Bootlegging open water events

GordsGords Syracuse, UTCharter Member
edited May 2013 in General Discussion
I was wondering if any race directors out there ever had swimmers participate in their events without registering?
Were they discovered before the start? What action did you take?
What would you do (if anything) as a swimmer participating in a race where you knew someone who was planning to swim without paying?

I noticed there isn't much on this topic, and would like to read opinions and experiences.


  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    I think H2open wrote something on this recently. I'll try to find it.

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

  • MunatonesMunatones Charter Member
    edited August 2014

    Steven Munatones
    Huntington Beach, California, U.S.A.

  • GordsGords Syracuse, UTCharter Member
    Excellent, thanks Steve.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    We had a bootleg attempt in the Santa Barbara Channel a few years ago, which prompted Scott Zornig to write this:
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    Scott's article may be what I was thinking of.

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

  • oxooxo Guest
    edited May 2013
    I agree with Gord's writings regarding non-registered swimmers in association organized group swims, but I find Zornig's writings regarding independent swimmers out on a self-organized solo swim to be, well, a load.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    Bootlegging an event can be an actual danger to the other participants.

    It is not hard to imagine scenarios where the pilot coverage for a swim is compromised because:

    a) The bootleggers are decreasing the ratio of swimmers to pilots
    b) The bootleggers did not attend safety briefings and make poor choices resulting in the need for pilot intervention.
    c) the bootlegger decides to withdraw mid event, or otherwise not finish in the prescribed manner and does not follow protocols for withdrawal (e.g. swims out of event area) triggering intervention by pilots

    If the bootlegger is not wearing the correct cap for the event you could argue that the pilots don't need to intervene, but the reality is for many events (e.g. an Alcatraz crossing) the pilots are going to assume *anyone* in the water is under their duty of care (and if the bootlegger is clearly in distress one would hope they would assist).

    If the bootlegger is trying to appear as a participant (wearing at least a similar coloured cap, possibly fake markings), then they could possibly compromise other safety protocols based around swimmer counts.

    Putting the safety of others at risk is ultimately a selfish action in my opinion. - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    The term we use around here is "banditing".
  • oxooxo Guest
    edited May 2013
    'b', 'c', and 'e' are excellent points. In the sense that swimmers will come to the aid of a struggling swimmer, I think 'a' is a wash considering a non-registered swimmer is also providing that swimmer-to-swimmer safety to the registered swimmers, which in my opinion is far more important.
  • FrancoFranco Chestertown, MDCharter Member
    I wouldn’t go quite as far as @oxo in first post but I would agree these are two entirely different offenders. I think that most would believe that offender number one is basically a cheapskate and is taking services that others have paid for.

    The second person may not be doing what is best for the marathon swimming community but they are not stealing like the other one is. The assumption is that this person is trying to save money. How do we know this? They may end up spending more money. They may not want to do things the same way the organization does, they may not care for their qualifying swim policy, they may not want to get the medical form done or they just may not like the head of the organization.

    If everyone thought the official swimming organizations of these long swims did a perfect job, why would the English Channel need two? That is not a knock on either or any swim organization but obviously there may be reasons other than associated costs that would make swimmers want to go outside of the organization.
  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    If I can ever get my training regime in next Southern California Island swim will probably be with my friends escort boat (coast guard certified)....I am finding too many issues (and arrogance) with both of the certifying organizations.

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
    I am finding too many issues (and arrogance) with both of the certifying organizations.
    Please do tell. What are the issues?
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited May 2013
    Sharko, I wasn't aware you had been in contact with the SBCSA, but I apologize if you had a negative experience with us. I will be at the South End this week and for B2B on Monday, and I hope we can discuss these issues in person. I'm happy to discuss them here on the Forum too if you prefer.
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