Do we really need sanctioning/ratifying organizations?

ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

This is something I’ve been chewing on for a few years now, so please bear with me. I don’t know the right answers, so I thought maybe we could start a discussion here.

At what point can swimmers bail on an existing sanctioning/ratifying organization? Some organizations, such as the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, the CSA and the CS&PF, really do offer a great service to swimmers. For example, you can’t swim the English Channel without the CSA or CS&PF and I wouldn’t suggest doing a Catalina swim without the CCSF. These groups provide local knowledge, have vetted boat captains to see you across safely, send someone out to watch you, help provide basic medical care in case of an emergency, and provide legitimacy to a swim/swimmer. But what happens when a group isn’t doing their job anymore? What do you do when a sanctioning organization is essentially the same as the boat pilot and you have no choice except to pay extraordinary fees because these people have a monopoly over a body of water?

Right now, the status quo seems to be that you just suck it up, keep your mouth shut, follow weird rules, suffer through lack of communication, and hope that you make it. I’m just not sure that’s going to cut it anymore. Why should one group/organization/person essentially “own” a body of water, and for our community to vilify swimmers who find alternatives when they don’t want to pay huge fees for a swim when they can logically and safely complete a swim without hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in extra fees?

Yes, I can think of several locations worldwide where those fees are worth it and I would happily pay up for a cool swim. But, I can also think of even more places where I’m not so sure it is worth it, and where new groups are even popping up where people have been happily swimming for years without them. From a swimmer’s perspective, you can’t help but to feel taken advantage of and stranded without local knowledge- so you just go for it with what you have available and keep following. But, the costs of a marathon swim are already high. By the time you pay for a boat, pay for your travel, and then pay federation fees, you are easily looking at $5000-$10,000. I swam 104 miles in a lake, self-supported (and lived!) for far less than what we have to pay for an organized swim of 20 miles. Something isn’t right, but I don’t know what we can do.

I 100% support the idea of documenting swims with an observer, particularly if you’re claiming a first or a record of some kind. I agree that swim records should be stored somewhere, for posterity. I like reading about swims people did, following GPS tracks, and seeing pictures. Somewhere down the road, I hope, someone will want to know about all the swimming we did, in the same way we look back at swims in the early 1900s and think, “How neat- I wish we had more information!” In Pre-Nyad days, I think a simple recount of the swim that was done was fine, but we have her to thank for instilling a large amount of distrust into our community. We can no longer take people’s word at face value, which is sad, but now I think it’s part of our community’s swim history. Though, another part of me asks: As long as someone isn’t claiming a first or a record, does it even matter how well their swim was documented? So what if they’re making money off of their swimming or raising money for a cause and they wore a wetsuit or cut a corner or saved a few hundred bucks and had their husband kayak 20 miles instead of renting a boat? Does it really matter to me? I don’t know that it does!

A friend messaged me today, asking for advice: She wants to do a 20k swim, in a lake close to her home. There are a few groups who help swimmers across in her particular area, but they have weird rules and high fees. She asked what she should do:
1. Go rouge and swim it on her own with her own support/observers, and just leave it at that?
2. Go rouge and beg the MSF to ratify her swim when it’s done?
3. Suck it up and deal with the absurdity of the rules and fees, just to have it done “right”?

I didn’t know what to tell her, other than she’s not alone and I’m hearing of more and more swimmers facing this conundrum. What do we do, as a community? How can we fix broken organizations? How do we prevent new, ridiculous groups from coming in? What is our responsibility to keep costs minimal so we don’t price out really good swimmers who simply can’t afford $5000/swim?

emkhowleyevmoCopelj26Webstem67JaimieIronMikethelittlemerwookielakesprayFlowSwimmersSydneDand 6 others.
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Comments

  • slknightslknight Member
    edited February 6

    Reminds me a bit of this thread which got weird:

    https://forum.marathonswimmers.org/discussion/comment/19563/

    I feel like there was another similar one too.

    ssthomasevmorlmFlowSwimmersDanSimonelli
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    Oh yes, I totally remember that thread now. NYOW is another group I'd say we need. I wouldn't go messing around in those waters without them.

    But, yeah, similar idea- why can't we just go friggin swimming? Why does it have to be SUCH a big deal? And what do we do with groups that try and prevent us from swimming?

    Bridget
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member

    If I had a nickel for every time I've had this conversation recently... I'd be able to buy a beer or two by now.

    I think sanctioning bodies and swim organizations can be amazing resources, and I second the praise of the CCSF and some of the other organizations I've swum with that have made many of my swims safer and easier to arrange. They also provide an incalculable value in curating the history of the sport. All this takes time, money, and the efforts of people who care. For organizations that do it right, they provide a wealth of value to swimmers who pay their fees.

    But you're absolutely right--not all of these organizations are created equal, and how swimmers can best manage an underperforming one is a problem worth discussing. The validity that an organization can bring to bear in sanctioning a swim is very important. But if one is not doing its job--which I generally think is to facilitate access to a certain waterway or swim for as many swimmers as possible--or is blocking out certain swimmers for whatever reason (exorbitant fees, politics, ego, etc.), that's not right.

    That said, if there is a local governing body, I think swimmers should at least try to work with them. They're there (or were originally founded) for a reason, right? Whether it's permitting issues, safety concerns, or local knowledge of routes or potential planning and execution pitfalls, these organizations often shoulder a lot of burden to ensure that the waterway remains open to other swimmers in the future. Certainly, in cases of an unreasonable organization or administrator, finding an alternative might become necessary. But I don't think it's wise for people to just willy-nilly ignore the existence of a sanctioning body and bandit a swim. That doesn't strike me a being the right answer either.

    From the perspective of people who run sanctioning bodies (I help @gregoc run MOWSA)--these organizations require a deceptive amount of time and energy to administer, and often (or at least in our case) generate no financial enrichment for the principals. In many cases, they're a labor of love that at times can seem so very much not worth the hassle. And eventually, most people who form these groups need to consider moving on. Succession planning is hard. Finding someone to step into a leadership role, especially one with few tangible rewards, can be excruciatingly difficult. And once someone new comes in and takes over, the organization and how it operates will likely change--not always for the better. It's a challenge for both swimmers and administrators.

    There's a big swath of grey area here, and I don't have any answers either. But I want to hear more about what others think.

    evmoflystormsJaimierlmFlowSwimmersSydneDAlex_Arevaloj9swimgregocKarl_Kingeryand 1 other.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...
    https://elainekhowley.com/

  • Copelj26Copelj26 ChicagoMember

    So, the swim I am trying to figure out for myself this year, to my knowledge has no sanctioning body.

    I am reaching out to Marine police unit, coast guard, park and beach authorities and attempting to organize the various permits/approvals myself.

    I have reached out to a couple of the 6 people that have attempted this or similar swims in the area before, they have provided information and suggestions but generally I am winging it.

    This admittedly will keep the cost down significantly versus the other swims I considered this year. It would be nice if there was more structure that I could lean to for help but putting a $ value on that I find challenging. I also like to think as a community, that people getting in the water and promoting safe, healthy water habits is the aim versus an organization making money but I may have higher hopes for people than is reality.

    On a personal level, for my pwn psyche, do I need the swim sanctioned, I dunno, I plan to issue rules to follow during the swim based on general MSF rules, I will use a tracker etc. but do I need someone to validate me and my swim, well..maybe not.

    ssthomasevmoJaimieabbygirlroseJustSwimFlowSwimmersgregocBridget
  • Sara_WolfSara_Wolf Member
    edited February 6

    I'm new to the marathon swimming world -- officially, at least -- but from what I can gather.....
    Whether or not MSF ratifies a swim doesn't necessarily have to do with whether a swim was swum under the guidance/auspices of any one particular sanctioning body. The criteria for recognition have to do with documentation, not affiliation. So, there's that. (Please correct my understanding if I'm wrong).

    BUT, sanctioning bodies do offer that local knowledge, vetting of participants (especially pilots, captains, boats, and other vessels), administrative assistance, and other very real assistance to marathon swimmers. Some of those events are organized (swim across Chesapeake Bay, Hellespont race), and others on a more individual basis (EC or Catalina, for instance).

    Perhaps I'm being naive....but, the REAL "water police" are the members of the Coast Guard (or local equivalent for international locales), right? Some bodies of water (EC, for instance) have rules associated with who's permitted to pilot someone across -- I"m assuming those rules are in place partly to adhere to Coast Guard and Immigration rules. Others, not so much. So, as long as the swimmer isn't running afoul of the Coast Guard or other police organization..... and as long as the documentation is complete..... swimming with/without the benefit of guidance of a sanctioning body is up to the swimmer.

    Maybe this is where the importance of MSF comes in to play.... it functions as the repository of official documentation of swims for ratification and historical research purposes. MSF doesn't actually control anything about the swim completion, though. The rules are written, yes.... and, the expectation that to get a swim ratified means that it was swum in accordance with the rules. But, if someone wants to SAY they swum a swim.... but they haven't submitted it for ratification -- in 50 years when some researcher is doing a historical project on marathon swims.... that swim wouldn't be available for inclusion in the project.

    I guess I"m looking at it sort of like marathon running. There's nothing stopping anyone from looking up the route of the Boston Marathon, heading out to the starting line.... hitting "go" on their watch, and hoofing it all the way to Boston. And yeah... they've "run" the Boston Marathon (route), they don't get credit for having ACTUALLY run it... in April, on the day... etc. etc. Or, we have a group of people who measured out a 26.2 mile course in our town that they use as a marathon in January.... but it's not verified or entered into any running database. Even if people who ran it wanted to enter their times in a database...it wouldn't be ratified, because it doesn't meet all the rule requirements.

    So, swim............. don't swim........... as your comfort/finances/tolerance for pre-swim stress/marine law or rules/ permits. If you want it ratified in any way....... submit the documentation to MSF.
    Afterall, Sarah Thomas trailblazed a route up and down Lake Champlain... by the rules, on her "own" (her fabulous team being a part of her "own"), and outside of any official sanctioning body at that time.

    Edited to add:
    I just saw this note on the MSF ratification rules page:
    "Please note: Swim routes governed by established local sanctioning organizations are not eligible for MSF Documented Swims, unless there is consent from the relevant organization."
    Does that mean that a swimmer who swims the SAME route that some local sanctioning organization has established, must have their permission to get it potentially ratified by MSF, even if the swimmer swam it "rogue"?
    OR
    Does that mean that if a swimmer swims a different route that happens to cross the same body of water controlled by a sanctioning body that the swimmer could have the route ratified, regardless of what the sanctioning body thinks?
    OR
    Does it mean something else?

    evmoCopelj26JaimieFlowSwimmersgregocKarl_Kingery
  • Tracy_ClarkTracy_Clark Norwich, United Kingdom (from Auckland, New Zealand)Member

    This really saddens me to write and I don't even want to say which body of water it is...but if you look up my home country, that's a dead giveaway.

    I constantly get asked how to get the person''s attention who runs the organisation, is the only 'official' pilot and the only observer. The communication is shocking - if it can be called that. There is another chap who has piloted a few swimmers across and because the one man organisation won't supply an observer these swims won't be recognised by the official organisation. The new boat pilot is so enthusiastic and very experienced as he's been taking kayakers across this body of water for years.

    How screwed up is that when there are enough swimmers for two pilots so it's definitely not driven by money.

    Any thoughts would be greatly welcomed. As @emkhowley says - if I had a drink for every message, email or call about my home town swim, I would have a lifetime supply of Guinness! !

    ssthomasIronMikeBogdanZJustSwimlakesprayFlowSwimmersgregoc
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    @Tracy_Clark your home country is exactly what I was thinking of when reading @ssthomas's post here. Sigh...

    BogdanZssthomasgregoc

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • BogdanZBogdanZ Bucharest, RomaniaMember

    @IronMike said:
    @Tracy_Clark your home country is exactly what I was thinking of when reading @ssthomas's post here. Sigh...

    EXACTLY!! One of the reasons I chose Rottnest. The alternative, in your country :), was a contact that was not too responsive. I reckon this contact is highly appreciated by many swimmers, that have beneficiated from the support and it is highly regarded, but I still had a bad to none communication.
    There are other swims, in some "number" challenges where you hardly get a spot in this lifetime.

    ssthomasFlowSwimmers
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    I had issues with Gibraltar as well, communications-wise. It took months to get confirmation on my request, despite contacting them over 2 years out. Then I got kicked out of Russia and forgot about it, till August 2018 (forget which week, but that was the agreed-upon month) and lo and behold, no emails from them. I wonder if I would have ever gotten to swim the Strait.

    FlowSwimmers

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • BogdanZBogdanZ Bucharest, RomaniaMember

    @IronMike said:
    I wonder if I would have ever gotten to swim the Strait.

    I had some conversation with them. Apparently they preffer arranging swimmers, by country, instead of single crossings. I still hope that one day, if I won't get my "pair" for the Strait, to be allowed for single crossing.
    Still, apparently for Gibraltar there are alternatives. There is an entity that is taking a month window from ACNEG and groups swimmers by their times, for group crossings. Unfortunatelly they ask for several live/onsite team trainings in some Spanish locations. Figure I would have to fligh several times (3 times at least) to Barcelona, to prove my times and allign my swim with the other potential colleagues. This is like a Rolls Royce of swimming.

    IronMike
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    edited February 7

    We could list all types of organizations that are failing (there are more than just the two referred to above). But my question is- What are we doing about? What can we do about it? If we don't hear from Philip Rush in the Cook Strait or can't find a translator to help with Gibraltar and sit on wait lists for 2+ years, wishing for the best, is it ok for us to just find our own boat, find our own observer, and go for it? Where is the tipping point to indicate that enough is enough and we can/should take matters into our own hands? If you're an American going overseas, it's really hard to find resources, especially in non-English speaking countries, to help you organize a swim without an existing group to help you. Do local swimmers have an obligation to help if they know their organization is failing? Or are we just stuck? Our sport is so decentralized around the world, there isn't a national or global organization that can step in and advocate for individual swimmers in the face of monopolies and price-gouging. Should that change?

    flystormsBogdanZIronMike
  • Maybe creating a second/competing sanctioning body is one course of action?

    It certainly wouldn't be easy.... as establishing the relationships and gathering the knowledge needed for successful swims would take time and effort. But, just as there are two sanctioning EC bodies.... why couldn't there conceivably be two sanctioning bodies for Cook (or, for any other venue where current response to inquiries is.......... less than stellar)?

    Granted, this would be a radical solution.... but, it's not like there's a monopoly on sanctioning swims...... is there? Is there a "one and none more" policy (or... one that can be enforced in some manner)?

    evmoIronMike
  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    Since the advent of the internet we now have Google reviews, Yelp reviews, Amazon reviews, The Glassdoor most of which allow an anonymous review. Maybe that's something we need in our world. Make it with a preset form so other swimmers can obtain information on; overall experience, communications, cost, ability to schedule etc. I've had mostly great experiences, but had one a few years ago where there safety plan fell apart quickly, a lack of organization and attention to detail.

    Sara_WolfevmoKate_Alexander
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited June 18

    Great topic!

    Sadly, some associations fall short. But I don't think the answer is anarchy, or dissolving all associations outside the English Channel. We should be seeking to improve associations, not kill them.

    Well-run associations provide a lot of value:

    • Offering local knowledge, permits, and support connections, to facilitate swim planning.
    • Providing trained, independent observers, to ensure swims are conducted safely and with consistent standards.
    • Maintaining an authoritative history of past swims.

    In building and maintaining the MSF results database, I love when an association has already done the legwork of compiling data for a swim. The MSF database wouldn't exist without the work of associations.

    What is our recourse when an existing association drops the ball, or is corrupted by conflicts of interest? Like we've recently seen in New York, perhaps a different group can step up to fill the void.

    Outside of the English Channel and (maybe?) Gibraltar, I'm not aware of any sanctioned marathon swim where the association has exclusive rights over the body of water. So generally, if you don't want to swim with the association, then don't! No one can stop you from doing your own thing.

    But if marathon swimming is a real sport and not just an extremely slow-moving stunt, then it deserves reliable records and rigorous standards, as provided by associations.

    ssthomasflystormsCopelj26Alex_Arevaloj9swimgregocrlmTracy_Clark
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    Thank you @ssthomas for your thoughtful discussion. I enjoy reading your thoughts and those of several other leaders on this thread.

    Last year, I had the good fortune of working several weeks with two board members of the CS&PF and the CSA (one from each). Our discussions were very interesting and insightful.

    Personally, it boils down to two questions:

    • What's important?
    • What can I afford?

    @Copelj26 has an interesting question as well: "...Do I need someone to validate me and my swim?"

    Copelj26evmoBridget
  • SydneDSydneD Senior Member

    Questions like this are part of the reason I am so much more interested in creating my own swims these days. For example, I have been trying to reach the folks from the Kalamata swim, in Greece, for two years, and I have never gotten an email back or any kind of correspondence. I'd love to do that swim, but, alas.

    If I can, instead, go and create my own swim in another body of water, at far less expense, I'm going to do that. There is so much water out there, and the "Biggies" - EC, etc., - have never really appealed to me anyway.

    Do I respect and honor the hard work of associations and what many of them bring to our sport? Absolutely! But my budget does not allow for unlimited swims, unless any of you would like to step up as a sugar mama or sugar papa. (Anyone??)
    As a result, I must figure out how to get the most out of the swim money I do have. (Strangely, my family does not seem to want to spend all of our disposable income on my swimming. Selfish beasts!)

    evmoCopelj26gregocssthomasBogdanZjendut
  • gregocgregoc Charter Member

    Awesome discussion. There is a minimum list of what a sanctioning body should offer: 1. specific information on the swim if it is an established swim. 2. Research on the course if it is a first attempt. 3. Permitting and coordinating with local authorities. 4. Information of qualified pilots. 5. Supply a qualified observer. 6. A clear set of rules (they can default to MSF). 7. Clear documentation of the attempt.

    The sanctioning body should never be the actual escort pilot. This creates a conflict of interests and can become a safety issue.

    Sanctioning bodies don’t own the waters. If an individual knows they can safely handle 1-7 above, then they should feel free to plan and attempt a swim on their own. Many swimmers I know don’t care about #7 (which I applaud), but they still need to cover 1-6.
    Sanctioning bodies should exist to help swimmers realize their dreams, not to get in the way of them. It also shouldn’t be the goal of a sanctioning body to make money (leave that to the pilots).

    evmoslknightCopelj26ssthomasIronMikeJaimieKate_AlexanderDanSimonelliJSwimSydneDand 1 other.
  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member

    no easy answers. i do think its important that RD and governing bodies only use those results for reviewing your resume for a swim that have been ratified by MSF or a governing body. we should not allow swims that are not properly observed and documented to be entered on the long swim database (ie your resume). I don't think its a huge burden financially to have an observor to document and ratify that rules were followed. on the other hand if you just want to swim and post on social media without an observor, that is certainlly fine. but i don't think a tracker is enough 'proof' to make it official.
    At the end of the day I personally choose to vote with my $$$. I'm older and have a limited time left to swim marathons. And while Gibralter for example really appeals to me, i would love to swim it and it is in the wheelhouse of swims i could possibly accomplish I'm not going to chase that one, its sounds like a nightmare of frustration, and Im guessing they'll be fine without my money. Im happy enough to give my dollars to organizations like NYOW or Kingdom to mention a few who are transparent and try to accomodate many swimmers ; those chasing crowns, slow or fast, young or old, or different countries.

    evmossthomas
  • gregocgregoc Charter Member

    A sanctioning body should be saving you the time and hassle of organizing a swim on your own. The organization should give you the peace of mind that everything is planned out accordingly. If you decide to swim as a bandit and things go wrong, you don’t just mess things up for yourself, but you run the risk of authorities blocking any future attempts as well.

    j9swimIronMike
  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COMember
    edited February 7

    @evmo, @emkhowley, etc. Has MSF ever considered creating a list of "recognized" sanctioning organizations?

    Theoretically this list might be composed of highly respected organizations which sanction marathon swims and are a good resource for swimmers. Alternatively, organizations which look to exploit swimmers for profit or hold unfair monopolies on certain bodies of water might be excluded.

    evmoJSwimWebstem67lakespray
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    Lake George is not a marathon swim neighborhood, beyond the Hague 10 K in August- most who have come here in recent years have come from far away and brought their own crews. I tried to scare up support crew from this group as well as USMS in my area, and got nowhere. I'm isolated. I was lucky to patch together a fabulous team of mainly retired people willing to give me a chance. And my son had an iPhone for the tracker, and someone loaned us several phone chargers.

    I'm planning another solo. Maybe I should consider documenting some of my training swims to create more routes in the lake, like Tahoe, to add some shorter distances to the lake and build interest? I'll be doing the swims anyway, right? Not everyone who paddles for me has tracker apps, and we don't always plan ahead. I get to a point of being ready for distances, and if I can leave my beach zone, it's a bonus- like the time someone give me and a paddler a ride to Hague, and left us there with a kayak and no way home to Ticonderoga except swimming and paddling. For now, I'm delighted to have a big swim in my backyard that I can attempt on my own terms- crew permitting- within the EC guidelines. Start when I want, pick a direction, inform local boaters and steamboats.

    If you have friends or family who are serious boaters and know the waters, why not? The wait lists for the big Association swims indicate that they have enough to keep them busy. And I don't know why an organization would object to MSF or any other group keeping a database of swims and documents, for use by other swimmers for future reference. Is it harder to add solo swims to the database that we submit individually? There is a fee to submit- does that cover it sufficiently?

    I like that my swim, and a few shorter swims, are in the database here at MSF- I like the group, and it's great to be in touch with people who like the kind of swimming I like.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited June 18

    @Karl_Kingery said: Has MSF ever considered creating a list of "recognized" sanctioning organizations?

    We've had a couple requests over the years to "ratify" Catalina Channel swims from swimmers who didn't want to work with CCSF. That was an easy answer - No - but notice how the implicit statement is "We recognize CCSF as the official association for Catalina Channel swims, and will not recognize swims that go outside it."

    We've also ratified swims where an existing association is failing. Craig Lenning's and Joe Locke's Farallon swims come to mind. But I happened to be the observer on those swims and could personally ensure the documentation was high quality. And frankly the (failing) association didn't seem to care much anyway.

    Other cases are less clear-cut.

    If such a list were compiled and published, it would undoubtedly generate some controversy. So in order to be defensible, it would need to be based on an underlying set of "requirements" for legitimate sanction associations, that had significant buy-in from the community.

    gregocKarl_KingeryCopelj26rlmssthomasDanSimonelliJSwim
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember
    edited February 8

    @j9swim said:
    no easy answers. i do think its important that RD and governing bodies only use those results for reviewing your resume for a swim that have been ratified by MSF or a governing body. we should not allow swims that are not properly observed and documented to be entered on the long swim database (ie your resume). I don't think its a huge burden financially to have an observor to document and ratify that rules were followed. on the other hand if you just want to swim and post on social media without an observor, that is certainlly fine. but i don't think a tracker is enough 'proof' to make it official.

    I had to find people willing to observe, paddle, and pilot my solo. I also had to train everyone on multiple sessions- MSF rules, how to change shifts as paddlers, the log, visual record. I don't know what people do- fly in observers? Pay airfare, lodging, food, and a fee? I did fly my son up for training and the swim, but was lucky that everyone else just came along on the adventure. Huge gift. And my documentation was submitted to MSF for peer review, essentially. And as for the tracker, I agree that it isn't sufficient "proof'- but it is required, and a big challenge for me. As you said- no easy answers. But well worth the effort, eh? :)

    @evmo said: We've had a couple requests over the years to "ratify" Catalina Channel swims from swimmers who didn't want to work with CCSF. That was an easy answer - No - but notice how the implicit statement is "We recognize CCSF as the official association for Catalina Channel swims, and will not recognize swims that go outside it."

    My question here is, why did someone not want to work with CCSF? Scheduling? Cost? Would any mitigating circumstances be considered? And I'm not trying to be argumentative- As @gregoc mentioned, a governing body has a wealth of information and expertise to encourage success- I got in touch about the Boston Light, when I was worried about my speed being a problem- my thought was to try a night swim- because in MY area, that is a good strategy- I started at night to avoid the tourist traffic of the south end of Lake George. I had no idea what the traffic was like in Boston Harbor at night. Learning about the current/tide schedule made all the difference for me in Boston- with a time limit, it wouldn't have been worth trying otherwise. [thanks again- I'm SO glad I had that chance]

    j9swim
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    why did someone not want to work with CCSF? Scheduling? Cost?

    In one case it had to do with wanting to set a record on a specific date, and not getting the application in on time to swim on that date. In another case they didn't want to follow CCSF's (very standard) swim rules.

    So, all the worst reasons.

    Bridget
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    There's a lot here, so I hope I didn't miss anything. I like the idea of locals stepping up to fill a gap. My only issue, and perhaps this has no basis in reality (I hope), but I get the feeling that if these locals went to their area's water authorities, USCG, police, etc, for the purposes of permits (#3 in @gregoc's list above), then these authorities would have one question: Are you with XYZ organization? No? Well then we can't help you.

    But I hope I'm wrong.

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member

    all right i have a real example that i've been pondering and am interested in feedback from the group. I attempted a swim with a governing body and was pulled before completion. I was still making foward progress, i was within 100 yards or so of another swimmer, the swim had no published cutoff times by landmarks, we were no where near the published cutoff for completion, and the RD had no previous experience witth me and therefor did not know that i typically negatively split marathons ...i'm a long warm up. i was told to get out as they didn't 'think' i would finish before the tide turned. I'll be damned if I ever give this RD another dime of mine, as far as I'm concerned they didn't adhere to the rules. That being said I'd like to do the swim and am pondering doing a reverse course with an observor and tracker. I respect y'all and would love to hear from RDs and other accomplished swimmers.....is this cool or not? would you ratify this?

    IronMikeCopelj26rosemarymint
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    @j9swim said:
    .....is this cool or not? would you ratify this?

    I pretty much trust 99% of you guys here, so if you told me "I swam X according to MSF rules," I'd believe you. Unsure if that is what you mean by ratify.

    BogdanZCopelj26FlowSwimmersBridget

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • brunobruno Barcelona (Spain)Member

    I'm all against any kind of monopoly in public areas, i.e. the sea.

    If I follow all Administration safety rules in force (permits, a safety plan, not swimming at night..., whatever Authorities may ask), they should let me swim. Only #3 in @gregoc 's list is compulsory. And if I want the swim ratified, and I follow all MSF rules, I don't think it's fair that MSF won't ratify the swim - as they consider I'm banditing the swim (I hate this expression) because I'm not hiring the services of the local ratifying body.

    Of course in areas with heavy shipping traffic (like Gibraltar and English Channel) Administrations need some control to avoid accidents with ships. But even though, they should let some slots open for the general public - e.g. 40% for CS&PF, 40% for CSA and 20% for general public.

    An international association coordinating ratifying bodies would seem a good idea, but I'm afraid that eventually it would become a sort of FINA for marathon swims. And one thing I like about open water swimming is that, in general, FINA is not messing around.

    FlowSwimmers
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember
    edited February 10

    @evmo : What is the MSF's rationale behind this: "We recognize CCSF as the official association for Catalina Channel swims, and will not recognize swims that go outside it."

    On a separate note, the CS&PF was a spin-off of disgruntled members of the CSA. While the CS&PF recognizes swims under the CSA, the CSA DOES NOT reciprocate. Their "English Channel Rules" are similar but not identical.

    The boat pilots of both organizations form a cartel with price fixing and restricted competition.

    I agree with @bruno regarding the "bandit" term and admire the people who are able to arrange things for themselves without the assistance of a governing body.

    @j9swim : As you describe it, it was unfortunate that you were pulled from the race. If there were published cut-off times and landmarks, I would have a different opinion, but in your case, it seemed arbitrary and not fair. If the RD was going to pull swimmers, the criteria should have been clear (in advance).

    I know several people who have swum one-offs that duplicate an actual event. I think you should go for it and take all the time you want...enjoy the swim!

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 11

    @FlowSwimmers asked:
    What is the MSF's rationale behind this: "We recognize CCSF as the official association for Catalina Channel swims, and will not recognize swims that go outside it."

    In general, I think highly active/popular marathon swims benefit from well-run local associations - providing independent observers, ensuring swims are conducted safely, standardizing rules/conduct, acting as a liaison with pilots and support personnel, and maintaining rigorous records.

    (Side note, I think no association is better than a poorly run or corrupt association.)

    MSF can't replicate the value an association brings to a swim. e.g., we have no infrastructure for providing independent observers. Why would we want to try to verify Catalina swims (~80 per year), when a local group is already doing it perfectly well, indeed much better than MSF or any external group could. It makes no sense.

    It's not within the scope of our mission to compete with or undermine well-run local associations.


    @bruno said: they should let some slots open for the general public - e.g. 40% for CS&PF, 40% for CSA and 20% for general public.

    Would you then expect the 20% "general public" slots to be officially recognized as English Channel swims? Who would recognize them?

    KatieBungregocthelittlemerwookierlmDanSimonelli
  • brunobruno Barcelona (Spain)Member

    @evmo : Some of the "general public" perhaps wouldn't want to be ratified. Those who wanted, if they followed MSf rules, should see their swim ratified, same as if they had swum a water body without local association. Perhaps it would take 2 years for MSF to peruse the documentation before approval, perhaps even MSF would have the right to get a fee for that job, as would good, independent observers.

    I think too that a well-run organization is very valuable, and probably I would use it. But before taking a decision, I'd like to have the chance to check if it's worth the effort to arrange things by myself.

    evmo
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 10

    @bruno, to me, the "association-provided independent observer" model of ratifying swims, all else being equal, is more rigorous than the model of "I'll get my friend/mom to observe, find my own boat pilot, and submit documentation to MSF."

    And in turn, the MSF Documented Swims model is superior to "just take my word for it, squeaky clean, wink wink."

    As the most iconic and most active solo marathon swim in the world, I would think if any swim should be subject to the highest standard, it should be the Channel.

    There are SO many possible swims out there in the world, many never done. We're only talking about a very small handful, that are active enough to justify and sustain an association.

    gregocthelittlemerwookierlmDanSimonelliKarl_Kingery
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    edited February 10

    @bruno said: they should let some slots open for the general public - e.g. 40% for CS&PF, 40% for CSA and 20% for general public.

    It’s already the case there.
    Certain EC boat Captains run a side business taking “unsanctioned” (e.g. wetsuit) swims across.

    thelittlemerwookieJSwim
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    @evmo : I think you misunderstood my question related to why the MSF only recognizes CCSF swims for Catalina Channel swims. I am not at all suggesting the the MSF compete with the CCSF but rather hoping to understand the rationale behind why the MSF would not recognize swims that "go outside of it?"

    Also, what is your opinion about the CSA vs. CS&PF where the CSA does not recognize CS&PF swims?

    @DanSimonelli and @bruno : Certain EC boat captains also run a side business of taking extra cash to improve a swimmer's position.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 10

    @FlowSwimmers: I understood your question, and I think I answered it. To recognize unsanctioned swims in waters already served by a local association, is to effectively compete with that association.

    what is your opinion about the CSA vs. CS&PF where the CSA does not recognize CS&PF swims?

    Doesn't really matter. The community recognizes both.

    KatieBungregocdavid_barraDanSimonelli
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember
    edited February 10

    @ssthomas : It seems as your statement is spot on:

    "Right now, the status quo seems to be that you just suck it up, keep your mouth shut, follow weird rules, suffer through lack of communication, and hope that you make it. I’m just not sure that’s going to cut it anymore. Why should one group/organization/person essentially “own” a body of water, and for our community to vilify swimmers who find alternatives when they don’t want to pay huge fees for a swim when they can logically and safely complete a swim without hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in extra fees?"

    Tracy_Clark
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 10

    @FlowSwimmers, I believe @ssthomas also said:

    Some organizations, such as the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation, the CSA and the CS&PF, really do offer a great service to swimmers. For example, you can’t swim the English Channel without the CSA or CS&PF and I wouldn’t suggest doing a Catalina swim without the CCSF.

    You asked about CCSF, and I responded about CCSF. I don't think all current associations necessarily deserve the respect the CCSF has earned over their near-40 years of work.

    gregocdavid_barraDanSimonelli
  • FlowSwimmersFlowSwimmers Polson, MontanaMember

    @evmo : Do you have some type of financial interest in the CCSF or in some way associated with them?

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 10

    Do you have some type of financial interest in the CCSF or in some way associated with them?

    @FlowSwimmers, thanks for your thoughtful question. None whatsoever, and no affiliation other than swimming Catalina solo in 2011.

    DanSimonelliCopelj26Karl_KingeryBridget
  • brunobruno Barcelona (Spain)Member

    @evmo said:
    To recognize unsanctioned swims in waters already served by a local association, is to effectively compete with that association.

    Probably this is the only point in which we disagree. I think that any swimmer (whatever reason he/she may have not to use the services of an association) providing good documentation, credible observers, etc. (as any other swim in the LongSwim DB), should have the right to have the swim perused and ratified.

    Perhaps some competition would wake up "deficient" associations. In any case, excellent associations such as Catalina, CSA, CS&PF, NYOW shouldn't fear competition, because most of the swimmers would use their services. And it's OK if MSF encourages the use of those associations. But I don't see this as incompatible with ratifying unsanctioned swims.

    evmoFlowSwimmers
  • KatieBunKatieBun CornwallSenior Member
    edited February 10

    @bruno said:

    @evmo said:
    To recognize unsanctioned swims in waters already served by a local association, is to effectively compete with that association.

    Probably this is the only point in which we disagree. I think that any swimmer (whatever reason he/she may have not to use the services of an association) providing good documentation, credible observers, etc. (as any other swim in the LongSwim DB), should have the right to have the swim perused and ratified.

    Interesting thoughts. I get your point, @bruno , but out of great respect for those particular organisations, (I've swum with 3 of them and observed for CSA and CS&PF), their efficiency, their local knowledge, their past record and their volunteers, I would never choose to circumvent them. To me, it would feel like throwing cold water over them and all their work

    evmoJSwimgregocdavid_barrarlmDanSimonelliKarl_Kingery
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    All of this discussion/back-and-forth about good organizations and ratifying swims not done through them is all well and good, but what about one of the most pressing questions: What about those swimmers waiting sometimes years for answers to emails for one or two of the Oceans Seven? None of us are getting any younger. How long do the likes of @ssthomas have to wait before she just finds her own support and observer to swim?

    Copelj26ssthomasDanSimonelliBridget

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member

    @IronMike said:
    All of this discussion/back-and-forth about good organizations and ratifying swims not done through them is all well and good, but what about one of the most pressing questions: What about those swimmers waiting sometimes years for answers to emails for one or two of the Oceans Seven? None of us are getting any younger. How long do the likes of @ssthomas have to wait before she just finds her own support and observer to swim?

    Fortunately, the Ocean's 7 Challenge isn't on my list- there are a few swims on there that simply don't interest me. I would love to swim Tsugaru, but that is also an organization that is failing swimmers. So, until that area of the world gets sorted out, I'll just be waiting on that swim as I don't have the knowledge/resources to plan that one one my own. I have a Cook Strait swim coming up next month- been on the wait list since 2015... I'm working with them there, but trust me- it's been tempting several times to get my husband into a kayak and just go for it on my own. ;-)

    Copelj26DanSimonellievmoIronMikelakesprayBridget
  • miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongMem​ber
    edited February 11

    @ssthomas said: I would love to swim Tsugaru, but that is also an organization that is failing swimmers. So, until that area of the world gets sorted out, I'll just be waiting on that swim as I don't have the knowledge/resources to plan that one one my own.

    What's the problem with Tsugaru? I'm thinking if it may be my starting point of channel swimming, in addition to Qiongzhou Strait due to geographical location. These two channels are probably the easiest for me to go from where I live, with established organisation.

    Also, it seems terrifying if a wait list is longer than 2 years because it isn't humanly possible for me to plan for so long period! I normally plan for only 1 year for my life. I would rather find organised marathon swimming races to join instead of waiting for years for a channel swim.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 12

    In the following anecdote I mean zero disrespect to the swimmer, who is raising money for a fine cause, and who I doubt intended to mislead anyone.

    I offer it as an example of how easily things can get confused in the absence of ratifying associations.

    I recently saw a story about a young swimmer in New Zealand who was planning an attempt of the Foveaux Strait, one of the more challenging swims (mile for mile) in the world, and one of my dream swims (someday, somehow!).

    She would be swimming unassisted, according to the news article:

    [her] research showed the sea temperature should be 13 to 15 degrees, which is good because she won't be wearing a wetsuit.
    "It changes your stroke and puts pressure on your shoulders," [she] said of the wetsuit.
    Her body will be coated in a thick mixture of wool fat, vaseline and zinc before she puts on a swim suit.

    Awesome! So, I shared the article, the tracker, and the social media feed on the MSF FB page, shortly after the swim started.

    A few minutes later an eagle-eyed reader pointed me to this, from her social media feed:

    And then this:

    And this:

    So... a slightly different event than it seemed initially! And that's OK. But without the (unintentional?) documentation may easily have been confused for something it wasn't.

    The Foveaux Strait list remains at 8 swimmers.
    (There is currently no ratifying association for this swim).

    https://db.marathonswimmers.org/events/foveaux-strait/

    KatieBunBogdanZdavid_barraIronMikerlmDanSimonellislknightgregocjendutSwimmersuzand 3 others.
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member

    Yep

    j9swim
  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member

    i think another point in this discussion is the possibility when someone swims without the existing ratifying organization and there is an issue it puts the future of that swim in jeopardy. the coast guard, police, whatever the local water enforcement may be has to rescue or admonish the attempt for not following the rules of the water (and swimmers do not have the right of way in shipping channels) its possible that future swimmers even with the sanctioning body will be turned down for permits. one persons' ego or impatience with a swim can jeopordize other peoples dreams.

    KatieBunKarl_KingeryevmoDanSimonelliBogdanZdavid_barraChloe
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 13

    @j9swim said: ...when someone swims without the existing ratifying organization and there is an issue it puts the future of that swim in jeopardy.

    Great point @j9swim. Some swims are not infinitely "scalable" due to heavy boat traffic, relationships with regulatory agencies, etc. They are essentially a limited resource, subject to the tragedy of the commons. The English Channel and Manhattan swims immediately come to mind, probably Gibraltar too.

    DanSimonelli
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    edited February 13

    I agree, @j9swim and @evmo

    This reality (swims not being “infinitely scalable”; potential for ‘ruining’ it for others) tempers my more individualistic, libertarian thinking about open water somehow being my personal playground anywhere anytime, especially with an endurance event.

    Obviously there are mitigating circumstances in the case of a “governing” body being delinquent in their self-prescribed duties and service to swimmers wanting to swim in “their” waterway.
    So, there’s no clear-cut answer to this.

    But I do think that in such situational dilemmas that swimmers should be cognizant of and strongly consider the potential repercussions and consequences of choosing to embark on a swim outside the auspices of a local sanctioning organization.

    My opinion and admonition leans toward suggesting to such swimmer, there is a myriad of “open” swims to plan for and attempt in our vast watery world.
    So, getting caught up in having to do a common, popular swim is rather myopic.
    Go swim a strange body of water. Pioneer a new swim.
    Venture out.
    The waterway less traveled...

    evmoj9swimslknightKatieBungregocssthomasSydneDjendutrlmKarl_Kingeryand 5 others.
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    @evmo said:
    To recognize unsanctioned swims in waters already served by a local association, is to effectively compete with that association.

    @bruno said:
    Probably this is the only point in which we disagree. I think that any swimmer (whatever reason he/she may have not to use the services of an association) providing good documentation, credible observers, etc. (as any other swim in the LongSwim DB), should have the right to have the swim perused and ratified.

    @KatieBun said:

    Interesting thoughts. I get your point, @bruno , but out of great respect for those particular organisations, (I've swum with 3 of them and observed for CSA and CS&PF), their efficiency, their local knowledge, their past record and their volunteers, I would never choose to circumvent them. To me, it would feel like throwing cold water over them and all their work

    OK, I took the liberty of shuffling "speakers" to line up with their quotes- I hope I was accurate, and know that any errors are MINE. ;)

    Now, my comments- I am not in a position to compete with anyone, no swimmer, no organization. I'm slow, from what I have read in this group over the past few years, I am not even close to being a typical marathon swimmer. I have no team- I train solo. Before I started training for Lake George, there was an organized event here, which was great. I was happy to have people enjoying "my" lake, but I could NEVER have participated. Ever. I would never have finished in the time limit, and the idea of knowing I could finish- no tide issues here- but not be allowed to? No way. I had to do a solo. I had to do it with my own support crew. We learned together. I certainly had no expectation that anyone from MSF was going to travel to observe my swim- but my crew was ethical and meticulous. I don't know how so many of you manage to do so many far-ranging swims. Pretty amazing.

    I have a few "organized" swims on my wish list- and I will keep applying, but many won't work for me as planned. If I were trying to do a swim on my own, any wisdom anyone wants to share is totally welcome. It takes nothing away from an established organization. In my experience, an organization would be a luxury- but it worked well for me to have a novice crew who didn't have other marathon swimmers to compare me to. ;) I think Lake George will keep me pretty busy for a while. Once the ice melts. . .

    It seems that if there are multi-year wait lists and organizers too overwhelmed to return email, if anyone is able to find a qualified pilot and work with local authorities, that should suffice. For me, MSF is all about the network of swimmers, and it has been a much appreciated resource over the past few years. Thank you.

    DanSimonelliIronMikeFlowSwimmers
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