Anthony McCarley St Thomas-St John 2-way (First MSF-Rule swim!)

evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
edited February 2016 in Cheering Section
This discussion was created from comments split from: What qualifies as an "official swimming governing body"?.


  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member
    So, I am missing one of my favorite swims this weekend - the Tampa Bay Frogman. My wife has a work function in St Thomas (USVI) and I have to attend (oh the hardship). Since I was missing the Frogman, I thought I would make up for it by doing a low key training swim from St Thomas to St John and back on Saturday (to measure how out of shape I really am). Got my wife's agreement and hired an escort captain a few weeks ago.

    What does this have to do with this thread? I am the swimmer Evan referenced above.

    Establishing agreed upon rules for this sport is a cause I believe in. In support of the newly released (but I must say long-understood) rules of marathon swimming, I will do this swim following the Rules. I would have followed the Rules even for a training swim - so the only real differences are that I will have an Observer logging the swim and will provide a GPS feed via SPOT. I believe this swim will be the first swim anywhere in the world to follow the global Rules and that you should consider me a guinea pig.
    If you would like to follow the swim, you can track it here:
    Or here:

    The swim is scheduled to start at 730am local time.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    Good on ya', Anthony! Have a great swim.
  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNSenior Member
    I was down in St John last year and looked at the distance between islands myself. Looks like it'd be a fun spot to try, but just be careful of all the ferry traffic between the two islands.

    Barring the traffic, another great swim there is the 3.5 miles between beaches that's done on this race. You could do one way (west) then turn around against the current and go back. The water is spectacular there.
  • Laflamme02Laflamme02 Member
    edited January 2014
    I'm glad I read this because the distance between St. Thomas and St. John gives me the perfect occasion to ask a question I've had since reading the new rules:

    How stringent is the minimum distance rule of 10K (6.2137 miles)? Does a 6 mile swim count? Does a 6.19 mile swim count? What distance measuring tools are acceptable to be used to base the 'official' distance off of? Are GPS readings taken during the swim required to authenticate minimum distance has been reached?

    I'm aware that many (most?) members of the forum aren't concerned about minimum distances since they will be doing much longer swims. However, for those of us training for our first official marathon swim as well as shorter swims that want to still count as official these details are important.

    I'm pretty sure it's distance measured in a straight line not distance swam? If so, isn't @AnthonyMcCarley 's swim going to be too "short"? (Quotes used to indicate due respect). Using Google Earth and my best guess the route looks like it will be 2.95 miles one way which is only 5.9 miles, which is obviously less than 6.2. Does it count?

    Please don't read this as an attempt to undermine the validity of the swim. I'm just using it as a starting point for the discussion, which I think is why it was added as a new thread.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited January 2014
    Laflamme02 wrote:
    a question I've had since reading the new rules: How stringent is the minimum distance rule of 10K (6.2137 miles)? Does a 6 mile swim count? Does a 6.19 mile swim count?
    MSF Rules define a marathon swim as:
    A nonstop open-water swim, undertaken according to standardized rules, and requiring at least several hours of sustained effort to complete. Ten kilometers without significant assistance from currents is the minimum distance considered to be a marathon swim.

    10km is based on the standard distance used in the Olympics, and its equivalence in time-to-completion to the 26.2-mile marathon run at the elite level.

    Of course, ultimately this is an arbitrary distance, especially in bodies of water affected by currents. Hence the additional component of the definition, "requiring at least several hours of sustained effort to complete." So, a 10km float down a river could not reasonably be considered a marathon swim, but a 1-mile swim against a 2-knot current might reasonably be considered a marathon swim if it took several hours to finish.

    So, 10km is meant as a guideline definition, not a "rule." Whether Anthony's swim is shorter or longer than 10km is irrelevant as far as MSF Rules are concerned. He will undertake a long-distance open water swim between St Thomas and St John (& back) according to standardized (MSF) rules. The reported distance is the shortest straight-line between the natural shores.
  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member
    edited January 2014
    Sorry for just jumping back in here. Today was a travel day.

    Okay, so “guinea pig” is coming into play right away. I knew the importance of swimming 10k, so the swim is starting in the Great Bay, specifically on the beach immediately in front of a bar named Sails. I picked this spot for a couple of reasons – one of which was because I knew I needed the extra distance of the bay. The captain has a point selected on St John that is more than 5k from Sails. Evan’s comment that all that counts is the shortest points between the islands is going to make this a tough swim to meet the 10k standard.

    Would it change things if we called this a swim between two particular points (and not a swim between islands)?

    BTW: I have asked around quite a bit the last two years and no one knows of anyone who has ever done this swim. (I tried to do this swim last year, but couldn’t find a captain who wanted anything to do with it.) Spoke with someone today who is sixth generation St Thomas and not only had he never heard of anyone doing this swim, he thought I was nuts. (My thought: That is a pretty normal reaction.) Sure will be nice to have an organization that keeps track of these things so that we all really know… thank you MSFederation.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited January 2014
    Evan’s comment that all that counts is the shortest points between the islands is going to make this a tough swim to meet the 10k standard.

    Would it change things if we called this a swim between two particular points (and not a swim between islands)?
    I've explained this to Anthony privately, but to clarify for others:

    MSF uses 10km as the standard minimum distance for a marathon swim, in an attempt to establish some baseline meaning to the term "marathon swim." In the absence of such a baseline definition, what is stopping someone from saying 2 miles is a "marathon swim"? Or a 10km float down a river?

    The MSF also recognizes that bodies of water affected by currents make standard definitions less meaningful.

    MSF Rules should be considered as a separate issue. Anyone can use MSF Rules - be it for a 1-mile swim or a 100-mile swim. Whether it satisfies the standard minimum distance of 10km is irrelevant.

    For those familiar with database technology, in the MSF database of swims (under development), there is no binary data field for "10km or more" or "less than 10km." The relevant field is "distance" only, perhaps in combination with "estimated current assist." If anything, the important binary data field is "followed standard Rules" or "did not follow standard Rules."
  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member
    Just made arrangements to make this a triple instead of a double.
  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member
    Plan is to meet on St Thomas at 7, motor over to St John and start from there.

    Change in plans because of my confusion regarding the way the Marathon Swimmers Federation measures distance between land masses. I thought I could select spots on either shore that would get me over the 10,000 meter standard. But the distance is measured as the water between the closest points of land. (Yes, it makes sense and yes I know that is how the EC is measured... I was just confused.)

    My planned start and finish points are thrown out the window. Not sure yet what the final distance will be, but it will be closer to 15,000 meters than 10,000 meters.

    (This was supposed to be a low key training swim! Didn't even bring my carbo pro with me!)
  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    Best of luck on the swim, Anthony!
  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
    Anthony did a triple! Send us a summary after some sleep. Congrats.
  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member
    edited January 2014
    As much as you would think I slept away the afternoon and evening. By the time we got back and had lunch, I only got 15 minutes of sleep before I had to get ready for a work function for my wife. Sorry for no post until now. By the time we returned to the room around 1030, I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

    First, I must say the Captain did a great job. He knew having special “expertise” was important for an official Observer. So, he arranged to have two other captains on the boat. One as the Observer, who did not assist the swim in any way. One who functioned as my immediate support – did the feeds, etc.

    According to everyone I have spoken with, including these three captains, no one has ever swam even a one-way between these islands. Much less a Triple. So, there was a lot of learning going on. But the captain, did his job: Got me to shore alive.

    I got fooled in the first leg – St John to St Thomas. Smoked out the lap in 1 hour and 10 minutes. It was a great feeling seeing the bottom come up to me at shore. It felt good and I thought to myself that the swim was going to be easier than I thought. Then Mother Nature called me a smart-ass and smacked my ass. I knew the wind was blowing toward St Thomas, so expected the second leg to be harder – but we all expected the third leg to be easy again. Instead the legs went from easy, to hard, to really, really hard. The second lap took about double the time. The winds were bad and the current was working against us. For a long time, I was stuck 1,000 meters from shore. A little tired, but thinking the worse was behind me, I started the third leg with a relaxed optimism. About 500 meters off shore, the currents shifted against us. And it was all uphill from there. Swells picked up. Boat traffic picked up. Wind picked up. And the currents got stronger. I was only about 15 meters from the boat, but there were many times that the swells were so big that I completely lost sight of even the antenna of the 35 foot escort boat. I will admit that the third leg pushed me very close to my limits. Took all I had to carry on.

    We couldn’t get to the rock beach we used on the first leg, so I had to scramble over sharp(ish), urchin covered boulders to finish... and instead of a pebble as a trophy, I have an urchin spine in one of my toes!

    If you read this far, thanks for your interest.

    I will get my paperwork turned into the Federation late this week.
  • Congratulations! Read everything with keen interest.

    Sisu: a Finnish term meaning strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity.

  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member
    Well done Anthony! (*) (*) (*)
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    'at a boy, Anthony!
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited February 2014
    Here's some video from @AnthonyMcCarley's three-way crossing of the Pillsbury Sound between St Thomas & St John in the US Virgin Islands.

    Anthony has provided GPS data and original observer logs, along with this raw video footage, as documentation of his swim. All documentation will be publicly available for inspection. I expect that the MSF will acknowledge and endorse this as the first swim done specifically in accordance with MSF Rules. However, the procedures for doing this are still under development (our fault, not Anthony's).

    For now, I congratulate Anthony on his impressive, pioneering swim.

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited March 2014
    Nice DNOWS profile on Forum member @AnthonyMcCarley!

    Thanks for mentioning the Forum and MSF, Anthony!
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