Non- MSF documented marathon swim plan

dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

Hello all,

So my coach and I are planning a 15-ish mile swim (changed route from original). We haven't had success in finding an observer, and we're planning for Monday, so although I plan to wear only a basic swimsuit, cap, and goggles,

So although we haven't an official observer, we plan to document it as best we can. I don't necessarily need the official recognition; it's more a personal goal--to swim a double-digit distance. It's a challenge and involves something I love doing in any case. If we don't get an observer, it'll still be an amazing adventure, and in the future, I hope to do some more marathon swims, officially listed, whenever possible.

But here's my question. What's your experience with doing non-MSF documented swims, just for the adventure (again, with doing all possible to follow MSF rules--I think if I should later want to do a documented swim, I want to know I can do so)? Is it an oddity or do people regularly do swims not for documentation? My body will know I've done it--my coach who will also be my crew plans to keep a record of my distance and whatever details will show what I've done.

I see it as an experience, a challenge, and a joy--whether it's documented or not. However, I do wonder how people generally approach such swims.

PS Will let you folks know about the route once I get the updated map. I'm just praying for kind weather (I know, wimpy of me, but I'm working my way into more experience with marathon swimming.)


  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    edited August 2

    PS One departure from MSF rules--he'd like me to wear a tow float for visibility. I'm willing to do that for a variety of reasons, the visibility being huge. I've used mine sometimes during open water swims where there's boat traffic, and while I like the freedom of being without one, I can understand my coach's reasoning and respect it.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 3

    @dpm50 said: What's your experience with doing non-MSF documented swims, just for the adventure... Is it an oddity or do people regularly do swims not for documentation?

    People do undocumented swims, training swims, adventure swims, swims for fun, etc. all the time, and that's great. MSF offers a service to publish and review documentation of independent (self-organized) swims that people wish to have recognized alongside association-sanctioned solo swims and race-type events.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Thanks! I want to be as above board as possible, of course, while not missing a chance to extend my distance and work within marathon swimming rules.

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    I haven't done a documented swim yet. My Issyk Kul attempt and then success, both of them I had an observer, but due to crew issues and communication issues, he did most of my feedings too as well as rode the kayak on both ends. He filled out the MSF paperwork, but I used that primarily because it is so well formatted it just makes sense to use it instead of inventing something else. But really I don't think I could have got it documented. As I got close to the end, he went to the back of the boat (while I was swimming out front, see picture below) and got in the kayak, so there is lost time of his eyeballs on me.

    There is a difference between swimming an event according to MSF rules and swimming an event for documentation. (How would that Venn diagram look?) Both have MSF rules in common. Documentation just has more steps.


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

  • rlmrlm Member

    & confirms the swim based on the acknowledged standards for marathon swimming!!!

  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    I'm struggling to get my Rhode Island swim off the ground, and should probably just go for it without trying to get it ratified, because I'm just having a rotten time with the logistics of the boat, tracking device, and number of people needed. I want to do the swim, but can understand why it may not be the most fun to sit on a boat for (I don't groove on boats). Given the barely off shore route I want to use, I might have better luck getting a bunch of kayakers to paddle the coast as a relay, with me as a figurative baton. Maybe three teams of kayakers, each going six miles, so one could have a possible tracker and clipboard for the swim log, and one to have food and a cell phone in case we needed backup- when not just off shore at a public or state beach. ;)

    I've been thinking a lot about ways to do more "green" swims. As long as there is a "chain of custody" of the swim log, and a careful rotation to ensure constant observation of the swim, why not? My main reason for trying to get my swim ratified would be to perhaps bring attention to a course and area I think has been overlooked.

    So, dpm50, if you are happy with your swim, bon voyage. :smiley: When I did a two swimmer relay last summer, my co-swimmer wanted to wear a wetsuit, and I didn't. Clearly not a ratified swim, but we had fun and raised a massive bucket of donations for Polio. ;) I used it as a training swim for BLS.

    I can't wait to hear about your adventure!

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