The Cost of an Escort

david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
edited September 2012 in General Discussion
I would like some feedback. Originally, I thought a poll would be a good idea, but I prefer a bit of back and forth conversation. I would like to hear opinions about the cost of marathon swimming... specifically event/ escort fees. If I may, I'd like to guide the discussion with a couple of questions:

ESCORT FEES - too high? too low? just right? what should be included that isn't? what would make it a better value?

EVENT FEES - I would be willing to pay a bit more for ___________________ (safety personnel? carbon neutral? great swag? etc)

I am particularly curious about how folks view the idea of carbon credits. Its a bit tricky to try and quantify the carbon footprint of a marathon swim, but its something I think is worth considering. I sleep better knowing that my shop is 100% solar since March 1, 2011... and the system generates electricity superfluous to our needs. A simple program keeps track of and quantifies the surplus in "trees planted" or "miles not driven".

What say you marathon swimmer forumites?



...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

Comments

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    ESCORT FEES - too high? too low? just right? what should be included that isn't? what would make it a better value?
    I'll be annoying and answer your question with a question.

    What is the cost to a boat owner/captain (gas + wear & tear) of escorting a swimmer? Variables include swimmer speed, swim distance, boat size & design & amenities, cost of fuel, and undoubtedly a few others.

    Once we know the overhead, we can calculate what the swimmer is paying for the skipper's time and skill, which is easier to judge for "value."

    (Great discussion topic, btw, thanks DB).
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
    Not much experience on my end, but after paying $50 for last weekend's extravaganza, and reading the above, I think I'll move to the Netherlands.

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

  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    Although I would be interested to hear about the overhead, I don't think this comes down to "actual" cost. We are paying for the expertise of a pilot who knows the water in which we are swimming, and are paying for the "best" chance at crossing the body of water - making sure our months of training isn't going by the waist side. Obviously, the fuel, wear and tear and crew time are not equal to what we pay, however I am fine with the high cost as long as I am being treated as professionally as possible, and given the best chance I can have to accomplish my goal!

    The piloting cost for the Tsugaru Channel was north of $5,500. I couldn't help but chuckle for a second, as I like to say I got my moneys' worth since we were expecting an 8-hour journey, and it ended up being 15h 55m!

    www.darren-miller.com
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • AquaRobAquaRob Humboldt Bay, CACharter Member
    wow... apparently in order to complete the Oceans Seven financially you need to have costarred in Oceans Eleven
    malinaka
  • TheoTheo Oxnard, CAMember
    Well I would be willing to pay a bit more of an event fee for a smaller field. I am probably one of the few but I really hate the melee you have to encounter at the starts. I seek out the smaller events and would pay more to keep them that way.

    I would also be willing to pay more if the shirts and other clothing offered came in larger sizes. Without a tall option my daughter winds up with another nightshirt.

    I would be willing to pay more for point to point swims. I enjoy them much more that swimming laps in the open ocean.

    I would pay more for an event that offered some free entries to those in need.

    I would pay more for events that used some proceeds to aid marathon swimming e.g. donations to Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, Catalina Channel Swimming Association, etc.

    Just my quick random thoughts.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    I would really like to pay less but don't ever expect this to happen because we want to swim, and supply/demand etc.

    The big swims are horrendously expensive, I estimated my EC cost €7000 over a year in 2010, and I wasn't travelling very far. Someone from the US might spent $10000/12000 over a year now. Though these costs include all the related items like eating three times my weight in food every week, more driving up and down to the sea, flights, accommodation etc.

    A 5k swim in Ireland this year could easily cost €50. I stopped doing my local 3k swim three years ago, when the cost continued to be €250 fundraising every year. How many times can you ask the same people to donate for a 3k swim when they know that's a short swim for you?

    I hate that you pay £2000 to the CS&PF and don't even get a free swimcap and I'm a CS&PF swimmer. Not that a free swimcap would solve it 'cause the CSA give you one, and I haven't seen anyone jumping up and down with joy over that.

    I hate that race or swim organisers include non-negotiable charitable donations in their swim entry costs, like it doesn't happen on any other swim, when if fact it happens on many swims, and make us feel crap when we question it. And I hate it more when the charitable donation is 2/3rds of the entry cost.

    To me, the ideal is Rottnest, where the cost is about AUS$300? for which you reportedly get awesome organisation, a great big bag of swag and a great swim. A world class swim you don't have to consider re-mortgaging the house for (unless you don't live in Australia of course).

    I HATE that you pay a lot of money to a pilot and have no subsequent input into their performance, no ability to review them without potential collateral damage to friends or fellow nationalities who might be booking with them, no interest from the organisation in it, who don't solicit this information. Because anyone who thinks all pilots are equally great are deluding themselves. And please don't think I'm basing this on one experience. Anyone who knows enough Channel swimmers can tell many stories of all shades and because of the blog, I maybe hear more. In fact I'm nervous that just by writing this it will come back to bite me or worse yet, friends who will consider swims in the future. And, let me say for the record, some pilots are bloody fantastic, and I've met them and respect them enormously and a night in a pub with any of those would one of the most enjoyable things I can imagine.

    I HATE that the absolute cardinal unspoken rule overshadowing everything, which few people are willing to talk about for the reason above, including me, is that no-one can question pilots and Associations treat pilots like gods. I hate that to a small few pilots we are just stupid swimming meat when they make a living from us.

    I HATE that some swimmers will find all this out the hard way, because they don't have a network of contacts to advise them. I hate that swimmers should need a network for this stuff.

    loneswimmer.com

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    I hate that race or swim organisers include non-negotiable charitable donations in their swim entry costs, like it doesn't happen on any other swim, when if fact it happens on many swims, and make us feel crap when we question it. And I hate it more when the charitable donation is 2/3rds of the entry cost.

    I have mixed feelings about the whole charity thing.
    It is easier to ask people to volunteer to support an event if it is a fund raiser. One NY based marathon swim relies on volunteer pilots and gets them to come out and work the event year after year. The donation requirements (fees) are in line with other marathon swims in the region.

    I prefer to pay the folks that come to help us and provide their own equipment and time. I know that no one is getting rich off the rates we pay, but it is enough to negate the hardship of the long days. Some people have complained that the fees we charge are too high. I would love to provide more frills... GPS tracking for all the swimmers, catered meals, exceptional swag, post-swim body work, etc. but need to balance costs.

    ..... its an expensive sport, but still cheaper than offspring!

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • SuirThingSuirThing Carrick-on-Suir, IrelandMember
    edited September 2012
    There is no doubt that the charitable aspect of swims is what allows organisers to recruit enough volunteers to safely stage many swims that take place, and that this is very necessary.

    Most swims in Ireland have an entry fee that may include a donation to the charity and in most cases there is the option to raise further cash for the charity on a sponsorship basis. The difficulty with this is that charity in Ireland is very much local. I have taken part in, for example, at least three swims this year in aid of Cork Lions club. Now I have no issue with a portion of my entry fee going to a worthwhile charity like Cork Lions club, but it would be most difficult for me to raise additional funds given that if I ask friends or family for sponsorship, their response is obviously going to be that they would prefer to donate to Carrick-on-Suir Lions club.

    Similarly, here in Carrick our local swim is in aid of the local Hospice, (which provides home care support to cancer patients & their families). As our family has had the misfortune to have had reason to make use of the service, I would raise a figure considerably higher than the entry fee for this swim, but a swimmer travelling from Cork would most likely just pay the entry fee and leave it at that because they may already be contributing to Cork Hospice.

    The recession in Ireland has seen people left with more time on their hands and many have chosen to fill this time with endurance sport such as swimming, running and cycling. It has also seen charities come under financial pressure due to the drop in peoples discretionary spending. These circumstances have created "perfect storm" conditions which saw an explosion of charity swims/cycles/runs over the past couple of years. Last Saturday I took part in the Sandycove Island swim challenge which would be one of Ireland's biggest, but I know of FOUR charity cycles that took place within 100 miles of each other that same weekend (I sponsored my brother to do one of them and a friend to do another).

    There is a catch-22 element to it, in that many of the swims would maybe not take place at all if they weren't fundraisers, and we all want swims to go to. To be fair, at each swim I have taken part in (except maybe one) the swimmers contribution was genuinely appreciated, and I have been happy to contribute (except maybe for that one swim). Call me petty, but it is the €2 that active.com help themselves to is the bit that bothers me the most ~X(

    I tried to convince myself, but, orange flavour electrolyte, mixed with hot chocolate,
    tastes nothing like Terry's Chocolate Orange ....

  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    In Arizona, it's usually pretty easy to get volunteers for an event. I've seen a few different models;
    -The event organizer asks for volunteer captains and makes a donation to a charity of that captain's choice. There may be several different charities represented for a large event. The volunteer captain is responsible for finding volunteers.
    -People volunteer because they have a friend in the event and they're planning on being there to support their friend anyway.
    -People volunteer as part of their preparation for doing the event next themselves next year.
    -The event is a big deal for the community, and people just want to be a part of it. Volunteers usually get a goodie bag for this type of event.
    -In exchange for volunteering at one event, the volunteer gets a free entry to the next one. Or, in the case of Ironman, a chance to be first in line for registration.
    -Sometimes an event company will have a small staff that manages everything. In this case, they don't use volunteers. IMO, volunteer staff make for a nicer event.

    I haven't seen many events where athletes are required to raise money or make a donation to a charity.

    The swag bag does nothing for me. I've gotten some cool t-shirts, but never one that fit me properly.

  • I swam about a dozen different events this summer with entry fees ranging from about $25-$150 and what I can say is that in that range the entry fee hardly matters at all. The cheapest swim, for me, was the 2 bridges swim in the Hudson, because I didn't need a hotel room or meals out.

    I love the swag bags but I have a comically large number of T-shirts. So that is not a deciding factor.
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    I'd definitely welcome a carbon offset option, and could easily live without a goody bag (especially T-shirts. Pet hate alert: "unisex" T-shirts aren't unisex, they're for men, and they don't fit a lot of women...). I have got a bit of a soft spot, though, for a nice certificate, badge or medal - I'm obviously needier for recognition than is healthy!

    For shorter mass participation events, the cheaper the better, but I generally don't do many of these because I don't like a scrum and also, I try not to spend longer in the car driving to an event than I do swimming, which rules out most. But for the big solo swims, I'm much more prepared to pay - for good safety cover, and most importantly, for a boat crew that's prepared to be in for the long haul if necessary. I also like having an option to be able to pay for a kayaker if one-to-one cover is necessary. Especially if you're coming from overseas, or have a long way to travel, it can be really difficult / expensive to either bring your own, or find someone local to help out.

    I can see that the charity thing helps to draw in volunteers, and it's a good way to draw in participants who might be new to the sport. But it tends to put me off because it pushes up the cost, I prefer to keep my charity and my sport separate, and in a few cases, I have purposefully decided not to do an event that I quite fancied because I didn't support the particular charity that had been chosen.

    Just a few thoughts...great discussion topic.
    K
  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaCharter Member
    edited September 2012
    I considered this question myself and I came to conclusion that if the swim is interesting enough, or provides the "competition" or "status" that the swimmer is looking for, the fee is secondary to the experience. I started by considering what swimmers pay to swim open water distances in a variety of places around the country.

    Here is a sample of a few swims that I'm familiar with:
    Kingdom Swim (Vermont 10 miles) - adults $150, Students $75, Youth $35 and under.
    La Jolla Roughwater (Calif 3 miles) - adults $75 - $120,
    6 person relay from island off California (57 miles) - $500 / swimmer.
    Seal Beach Roughwater (Calif 5k) - $25.
    Around the Rock (Alcatraz, San Fran 3.25 miles) - $200 - $250.
    Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (NY 28.5 miles) -- $1885.
    Swim the Suck (Tennessee 10 miles) - $250,
    Big Shoulders (Chicago 5k) - $60 - $80.
    Swim Around Charleston (South Carolina 12 miles) - $200
    Portland Bridge Swim (Oregon 11 miles) - $130

    From this sample I came up with a couple of guidelines: If the open water swim isn't that far (less than 10K) and is basically a loop (MIMS is the exception), the cost is typically below the $100 level. As the swims become longer, are from point to point, or have a distinguishing feature (bridges, retired prison islands, a meandering river, historical dams) the entry fee increases as does the support to make the swim safe (motor boats in order to potentially save swimmers AND kayakers).

    I lump the escort fee and event fee together unless your talking about channel swims where you hire a pilot then pay a fee to an organization. I think a fee in the range of $150 - $200 for a long day of swimming in an interesting location is certainly fair from the swimmers perspective given the swimming opportunities in the US.

    I like swag and I believe swims need to put something in the hands of a swimmer (cap, shirt, beer) so they leave with something - regardless of what it is or whether it fits - it's the act of giving that is appreciated. Tie in a charity that would benefit from the swim and it's a feel good thing. No need to make the donation mandatory or even discuss the breakdown - but I've considered making an event entry fee entirely payable to a 501(c)(3). I don't see a downside to the charity angle. We drive big trucks and SUVs in Arizona Dave so I can't comment on the carbon footprint angle - although I like the idea.

    Perhaps I should contemplate moving to the Netherlands where swims don't exceed the cost of a submarine sandwich.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    edited September 2012
    Big Shoulders is an appalling ripoff. I hope they give something to charity to make it worthwhile!
  • LynnkubLynnkub Charter Mem​ber
    I would like to add La Jolla Rough Water Swim to the "Appalling Ripoff Group". The organization management is also really lacking in customer service.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    I guess Big Shoulders is a tad expensive ($60) for what it is, but it directly benefits the men's & women's swim teams at U. of Illinois-Chicago - specifically, it funds their winter training trip. They're a great group of kids and the head coach Paul Moniak has always been incredibly supportive of Chicago Masters.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    I guess I missed the early "cheap" registration, because I paid more than that. Glad they do something useful with the $!
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    ..... its an expensive sport, but still cheaper than offspring!

    My "offspring" just raced with me a week ago for the first time and she's hooked. You can't put a price on that.

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

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    IronMike wrote:
    My "offspring" just raced with me a week ago for the first time and she's hooked. You can't put a price on that.

    A little different, but my Fiance doesn't seem to mind, and may even like, paddling for me. It's a pretty good deal.
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    edited September 2012
    Well David it seems like you are really trying to stir up a hornet's nest, so let me see if I can be of any help.

    Let me start with the easy one: entry fees. They are always to high except when I win (which is never). All kidding aside there is no right amount to charge for a swim. It is completely subjective. I was going to go into a lengthy explanation on how entry fees are viewed, set, and accepted or rejected but it quickly turned into the theater of the absurd. Suffice it to say that no matter what you set it at, there will be some people that will complain it is too high. Leaving aside major marathon swims (20+ miles) the entry fees have never been an issue for me. It is the other costs associated with travel, accommodations and food that are generally the biggest issue. Frankly, in general I think entry fees are "too" low in OWS, and I have to admit that I am always surprised when people say they think a fee is $5 - $10 - $15 too high. Maybe I'm out of touch, but when I get bored of training by myself in the local high school pool and go to workout with my team 30 miles away, I buy 2 gallons of gas driving to the workout and back and that adds up quickly.

    With TBMS, CC & MIMS the costs were driven by a number of things. The entry fee for Tampa is significant and it involved cross country travel and accommodations for 2. I paid extra for a (very experienced) kayaker which was not cheap ($250), but was the smartest thing I did. I had never done anything longer than a 10K, my crew member (family) had no experience and the boat captain had never escorted a swimmer before. After the swim I was too afraid to add up all the costs.

    MIMS was cross country travel for 2 and my accommodations and eats. In NYC that gets expensive quickly. Although NYC Swim will provide you a kayaker if you don't have one, I put my crew leader into a kayak and had to pay separately to rent the kayak. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to justify the cost of doing another swim in NYC unless my sister starts talking with me again so I can stay with her there. On the other end of the spectrum from this swim is a 5K or 10K OW lake swim in Oregon in the summer. I drive to the lake and camp out for a couple of days. Take a guess at which is more fun. But swims like MIMS are premier destination events and can not be examined using the same metrics.

    With CC my costs were driven by having 2 crew members for the swim and the pilot fee. Luckily everyone was on the west coast. I tried to save a little by compromising on the hotel, but I later regretted that. I just had a hard time paying for 3 expensive hotel rooms when no one would even be using it one of the nights. I had arranged to pay for a kayaker, but moments before the boat left the dock I was relieved of that financial burden. In retrospect skipping the kayaker and going with a better hotel room would be the way to go. The biggest cost was the cost of the pilot.

    Frankly there are a number of issues that should be addressed concerning pilot fees. Without going into detail, when I hire a pilot I expect that pilot to be on board not someone who works for him (no matter how good they are). If the sanctioning body has control over who can pilot a swim, I think there are some troubling issues that arise which can affect the amount charged. There would be in essence a monopoly and the pilots could charge whatever they wanted and would not have to face price competition from others. If the association only list pilots that they believe are qualified (ie they recommend) then that is not an issue. With the sport growing quickly, where will the pilots come from? Who will set the pilot fees? If there are more swimmers than pilot slots then pilots can charge whatever they want. If people are not willing to pay enough to attract good pilots what will happen? Will people go with inexperienced pilots or not do the swim? I suspect it would be the former.

    I think that the existence of a strong online community goes a long way in demystifying marathon swimming and provides an opportunity for people to share ideas and concerns, but let's be honest. If you have specific goals in this sport you must be mindful of staying in good graces with the sanctioning bodies and not end up on a pilot's black list. I suspect there is a lot certain pilots may not want people to know. Things go wrong in all areas of human endeavor, piloting marathon swimmers is not unique. Frankly as someone who studies up on something extensively before I take it on, I would feel better reading of the mistakes that people have made so that I can avoid making the in the future myself.

    I suppose there can be an element of a tribe mentality which may interfere with the free flow of information. We marathon swimmers stick together and fight for the sport we love (did you hear that the Coast Guard is going to make it illegal to swim more than 100 feet from shore in waters that they have jurisdiction over?). When faced with a shared interests race directors stick together; pilot's stick together (it is their livelihood after all); sanctioning bodies stick together; etc. I'm not sure anything will change that. Nevertheless, as the sport goes forward and continues to grow, all interested parties would benefit from an open dialogue on issues that affect the viability and success of the sport, even when it is uncomfortable (or embarrassing) to do so.

    When it comes to my carbon footprint, I have to be realistic. There isn't anyway I could bank enough carbon credits to get me and my crew to Dover and back.
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
    did you hear that the Coast Guard is going to make it illegal to swim more than 100 feet from shore in waters that they have jurisdiction over?

    Excuse me, but WTF?

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

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    bobswims wrote:
    Well David it seems like you are really trying to stir up a hornet's nest...

    Not really Bob (though admittedly, I do enjoy a bit of controversy on occasion) .
    As the director of a couple of events (of varying length, cost, commitment), that are still in their infancy, feedback is imperative. In a market with lots of OW events available, it is our goal to fill holes in the calendar (avoiding conflicts) and offer experiences that are not available elsewhere. Balancing the needs and expenses of both local and traveling participants weigh heavily in every decision we make

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • I'm all for a no-frills approach to most swims as long as it's safe. Safety costs are not frill costs.

    If a carbon-neutral approach costs a bit more, I'd pay for that, if only to attenuate my guilt.

    One thing race directors might want to consider is a breakdown of costs in terms of what an entry fee actually goes towards. Most people really don't know what it costs to put on a race and it's easy to think that everyone is volunteering or supplies are donated even when they are, in fact, not. It also helps contain costs because people are usually less likely to ask for frills if they can see that the race budget is maxed-out as is.

    As to housing costs: We could probably help ourselves on this one in several ways:
    1) Start a (separate) section on this board (or elsewhere) where people could offer to swap housing at their respective places. Included would be things like what "season" or event you are offering it for, duration of stay, number of people it's for, any other restrictions and allergy info (e.g. "we have 4 cats who will sleep on your head all night.") It might also be a good idea to have a reference person (for both sides) who can attest to a person's character for safety reasons. (e.g "Jansen is about as weird as it gets, but he is harmless.")
    2) Perhaps people would know someone in their area who would be willing to put up people for a swim and charge a fee much reduced as compared to the hotels. Might be a way for seniors, empty-nesters, etc to pick up some quick cash. Again, this could go on a web site.
    3) Perhaps people can't put you up in their house for one reason or another, but camping/trailering on their property might be an option. Either free/swap or real cheap.
    4) Ask an organization like USMS to find a hotel chain that has a large presence (e.g. Marriott) and negotiate a special year-round discount for USMS marathon/open water swimmers at all their places.
    5) Race directors could also avail themselves of the web site with info on the above as well as any hotel discounts, etc that they may have negotiated in their local area.

    -LBJ

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

  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    IronMike wrote:
    did you hear that the Coast Guard is going to make it illegal to swim more than 100 feet from shore in waters that they have jurisdiction over?

    Excuse me, but WTF?

    :-)

    (I love stirring up hornet's nests even if I have to make stuff up)
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    Balancing the needs and expenses of both local and traveling participants weigh heavily in every decision we make

    I think this is the hard part. If you want half of the local high school to enter you'll need to make it very cheap, but you can't have it so low that you don't make any money. Sometimes I think people don't fully appreciate the fact that while you may run an event for the love of the sport, in the end it makes no sense to run it year after year if you or your organization does not make money. It simply involves too much time and financial exposure to put an event on..

    When I look at potential swims I look for something that gets me excited. The swim has to have something special about it. Maybe it's something I've always wanted to do (inspirational/creative). Maybe the scenery is spectacular. Maybe I enjoy hanging out with the people who are going to show up. Maybe it fits into my preparation for a big swim. Maybe my senility has led me to believe I won the race when I was young(er). But there has to be something. It's not enough for me that it is an open water race. After I decide I want to do it I then decide if financially I can afford it and it makes sense to spend the money. This is why I think it is completely subjective.
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    One thing race directors might want to consider is a breakdown of costs in terms of what an entry fee actually goes towards. Most people really don't know what it costs to put on a race and it's easy to think that everyone is volunteering or supplies are donated even when they are, in fact, not. It also helps contain costs because people are usually less likely to ask for frills if they can see that the race budget is maxed-out as is.

    I think the bigger picture is how people find value in the swim. This can be the number of safety personell or a T shirt. It can be how smooth the administrative side of the race is handled (eg did they help me find a kayaker if one is required - this is a big one). It could be the impression you have of how professional the event is run on race day. The amount of the entry raises expectations of how well it should be run. My gut feeling on whether the race fee is reasonable is heavily influenced by my race day experience. The objective challenges and logistical problems that the race director faced putting it together and running it. I also take into account whether it is raising funds for a swim club or charity. I have a tendency to pick the swim, pay the entry fee and then complain after I've done the swim, but only if it falls materially short of my expectations in one way or another. However, I'm sure that some people have a rule that they will never pay more than a certain amount for a specific length race.

    Which raises an interesting question: Are you willing to pay more for a 5K than a mile? Are you willing to pay more for a 10K than a 5K? What if the course for all the races is a one mile loop and you just do multiple loops for the longer races? Perceived value?
    As to housing costs:
    . . .
    5) Race directors could also avail themselves of the web site with info on the above as well as any hotel discounts, etc that they may have negotiated in their local area.

    -LBJ

    All of your suggestions are good ones. For MIMS I used Airbnb which I am now a big fan of. I think 5) would be terrific, but again this creates more work for the RD. It may increase perceived value, but the RD has to decide if it is a high enough priority. (Spend time doing that or contacting local high school swim teams for volunteers?)

    When you are coming from out of town sometimes it is difficult to find out the simplest things. (Where can I find a place to buy water to bring on the support boat that is within walking distance to the dock? Where is the closest Margarita to the finish line.) However, this "local" knowledge could be made available by having swimmers post the information themselves on an event website for swimmers entering in the future. It's ridiculous to have to reinvent the wheel on simple but important stuff.
  • bobswimsbobswims Santa Barbara CACharter Member
    Niek wrote:
    Only hand out a medal or a ribbon to those who finished the race.
    T-shirts only for those who want them and are willing to pay for them in advance..

    If you are going to give out medals they should be unique and not a generic stuff like USMS. Those things get lost by the time my suit dries. MY MIMS & CC hang on the wall. However, clearly this may not be an option if races are small or on tight budgets.
  • HaydnHaydn Member
    edited September 2012
    The cost of the pilot boat for English Channel £2400. This is a huge cost. But we must assume the pilot misses two fishing tides and the income from the fish. But a 14 hour swim means a couple hours preparing the boat, four hours return trip, couple hours organising with the swimmer, running his business. Also some swims might take much much longer and the total hours way over 24. So is £100 an hour too much for boat hire, fuel, two crew, other income loss, and profit?
    Then other fees, yes it's an expensive sport if you want to do the classic swims. Did I mention, the lovely vellum certificate (a cherished possession but very expensive extra).
    I must say I get a real thrill from just going to the coast and swimming ten or twenty miles just by myself. Towing my raft behind me. Putting up my tent and starting again the next day. in a few days I have swam till my hearts content. No escorts, no kayaks, no fees. All by myself. These swims cost nothing.
    It's odd though, I have still booked a Channel swim next year, I just wanted one more go.
  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member
    Re Escort fees

    I thought the fee charged by my pilot for my EC crossing this year was reasonable. I had the boat for about 20 hours for my solo (16 hour swim plus travel to start point, travel back to Dover afterwards). And as Haydyn mentions above, the pilot will also have spent time analysing the weather, liaising and preparing for my swim beforehand.

    Admittedly I had a “value for money” crossing with a 16 hour swim! Not sure why anyone would pay all that money and then swim sub 7 hours....

    The fee would have included fuel (fuel is very expensive in UK), insurance (I am sure this is expensive too given the extreme nature of our sport!), contributions to boat maintenance costs, Dover Marina berthing fees (not cheap), pilots' licenses, costs of getting the pilot himself & crew to Dover. There will be other items that I have no doubt forgotten.

    The pilot has to pay his crew and finally make an income for himself after all the above is taken off. Also, It’s seasonal work which must be very disruptive to personal situations given the odd start times & short notice for swims.

    How much would a solicitor, accountant, plumber, gas man invoice for a “normal” day’s work? To me, it doesn’t seem an unreasonable price to pay for one special day given that I was paying my pilot for his years of expertise & also trusting him with my life!
  • Yep, but still expensive compared to a twenty mile training swim, which costs nothing. Its a shame we cannot do these big swims unescorted, that would really redefine the challenge.

    I would add, I haven't swam with company for years. It really is liberating. Having said that, I would cherish a training companion.
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    From @knicholas
    I like swag and I believe swims need to put something in the hands of a swimmer (cap, shirt, beer) so they leave with something - regardless of what it is or whether it fits - it's the act of giving that is appreciated.
    Even though I said I don't care about t-shirts, I actually wear the S.C.A.R. t-shirt @knicholas gave me quite a bit. It has long sleeves, and I wear it to keep warm before and after a swim. My husband wears his in the kayak when it's cool outside.

    And I'm pretty attached to my swag from Swim the Suck. I wanted to sleep in the t-shirt the night after the race. The only thing that stopped me was that I wanted to wear it on the plane the next day. Even though I look like a potato in it. And, if you come to my house, I'll serve you a really great cup of coffee, but don't even THINK about using my Swim the Suck coffee mug finisher award.
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
    I'm with @WaterGirl.

    I also wore my StS shirt on the plane. And met two other swimmers at the airport because of it!

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

  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    I met another Sucker on the plane too.
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