, most of them probably wearing sunblock. I have seen significant degradation of our reefs in the 16 years I’ve lived here. Some of it may be gloabal warming, but I bet a lot of it is sunblock.

    I have not tried any of the environmentally friendly sunblocks because I don’t think they will work well enough under our sun.

    Re: “avoidable harm” – a support boat, puttering along at 1 ½ to 2 miles an hour, puts a lot of fuel into the water and fumes into the air. That is always an uncomfortable point for me re: boat-escorted swims. The back wash from the propellers also disturbs sea life, especially in shallow water (we do a lot of boarding from water’s edge here rather than at a dock).

    Desitin does not seem to wash off, per se, in the water. But is it leaking toxins?

    Also Desitin clumps the hair on my forearms and now it occurs to me that I should comb the hair in some way after I apply it so my forearm hair is more hydrodynamic. Seriously, I think about stuff like that.

    A rash guard does not put any toxins into the water. It also is an impediment to swimming as it creates drag (not to mention the chafing), so it definitely does not assist or enhance speed. A rash guard seems like the perfect solution to sunburn, whereas sunblock is fraught with ethical problems if you look deep (and perhaps health problems if you care about it blocking your pores from breathing and going into your boyd via the skin). One is within the rules, the other is not.

    I use olive oil to roast vegetables – I wouldn’t trust it as a sunblock. If it makes the vegetables crispier what would it do for me?

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    Niek said:

    @evmo said:
    It doesn't increase endurance beyond the already specified standard equipment, which includes Sunscreen.

    Yes that's right but the ability to start with a thin layer instead of a thick layer of sunscreen (enough to last to the end) improves the motion in water. If the thin layer wears out the kayaker re-applies.

    Or do you like the thick layer? I think you also rather swim without any.

    The thickness of the sunblock doesn’t concern me. It’s not about having a thin layer for more efficiency. My only concern is getting sunburned. I would wear Crisco shortening applied with a 2-by-4 if it would prevent sunburn.

    I hate wearing sunblock and don’t usually wear it, except when I’m swimming mid-day or for more than 3 hours.

    And I’ve tried applying the spray to my back but I can’t get good coverage for anything longer than 2 hours.

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember
    edited March 2016

    wendyv34 said:
    Headhunter makes a stick form of zinc sunscreen, which I found to be pretty stubborn about coming off, so I think it could possibly be applied in the water, if one is flexible enough. The upside of the stick is that you don't have to get any on your hands and it won't go into the water.

    I'm picturing a new product, like those back massagers, but one that applies stick sunblock

    a kind of Frankensunblock product

    JenASolo
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited March 2016

    Kate_Alexander said: Personally, I think sidling up to the kayak and having the paddler spray my back is tantamount to touching and is not within the spirit of MS. I'm glad, tho, that it's apparently within the rules.

    I'm not sure why this would be "tantamount to touching." It seems equivalent to the crew handing the swimmer a feed bottle - i.e., allowed, as long as the swimmer isn't physically supported.

    Sunscreen is standard equipment. Method of delivery isn't specified (assuming no physical contact).

    Environmental impact is a separate and (IMO) more significant issue. If spray sunscreen is more damaging to the environment than lotion-based sunscreen, then yes, it would be problematic according to "prevent avoidable harm."

    Any experts out there on relative environmental impact of different types of sunscreen, including Desitin? Possibly it also depends on the body of water... proximity to sensitive coral reefs, etc.

    paulmdaveyswims
  • JbetleyJbetley UKMember

    I had something like this at the turn of my Catalina swim last year. Actually Helen rigged up a loofah type thing from a local pharmacy with a sock over the end. After drying myself down with a towel, I then dipped the loofah/sock into the gloopy mix of (I think) zinc and sun cream, and rubbed it all over my back. Lots of helpful comments like 'you've missed a bit, no right, no left' etc. I would have probably done a better job if I were fresh, but in addition to the multiple applications of P20 prior to the swim start, it did mean I didn't burn after a subsequent full day in the Californian sun, and I am pretty pale-skinned.

    JenAflystorms
  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    Jbetley said:
    ... the gloopy mix of (I think) zinc and sun cream

    what kind of zinc did you use? Desitin? Zinka? powdered zinc? and approximately what proportions? half and half?

  • edited March 2016

    This is an important issue as we get to better understand the dangers of excessive sun exposure. and those of us in sunnier climes are rightly concerned.

    I think it both sensible and reasonable that a helper be allowed to apply sun protection to a swimmer whilst in the water, out of contact with any vessel or object. Sprays and light creams will be washed off if applied in water, I'm thinking of the thicker Desitin style of cream that could be applied to the face, shoulders, above the costume line in the small of the back etc... the prime sun burn areas.

    I'd like to see it in the rules for clarity and finality.

  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member

    i once saw lynne cox speak and she was asked what she would do if there was a big event and the water's purity had been compromised , would she still swim? and her answer stuck with me , she said no, i swim for my health and i think that's the correct answer to this question being discussed. I swim for my health (and happiness) and should i ever swim long enough to wear off the zinc or the sunscreen someone should be able to reapply it to my body without penalty. this doesn't make me swim faster...but i guess one could argue it does allow me to swim longer since i won't develop cancer :).

    SoloJaimie
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    @j9swim, I heard her speak too, and she talks about her swim in the Nile where she swam right into a dead dog, like literally her hand went into the dead dog. That might have been the turning point for her. ;)

    dpm50

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • JenAJenA Charter Member

    If a swimmer can apply the product themselves (via @Kate_Alexander's back massager or @jbetley's sock-covered-loofa), then it would be assistive for someone on the swimmer's team to do it for them, no? The swimmer receiving assistance would be receiving assistance... aka, an assisted swim, no? They'd almost certainly save time over the person who applied the product themselves.

    I've used a dis-assemble-able, plastic spatula (flexible head on a rigid handle) in the past to reapply grease. I like this solution because it can keep a swimmer's hands muck-free.

    It's a different story If it's impossible for a swimmer to obtain the same health state on their own compared to a swimmer who receives help.

    evmoKate_Alexander
  • JenAJenA Charter Member
    edited March 2016

    I partially agree with @Niek. I think it would be anti-spirit-of-open-water-swimming to skip by "1" (swimmer can self-apply) and proceed directly to "2" (crew applies without touching swimmer) if "1" is a feasible, workable solution. IE: If you can adequately manage your sun protection by self-applying SPF 100 via a sock on a loofa, that's the appropriate route to go. I think it would be anti-spirit to skip self-applying SPF 100 and proceed directly to having someone else apply something without touching that you can't self-apply,

    In the trade-off between health vs the spirit of open water swimming, I think the concept of minimal intervention is an important one. In my own case, I lose 10-15 minutes of swimming per hour to type 1 diabetes management (blood glucose testing, insulin pump adjustments, etc.). Sure, it would be a lot easier for me to saddle up to the boat, have my crew grab my hand and test me that way, but since it's possible for me to test my blood glucose while treading water, that's exactly what I do -- even it it slows me down substantially.

    I think it's a different story if an unavoidable health condition (such as inclination to sunburn) cannot be managed independently by the swimmer during a swim.

    I think we, as a community, have acknowledged that the rules can be improved regarding treatment of unavoidable health conditions during swims. At the moment, for example, every swim I do is technically assisted, because insulin is on the list of performance-enhancing drugs. :(

    Side note: I had no idea what Desitin was, so I looked it up. As it turns out, the Desitin Maximum Strength Original Paste: Zinc Oxide Paste is fish-flavoured. ;-) It contains cod liver oil.

    Kate_Alexander
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited March 2016

    WarmWater said: I think it both sensible and reasonable that a helper be allowed to apply sun protection to a swimmer whilst in the water, out of contact with any vessel or object. ...

    I'm thinking of the thicker Desitin style of cream

    There seems to be an assumption that Desitin would even need to be re-applied in the middle of swim. I asked famous Desitin user Jaimie Monahan @jmm234, who spent 32+ hours in Lake Geneva last summer. She says it stayed on fine the whole swim, no need to re-apply.

    JenA
  • JenAJenA Charter Member

    Aww, thanks @Niek. It is very kind of you to look that up. :)

    However, MSF rules (as I understand them, anyway) don't have provisions for therapeutic usage exceptions. Insulin is on the list of performance-enhancing drugs, and MSF rules deem performance-enhancing drugs as performance-enhancing equipment. Therefore, my swims are currently classified as 'assisted'.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited March 2016

    @JenA said: MSF rules (as I understand them, anyway) don't have provisions for therapeutic usage exceptions. ... Therefore, my swims are currently classified as 'assisted'.

    It's true that MSF Rules don't currently include a therapeutic use exemption, though I would think if WADA acknowledges the legitimate use of insulin, then by corollary so would MSF Rules.

    But it should probably be clarified further. This is one of those things that simply didn't come up in the original writing & review process (like analog watches, as some may recall). I think clearly the use of insulin by a diabetic isn't equivalent to fins or wetsuits. Thanks Jen for bringing this up and hopefully we'll find a good way to integrate this in the next iteration of the rules.

    Anyone know of therapeutic use exemptions in other sports federations' bylaws, which might be used as a model?

    JenAIronMike
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    Absolutely agree that insulin use by diabetics in marathon swimming should not penalize the swimmer in any way.

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember
    edited March 2016

    JenA said:
    If a swimmer can apply the product themselves (via @Kate_Alexander's back massager or @jbetley's sock-covered-loofa), then it would be assistive for someone on the swimmer's team to do it for them, no? The swimmer receiving assistance would be receiving assistance... aka, an assisted swim, no? They'd almost certainly save time over the person who applied the product themselves.

    This is what I was thinking when I originally posted the question. I think the paddler spraying block on my back is going too far.

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    JenA said:

    Side note: I had no idea what Desitin was, so I looked it up. As it turns out, the Desitin Maximum Strength Original Paste: Zinc Oxide Paste is fish-flavoured. ;-) It contains cod liver oil.

    Too funny! Now I get to worry about being shark and barracuda bait.

  • Kate_AlexanderKate_Alexander Spring Lake, MichiganMember

    evmo said:

    WarmWater said: I think it both sensible and reasonable that a helper be allowed to apply sun protection to a swimmer whilst in the water, out of contact with any vessel or object. ...

    I'm thinking of the thicker Desitin style of cream

    There seems to be an assumption that Desitin would even need to be re-applied in the middle of swim. I asked famous Desitin user Jaimie Monahan @jmm234, who spent 32+ hours in Lake Geneva last summer. She says it stayed on fine the whole swim, no need to re-apply.

    Desitin has been staying on fine for 6-hour swims, and on my forearms it works better than the Banana Boat 100. But my back gets all the sun, so I'm hoping it will not wear thin in salt water on a longer swim.

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