CS&PF annual report re: 'Guardians of English Channel Rules'

evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
edited March 2019 in General Discussion
The CS&PF do a great job with their annual report; I consider it required reading for anyone interested in the sport:


One or two sections of President Nick Adams' report struck me as particularly interesting and worthy of discussion. Here's one:

Guardians of 'English Channel Rules'

This title does sound rather arrogant, but I will explain.

Channel Swimming is a very much established sport, and in the past ten years or so, both social media and open water swimming in general has blossomed worldwide. Does one 'cause' the other; that's another debate. What I do know, is that there is much discussion about open water swimming and 'Channel Swimming rules' being cited as the gold standard from which most organisations evolve their own rules, with changes according to local requirements.

What this means, is that often the CS&PF and our officers/committee are asked for opinions in online debate about rules/situations, but on the whole we try and stay out of such debates. You might have wondered why we do so, and why we are not representing you 'fully'.

Despite some of the officers/committee being highly knowledgeable and respected by the swimming fraternity, it's very hard to express a personal opinion and not drag your name of office/CS&PF into the debate too. The Federation is too precious to us, for us to risk damaging it merely to try and voice personal opinions.

That said, we do a great deal behind the scenes to help existing and new organisations, sharing our experiences and knowledge. As is said: “The more you know, the less you need to show”. Rest assured, we certainly do our bit for the swimming community on your behalf, but don't shout about it.

We are not going to stand still, pat ourselves on the back, and promote our rules as the finest rules ever to exist. I recognise and acknowledge that we must spend more time on our rules, to clarify in some situations, and evolve in others. I consider this very important, and something we will be investing our time in.


  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited March 2014
    Life is change. Open water swimming is change. Marathonswimmers.org is change.

    Many of us are ordinary swimmers, who love the community just as much, who seek also to do what we can for it. We don't have to be at it for 20 years or to have set any records to want to do our bit.

    The more you know, the less you need to show attitude was why I started my blog, because there were people with knowledge who wouldn't share it, and I often had to figure stuff out with my friends. It's also part of why Evan and I started marathonswimmers.org, why you all are part of this community. Because we often have to learn and teach ourselves. No-one needs permission to be part of or want to contribute to the community.

    You don't have be swimming open water for 20 years or to be a part of a committee, or have any records or prospects thereof, to want to be able to make a difference and to help out others and the sport.

    The explicit criticism from Nick of what this group is trying to do for the sport is clear. Nonetheless, the community itself has shown it doesn't need permission to consider change while trying to adhere to a common shared tradition.

    Donal -- a member of nothing except this community and my club.


  • NedNed Charter Member
    edited March 2014
    [copied from http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/790/nick-adams-on-039the-emergence-of-the-ego-swimmer039#Item_8]

    2. Nick made the point that organisations like the CS&PF (and another 10+ marathon organizations) have 40+ years of experience in setting rules for their swims. At no point did Nick or the CS&PF have a negative comment about the rules proposed by Donal and Evan (it may have been a larger group - so I may not have described the process correctly - sorry).

    I helped drive acceptance of these rules in the Sandycove Island Swim Club > where we do not have the same kind of history. But at the same time I respect the history of Cook Straits, Manhattan, CSA, CS&PF, etc. to have their own rules. I voted on changes to CS&PF rules at the AGM....in a democratically run meeting of members announced in advance.

    It may be in 5+ years that all of these organizations meet annually to discuss and agree a unified set of rules. Maybe there will be some kind of global committee...I have no idea...but it is probably the only way to unify (which may or may not be a good idea......there are aggressive sharks in Cook....but not so many in EC)

    If this is important to the members of the MSF...then lobby your marathon associations, submit motions, get elected to lobby for such a thing.

    I applaud Nick for many things before 2012 and after that for running for President of CS&PF, I applaud him for making a difference and I applaud him for making an address and challenging US OF ALL to think about issues that may be important.

    Don't throw brick at the messenger....but for sure debate the questions he raises and the future process of unified rules (or not)
  • sharkbaitzasharkbaitza LondonMember
    I'm sorry, but I don't see anything negative towards this forum or members in Nick's statement
    he explicit criticism from Nick of what this group is trying to do for the sport is clear

    Am I missing something?

    I completely understand his point about a personal opinion being attributed to an organistion.

    not being negative here, just don't see it :)
  • JimBoucherJimBoucher Senior Member

    I’m with you on this one, I really can’t see what the apparent paranoia is all about.
    Nick, if I can drop the “Mr Adams” formality, is a monsterly enthusiastic personality who, as others point out, has made such an impact on the sport in helping, inspiring and enthusing newcomers and “old lags” alike.

    Open-ness and fairness would be a couple of Nick’s trademarks and I guess this is the spirit in which the CS&PF’s internal documentation has been made available to the world should it want to look. To be able to read “explicit criticism” from it is some achievement, guys.

    Putting the document into the public domain is, of course, a brave step if “outsiders” reading it then feel they are entitled to open up a debate with the organisation itself and its Officers. As Ned points out, membership of the CS&PF is open to everyone and it is only within the organisation that its rules would be sensibly debated and changed. So get in and make your contribution!
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited March 2014
    Taking the time to write these Op-Eds and putting them in the organization's public annual report seems like a rather odd move if it wasn't expected that people would discuss it, wouldn't you say, Jim?
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandCharter Member
    edited March 2014
    So @sharkbaitza and @jimboucher, you think there's no connection between:
    The release of the MSF rules a few months ago and the personal (and even racial) abuse from a small few channel chat group members toward the authors that resulted; any discussion by members of the CS&PF committee about not endorsing the MSF rules; and Nick's title of "Guardians of 'English Channel Rules'" and then talking about improving CS&PF rules?

    @Ned speaks about Nick's address, which the linked article is the published report (not an internal document), not Nick's Annual CS&PF Dinner address. @Ned also mentions how in the future the organisations might decide to unify rules.

    That would be great. But given the utter lack of any movement toward that now or in the foreseeable future, and in a discussion amongst many of the organisation members two years ago, there was no movement to that. So we decided that there was nothing wrong with swimmers doing something about it since so many organisations didn't want to so do. The MSF rules were always stated to cover new swims or swims outside the remit of, and to have no effect on, those existing organisations. As is made clear repeatedly.

    Setting it up so it looks like we are attacking Nick, whom I also know & respect, is a disingenuous strawman argument. We never criticised the CS&PF or Nick or CS&PF committee. That kind of personal attack may be what can happen on the chat group but we try hard to avoid it here.

    And another thing, @JimBoucher & @Ned all know me well enough also to know that is not my way either.

    It's beyond me why anyone has to be a member of an organisation or committee or somesuch to have a opinion. I didn't know I wasn't entitled to an opinion once my paid CS&PF membership expired.


  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member
    loneswimmer, Thank you for connecting the dots. The additional information is enlightening.
  • sharkbaitzasharkbaitza LondonMember
    I still don't see how Nick was negative but obviously you have been offended in some way. I don't understand why the sets of rules have to be in competition with each other. If you want to swim the EC, there are clear rules. If you want to run an event or do a swim that does not have a formal set of rules, then you have the option of using the MSF rules or any others for that matter. For the record, I like the MSF rules and if they are adopted globally it will make it easier to compare swims in the future. That said, I doubt if everyone will adopt them straight away.

    I guess it's a bit like golf rules. There are a basic set of rules set out by an organization but each country/region have some minor variations on them and even local courses have local rules that might vary further from the main set. It doesn't mean it's no longer golf, just that you need to be aware of the local variations. And as with golf, ignorance of the rules is not accepted as an excuse.

    The main point is that we should always be open and clear on what 'set of rules' we are adhering to before starting any swim and not tailoring the rules to fit your swim after the fact.

  • JimBoucherJimBoucher Senior Member
    We may end up getting tied up in semantics and nuances. The CS&PF reports are, essentially for its members, that's why I used the word "internal". Sure they become public domain the moment they are published, but I doubt they were written for public digest as the number one priority. Making them available to assist and stimulate debate is all well and good, but as others have said above, the organisations that manage specific swims will be the ones that manage their rules.

    In answer to the various questions, no I don't see any connection and I still don't see where this "explicit criticism" is coming from. Sure a few individuals took umbrage with what they may have seen as an entirely irrelevant ( to them) set of rules and bit back, but they weren't acting in any CS&PF or CSA capacity.
  • jgaljgal Member
    I don't understand why the sets of rules have to be in competition with each other. If you want to swim the EC, there are clear rules. If you want to run an event or do a swim that does not have a formal set of rules, then you have the option of using the MSF rules or any others for that matter.

    Agree 100%.

    I greatly appreciate both the CS&PF and the MSF for different reasons. I love that the CS&PF has clear rules for officially swimming the EC, and I love that the MSF is charting new territory by brainstorming ways to ensure honesty and integrity in swims not governed by an official swimming body.

    That said, I think some posts on here are confusing Nick the Swimmer with Nick the CS&PF president. I am sure Nick the Swimmer has plenty of opinions about rules, regulations, and the like, but Nick is also in a leadership role of a very important swimming federation that looks after a very treasured swim in our community. Given the rapid changes happening in the EC (which he outlines in his report...increase in swims, increase in relays, dealing with the coast guards, etc), I'd say Nick the CS&PF president has his hands full nearly 365 days a year. (Just as the moderators of this awesome community probably find themselves busy on this site nearly 365 days a year.) Nick has done a great job as president of CS&PF...why is it felt that he must contribute to other discussions, as Swimmer or as CS&PF president?

    The CS&PF is a federation solely concerned with upholding the rules of the English Channel... it's a key responsibility of the CS&PF committee to focus on their rules...not any others. While members of that committee (and others) are sometimes contributors to our marathon swimming community, they aren't required to do so.

    As a swimmer, I am thankful to all of you on committees who volunteer such precious personal time to meet on these things. I think it's a role that never quite gets the credit it deserves, and we should respect each individual for the job they are freely doing, and not ask anything more of them.
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