New FINA rules on wetsuits

2

Comments

  • bruckbruck San FranciscoMember

    Does anyone involved in USMS leadership (or with knowledge of such) have any insighs on how this FINA ruling affects USMS open water rules? Does USMS automatically adopt FINA guidelines? @emkhowley ?

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    bruck said:
    Does anyone involved in USMS leadership (or with knowledge of such) have any insighs on how this FINA ruling affects USMS open water rules? Does USMS automatically adopt FINA guidelines? @emkhowley ?

    Don't expect USMS to do anything positive as far as OW is concerned.

    lakespray[Deleted User]DanSimonelli

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

  • swimmer25kswimmer25k Charter Member

    20 years ago during the IMSA days (before FINA went pro), we swam sans wetsuit down to 56 degrees at the start. Speedo, cap, ear-plugs, and goggles were it.

    lakesprayDanSimonelligregoc
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    edited November 2016

    IronMike said:

    bruck said:
    Does anyone involved in USMS leadership (or with knowledge of such) have any insighs on how this FINA ruling affects USMS open water rules? Does USMS automatically adopt FINA guidelines? @emkhowley ?

    Don't expect USMS to do anything positive as far as OW is concerned.

    Back in the spring, there was a proposal made by the USMS Board of Directors to align USMS's cold water policy with FINA's. It was presented to the Long Distance committee and after much discussion, the proposal was voted down and withdrawn from the list of proposals presented to the House of Delegates in Atlanta this past September. All the minutes from the different committee meetings over the course of the year where the issue was discussed are posted publicly on the USMS website. Long Distance Committee meeting minutes are here.

    The committee did adopt warm water restrictions at the annual meeting in September. You can see the text of the changes that were ultimately approved on page 9 of this PDF.

    USMS falls under the purview of FINA, but USMS has discretion in which rules it adopts. For example, USMS rules offer some variations for accommodating swimmers with disabilities that FINA does not. Appendix B of the USMS Rule Book lists the rules that vary from FINA, USA Swimming, the National Federation of High School Swimming, and NCAA governing bodies.

    The answer to any and all other USMS rules questions can be found with some digging in the Rule Book. The 2017 edition is currently in layout (guess who drives the InDesign bus for that?) and will be heading to press in early December.

    IronMikeFlowSwimmersJustSwimgregoc

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...
    https://elainekhowley.com/

  • smithsmith Huntsville, AlabamaSenior Member

    Water temperature is only one component. They should take into account air temperature as well so there is composite threshold.

    I've done lake workouts in (barely) sub-60 water temps, with air temps around 55-60 (F).I've found that I can't do this if the air temp is somewhere generally below 40.

    wendyv34dpm50gregoc

    Keep moving forward.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Absolutely! 55 is refreshing on an 80 degree day, not so much on a 40 degree day.

    dpm50Bridget

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • edited November 2016

    WOW... I think they should leave it up the swimmer... What ever happen to everyone is different.

    Swimming is my happy place

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    https://swimswam.com/webby-scott-win-new-zealand-open-water-titles-wetsuits/

    it's here. Sounds like that is the first instance of this new rule being enforced.

    miklcct
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Argh! Nooooooooo!

    miklcct

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    sharkbaitgirl said:
    WOW... I think they should leave it up the swimmer... What ever happen to everyone is different.

    Then they would all still wear them. Who would pass up the flotation advantage if their competitors were wearing wetsuits?

    miklcct

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

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    I swim in a wetsuit sometimes when I feel the need, but instead of it being an advantage, it often seems to slow me down. I use a full sleeve suit and it feels constricting. As soon as the water temp allows, I go back to skin (low 60s, usually), and my swimming feels so much freer! Looking this year to improve my ability to tolerate colder water, so I can enjoy that freedom for a longer time through the year.

    wendyv34Bridget
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    Never thought I'd see the day, but I was swimming well in 55F last October, with matching air temperatures, and air within 10 degrees. I've got a wetsuit for if I'm swimming with triathletes who are in shape and I've been out of the water for a few weeks-- just to keep up-- but would prefer fins for that in the future. I don't care for how a wetsuit makes me swim-- my feet feel like periscopes, and my kick gets lazy which makes my feet colder. Also, getting out of the suit takes too much time and effort, and I don't want to risk cramps nor hypothermia. I wear an old suit in cold water so I can dry off and dress quickly to go for a brisk walk or jog to warm up again.

    I can see a recommendation for suits, but not the mandate.

    curlydpm50
  • IronMike said:
    Then they would all still wear them. Who would pass up the flotation advantage if their competitors were wearing wetsuits?

    I would never have know wetsuits make that much of a difference until I did an open water workout with someone wearing one. I can usually out pace him, but with that wetsuit on I was working to keep up. That was a real eye opener.

    IronMikeDanSimonelli
  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    I wonder if there would be a way to determine a fair handicap for a wetsuit swimmer. That way, the swimmer could decide to wear a wetsuit but have to add X minutes to their time. Maybe some sort of authenticated timed short distance swim (500?) without wetsuit and with wetsuit, then a handicap is assigned. That way, the decision is left to the swimmer whether they want to wear the wetsuit and take the penalty. I bet there are even smart people (not me) that could compile a bunch of with and without times and develop a formula that gets applied depending on distance and time swum.

    I guess that still won't combat the marketing efforts of the wetsuit manufacturers and the liability concerns of the race sponsors though.

    DanSimonelliIronMike
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Wetsuits help different people in varying amounts. Anyone who has body position issues gets help from a wetsuit. The worse (more vertical) your body position is, the more the wetsuit helps you. Even elite swimmers who have good body position may have to work harder to hold it over time due to having lower body fat/natural buoyancy. Buoyancy is part skill and part the makeup of a particular body.

    I have a couple of friends who were spectacular (HS state track finalists, semi-pro b-baller) land athletes in their younger days. Both of them were also ridiculously fast in the pool, up to about 100 yards. Both of them told me they struggled to stay afloat and it was exhausting, so they just couldn't swim any further. I tried to work with one of them on body position in the pool, I got him completely leveled out, but 18" under water. We got the other guy to swim a 500 once; he was completely blown up swimming a time similar to mine, but he's 15 years younger and built like a MMA fighter.

    They also help a swimmer that is prone to getting cold, vs. someone who is not.

    A full suit adds surface area to the forearm, which is like adding a small hand paddle to the equation. I've never been able to tolerate a wetsuit with sleeves, but I've used those TYR neoprene sleeves and I can feel the difference in "load" on my deltoids.

    Personally, I feel hindered by a wetsuit due to over-floatation of my lower body. It negates my kick and throws off my balance. I don't think I swim any faster in a wetsuit but I know I enjoy it a lot less. It changes my stroke enough that I don't feel like me swimming. My times over the years on the same courses have been pretty similar, whether I wore a wetsuit or not.

    I don't think there's one formula that would apply to everyone for figuring out how much time to add. At Cascade Lakes Swim Festival, the individual races are scored separately (suit or skin), but for series points, there is a 10% penalty for wearing a wetsuit. It would be a very poor strategic decision for me to wear a wetsuit, but for some swimmers, it makes sense and is totally worthwhile.

    JustSwimcurlydpm50DanSimonelli

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • evmoevmo VermontAdmin
    edited January 2017

    curly said:
    I bet there are even smart people (not me) that could compile a bunch of with and without times and develop a formula that gets applied depending on distance and time swum.

    A few years ago I did a study (admittedly unscientific) using my own performances at the weekly Santa Barbara Reef & Run 1-mile ocean swim. Over 4 wetsuit-assisted swims and 3 skin swims, I averaged about 90 seconds faster per mile in a low-end sleeveless Xterra wetsuit, compared to textile jammers. Details here:

    http://blog.marathonswimmers.org/speed-advantage-wetsuit

    All that said, I agree with @wendyv that it's tough to generalize the wetsuit advantage... everyone's a bit different.

    curlyIronMikeDanSimonelligregoc
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    edited January 2017

    My slowest time in last year's 6-race open water series (just 800m) was when I wore a wetsuit. But (1) it was my first time wearing this wetsuit and (2) I hadn't yet acclimated to the temperature (56 degrees, so for many of you, warm--but I'm still a work in progress on this score). Still, the tightness in the neck felt weird and I found myself having to tug at the neckline every so often (I've since gotten used to that feeling, but still not crazy about it, hence trying to limit wetsuit swims)--and as people noted, it didn't feel like me swimming.

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    So I've found some additional open water swims here in Russia, in fact one only about 15k drive from my house (a 5K in a rowing facility). Only problem: if the water is 20C and below, wetsuits are mandatory. No waivers. No thank you.

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

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    Recently posted by the MSF FB group is this article about USA Swimming now mandating wetsuits. Sigh...

    And sorry, all this non-sense about "optional" is such a load of hooie. What swimmer in his or her right mind would go skins if all his/her competition were in a wetsuit?

    miklcct

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

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    I like beating wetsuit wearers. Even if a wetsuit beats you by a few minutes, they know and you know that head to head they wouldn't stand a chance. If you beat a young wetsuit wearer it's even better. :) And really, who cares, it's not like we are racing for a $1m purse or anything.

    wendyv34ssthomasflystormsdpm50
  • MoCoMoCo Worcester, MASenior Member

    There's nothing like standing on the beach before a race start, completely calm in a bathing suit or tri suit, watching triathletes in wetsuits and neoprene caps lose their f'ing minds about the "horribly cold" water they are about to endure (upper 60s/low 70s around here, usually). To be fair, my bioprene game is on point.

    wendyv34Camillemiklcctdpm50
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    curly said:
    I like beating wetsuit wearers. Even if a wetsuit beats you by a few minutes, they know and you know that head to head they wouldn't stand a chance. If you beat a young wetsuit wearer it's even better. :) And really, who cares, it's not like we are racing for a $1m purse or anything.

    The race @IronMike is referring to are the qualifiers for world championships. For those guys, there is prize money and their career, at least to some extent, at stake. I don't like the rule either, but he's right, if it is such a high stakes race, you would be foolish to put yourself at a competitive disadvantage by not wearing a wetsuit against your suited competition.

    IronMike
  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    Like everything in the world today follow $$$, I have no doubt there was heavy heavy lobbying from the vested interests. :-(

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    lakespray said:
    Like everything in the world today follow $$$, I have no doubt there was heavy heavy lobbying from the vested interests. :-(

    Do you think that Roka, Xterra, and the like have that much pull in swimming? Honest question, not trying to sound inflammatory. Since Speedo and Arena don't make wetsuits (I think TYR does, but I'm not certain), I'm curious who you view as the vested interests who would have lobbied for this.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WASenior Member

    timsroot said:

    curly said:
    I like beating wetsuit wearers. Even if a wetsuit beats you by a few minutes, they know and you know that head to head they wouldn't stand a chance. If you beat a young wetsuit wearer it's even better. :) And really, who cares, it's not like we are racing for a $1m purse or anything.

    The race @IronMike is referring to are the qualifiers for world championships. For those guys, there is prize money and their career, at least to some extent, at stake. I don't like the rule either, but he's right, if it is such a high stakes race, you would be foolish to put yourself at a competitive disadvantage by not wearing a wetsuit against your suited competition.

    Ahh, that is a whole different matter then. I am firmly in the non-wetsuit camp. They should not be allowed in competition. Maybe do wetsuits as a junior division. They let wheelchair racers race the Boston Marathon and they cross the line first. They are amazing, but the winner of the marathon is the runner wearing shorts and shoes, crossing the line unassisted.

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    timsroot said:

    lakespray said:
    Like everything in the world today follow $$$, I have no doubt there was heavy heavy lobbying from the vested interests. :-(

    Do you think that Roka, Xterra, and the like have that much pull in swimming? Honest question, not trying to sound inflammatory. Since Speedo and Arena don't make wetsuits (I think TYR does, but I'm not certain), I'm curious who you view as the vested interests who would have lobbied for this.

    Arena and TYR do make wetsuits and now besides the $250 TYR jammer that parents have to buy their age group swimmer. Once they get an invite to open water event, Mom and Dad will have to fork it out for a wetsuit too. Have you ever been or talked with swim team parents?

    Is it one more product these guys can sell? Yes

    Will it increase advertising opportunities/revenue for Swimswam, Swimming World, Swimmer Magazine and other swim publications? I think so. In the same issue that Swimmer featured Sarah Thomas they also had their annual wetsuit issue. I never underestimate what any sport tries to sell us needed or not. Now that they have an in, it's entirely predictable that there next push will be for even higher temperatures limits beyond the current 68F/20C.

    evmotimsrootIronMike
  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    @lakespray - fair points, and I didn't realize Arena made wetsuits. My kids aren't old enough yet for me to have to fork over for tech suits, although I do think that it's a positive step that a lot of LSCs are outlawing Tech Suits for 12 and under.

    I do think that the rule is a shame. I hope it doesn't increase in temperature, although it's very hard to imagine the rule backtracking.

    The more I pay attention, the more open water swimming feels like an after thought to FINA and USS. FINA appears to have started more mass start events, and they still do have their 10k world cup (including a stop, conveniently, in Abu Dhabi), but their grand prix for longer events is down to 3 events. I forget how many stops there used to be, but I know they had a 15k in Cancun, and the long swim in the Parana River in Argentina. The only race I know of that USA Swimming sanctions is the national championships, no feeder series or anything.

    I know that a lot here don't really want FINA/USS/USMS overly involved in Open Water, and I certainly understand why, but I think it's a great sport, and think it would be great if it got closer to mainstream.

    IronMike
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    edited May 2017

    timsroot said:

    I know that a lot here don't really want FINA/USS/USMS overly involved in Open Water, and I certainly understand why, but I think it's a great sport, and think it would be great if it got closer to mainstream.

    Sounds like OW is ripe for a different organization...

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

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    IronMike said:

    Sounds like OW is ripe for a different organization...

    It probably is, but I don't know who is prepared to do it on a global scale. there has been talk and open letters and such about replacing FINA for administering pool swimming as well, but there hasn't been any action. I am not in a position, nor do I have the expertise to be the one to take action. MSF does a lot of good things, but I don't think it's at the scale to be such a global influence, nor do i get the impression that MSF leadership has the appetite to do such a thing. WOWSA has some influence, but their interests don't seem out of line with the interests of FINA, although they are more in favor of open water than FINA.

    With that being said, I don't think that the sport of marathon swimming is in a bad spot. While there are some politics, the impression I get from reading here and talking to some swimmers who have done big channel swims is that, for the most part, the independent organizations that sanction the various major swims around the world generally do a good job. In the case of NYC Swims recent difficulties, @david_barra and his group have stepped up and filled in the gap left, at least for Manhattan Circumnavigation, and I think some of the other swims that NYC Swim used to look after are being resurrected in one form or another.

    While I do think that further inclusion into FINA/USS/USMS would help get the sport closer to main stream, I'm aware that there would be certain downsides that would come about with that.

    evmo
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    timsroot said:

    IronMike said:

    Sounds like OW is ripe for a different organization...

    It probably is, but I don't know who is prepared to do it on a global scale. there has been talk and open letters and such about replacing FINA for administering pool swimming as well, but there hasn't been any action. I am not in a position, nor do I have the expertise to be the one to take action. MSF does a lot of good things, but I don't think it's at the scale to be such a global influence, nor do i get the impression that MSF leadership has the appetite to do such a thing. WOWSA has some influence, but their interests don't seem out of line with the interests of FINA, although they are more in favor of open water than FINA.

    With that being said, I don't think that the sport of marathon swimming is in a bad spot. While there are some politics, the impression I get from reading here and talking to some swimmers who have done big channel swims is that, for the most part, the independent organizations that sanction the various major swims around the world generally do a good job. In the case of NYC Swims recent difficulties, @david_barra and his group have stepped up and filled in the gap left, at least for Manhattan Circumnavigation, and I think some of the other swims that NYC Swim used to look after are being resurrected in one form or another.

    While I do think that further inclusion into FINA/USS/USMS would help get the sport closer to main stream, I'm aware that there would be certain downsides that would come about with that.

    Somewhat agree, but some comments.

    The World Swimming Association is trying to replace FINA, and for 5 bucks you can help them.

    No need to think in such a large scale at first. I'd be happy if the US had an equivalent to the British Long Distance Swimming Association. I'm here to help if anyone wants to take this on.

    There are different types of marathon swims. There are the organized, iconic (long) marathon swims (20 Bridges, Ederle, Catalina, Santa Barbara, StS, just to name some American ones) that all follow traditional rules. There are the solo swims that marathon swimmers set up themselves that follow EC rules.

    Then there are the in-betweens. That's my concern. These in-between events, the 5 to 10 milers, even some of the shorter ones (5K), these are the ones that I really wish didn't require wetsuits. These are the swims that our future marathon swimmers (and MSF members?) will do that'll perhaps get them hooked on this great sport. My fear, then, is that this population, however small it might start out to be, will come to more serious events with the idea that wetsuits and marathon swims are normal. Enough weight behind them and who knows how it'll impact our favorite swims.

    This is why I refuse to compete in swims that require wetsuits or don't differentiate between skins and suits in the results. I won't give them my money and I hope others won't either. But I think I'm in an ever-decreasing minority as these swims all seem to sell out. And when I see pictures from the swim start, all I see is wetsuit-city.

    wendyv34miklcct

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

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member

    @IronMike - I didn't realize World Swimming Association had come into being, that is a good thing to see. I agree with your points. I'm fortunate to have a race director in my area who puts on a couple 5ks a year, and while he markets a lot to triathletes (who are most of his coaching clients, and most of the swimmers in the area), he does differentiate between suits and skins (and, indeed, does not let wetsuited swimmers win awards at all).

    curlyIronMike
  • Karl_KingeryKarl_Kingery Denver, COSenior Member

    IronMike said:

    This is why I refuse to compete in swims that require wetsuits or don't differentiate between skins and suits in the results. I won't give them my money and I hope others won't either. But I think I'm in an ever-decreasing minority as these swims all seem to sell out. And when I see pictures from the swim start, all I see is wetsuit-city.

    I completely agree. I was at a clinic this last weekend that was put on by one of the local organizations here and the person who I was co-instructing with repeatedly kept touting the benefits of wetsuits. All of the new open water swimmers (most had never swum in a lake or river before) were having it drilled into their heads that a wetsuit is a necessity. She also included for a major portion of the whole class, the "how do I wear a wetsuit" lecture. I was more than happy without one (I was the only one) and tried to explain some of the negatives of wetsuits (less feel for the water, not the traditional way to swim, get knocked around more in rough weather, hyperthermia, considered cheating for marathon swims) to them, but if that is where the culture that we are living in is headed: I.E. the "wear a wetsuit or lose" or "wear a wetsuit and freeze to death" then it would be nice to try and reverse that trend. I completely agree that local swimming groups, lifeguards, triathlons, etc should all separate between wetsuits and skins and I fear that the "wetsuit city" is getting bigger faster than the "I enjoy swimming for the sake of swimming city".

    evmoIronMikelakespraydpm50
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    I have many notes in my Google Drive on my idea for an American or North American Long Distance Swimming Association. Anything from simply having a series a la the Global Swim Series, rewarding race directors that don't mandate wetsuits and differentiate results, giving points to swimmers, all the way up to a BLDSA-esque organization with its own swims. Dreams, am I right?!

    ViveBeneKarl_Kingery

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

  • evmoevmo VermontAdmin
    edited July 2017

    The Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean is (was?) one of the world's most historic and iconic marathon swims, and proving ground for many of our sport's greats - Abouheif, Greta Andersen, Phil Rush, Cindy Nicholas, Paul Asmuth, Jon Erikson, Claudio Plit, Petar Stoychev, Irene van der Laan, & others.

    Due to new FINA rules, it was wetsuit "optional" this year, for this first time in the event's 63-year history. Not surprisingly, almost everyone opted to suit up... all but one, Dania Belisle of Canada, who didn't even get an official time due to being "OTL" (over time limit).

    Sad!

    20414306_1387089981340963_5537381140697793511_o

    miklcct
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    FINA sucks

    evmoslknightjbsrlmIronMikelakespray

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • JaimieJaimie NYCMem​ber

    This is really sad. I don't think the athletes would choose to do this if they weren't basically forced to :(

    miklcct
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    Editorial from Outdoor Swimmer (formerly H2Open) on the unintended consequences of FINA's stupid wetsuit rule.

    I've almost given up on doing any UK-based OW swims. My first 10K was the Dart 10K in 2010, where I had to wear a wetsuit becuase I had no documented experience in cold water. Ironically, I then also had to fill out all the paperwork as if I was a skins swimmer because the wetsuit I had bought was a farmer john. That was the last time I ever wore a wetsuit. And I won't do events that either require them or don't separate the times skins vs. wetsuits.

    JaySoloKate_Alexander

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

  • miklcctmiklcct London, United KingdomMem​ber
    edited January 2020

    As a marathon swimmer who started this sport in 2018 after the FINA rule change, coming from a triathlon club and started OW swimming in the local winter, I have a completely different perspective that I agree a wetsuit is a standard piece of equipment used in cold water open water swimming, and the fact that we swim cold water without a suit is just a personal preference.

    The purpose of a wetsuit is to prevent getting too cold (hypothermia) in cold water swimming, which I totally agree especially when I saw someone who didn't have a wetsuit had to be pulled in a triathlon club training due to hypothermia on a sunny day in 19°C sea.

    The people in the local open water groups in Hong Kong start to put on wetsuit when the sea temperature falls below 24°C, and by the time when it reaches 19 - 20°C (late December / early January), basically everyone is in a suit apart from the very few who are described as "hardcore", and putting up / getting of the suit is a "photo moment".

    In terms of pro racing, the wetsuit rule now brings cold water and warm water marathon swimming to a comparable level. For example, I know a former Swedish national pool swimmer, Fredric, who just started OW swimming after moving to Hong Kong and he is a wetsuit swimmer in the Hong Kong winter (17 - 20°C sea temperature). He got near the top in the 5 km national open water championship last year. If not because of the FINA wetsuit rule, he likely wouldn't be there competing.

    To conclude, the existence of wetsuit, and wetsuit-legal races, have helped to made OW swimming to become a mass-participation sport which have brought many swimmers into the OW who otherwise won't, especially in countries like Canada, UK, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, etc., where the water temperature never exceeds 18°C even in the peak of summer. In contrast, wetsuits are never seen in places like Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, etc., where the sea is hot all year round, and a wetsuit definitely help those who moved from there to a colder place to continue open water swimming. The use of wetsuit over a standard swim suit in open water swimming is like using a smartphone over a dumbphone in communication, using a GPS in addition to paper map in hiking, i.e. technological advancement.

    The insistence of keeping to channel swimming rules, IMO, is fine if it is the essence of the sport, but it won't prevent another sport which allows the use of the wetsuit to develop (wetsuit-legal marathon swimming and triathlon) which clearly appeals to a wider range of audience. Another parallel example is that, we are only ever allowed to use a map and a compass in orienteering because map reading is the essence of the sport, but there are related sports which involve the use of GPS as well.

    And for the words of "marathon swimming" themselves, well, FINA has already taken them to mean the form of the sport developed to use a suit in cold water, and it will eventually make the way to the Olympics and the TV (not in 2020 though), and this trend I believe now is irreversible so I prefer to use different terms (e.g. channel swimming) for the sport which stick to the traditional channel rules.

    P.S. I also personally don't do races which is wetsuit mandatory or which does not clearly distinguish wetsuit / skin results, because 1) I don't have one and 2) I have no intention to get one since the water in Hong Kong isn't really that cold for me to use one and 3) wetsuit and skin are not fair comparison and 4) a wetsuit-optional race is effectively a wetsuit-mandatory race if you care about the rank, and in triathlon rules it will eventually lead me to overheat if it is still wetsuit legal in 21 - 24°C. However this is only my personal preference. Also, it's well known than a lot of channel pilots have "side businesses", I know someone who are a triathlete crossed the channel two times in a wetsuit (including once when he did Enduroman) but he has no intention to do a "proper" channel swim as he thinks that he is not fat.

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    edited January 2020

    Mike,

    I've got some issues with your comments.

    @miklcct said:
    The purpose of a wetsuit is to prevent getting too cold (hypothermia) in cold water swimming, which I totally agree especially when I saw someone who didn't have a wetsuit had to be pulled in a triathlon club training due to hypothermia on a sunny day in 19°C sea.

    Some would say this person, if s/he had acclimatized to the cold water first, might have had no problems in 19C water.

    In terms of pro racing, the wetsuit rule now brings cold water and warm water marathon swimming to a comparable level. For example, I know a former Swedish national pool swimmer, Fredric, who just started OW swimming after moving to Hong Kong and he is a wetsuit swimmer in the Hong Kong winter (17 - 20°C sea temperature). He got near the top in the 5 km national open water championship last year. If not because of the FINA wetsuit rule, he likely wouldn't be there competing.

    Why do cold water and warm water marathon swimming need to be at a comparable level? Why shouldn't "Fredric" acclimatize to the 'cold' water like others? Why is it expected that because he was a nat'l pool swimmer that he should place near the top in the 5k immediately? Pool swimming and open water are two different sports. Would you or Fredric expect a top placing open water swimmer to be top-8 in Hong Kong's national long course pool championships with no preparation?

    To conclude, the existence of wetsuit, and wetsuit-legal races, have helped to made OW swimming to become a mass-participation sport which have brought many swimmers into the OW who otherwise won't, especially in countries like Canada, UK, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, etc., where the water temperature never exceeds 18°C even in the peak of summer.

    A mass participation sport is one thing. FINA open water circuit is entirely something different. FINA should have never made the sport wetsuit legal.

    The use of wetsuit over a standard swim suit in open water swimming is like using a smartphone over a dumbphone in communication, using a GPS in addition to paper map in hiking, i.e. technological advancement.
    Another parallel example is that, we are only ever allowed to use a map and a compass in orienteering because map reading is the essence of the sport, but there are related sports which involve the use of GPS as well.

    The insistence of keeping to channel swimming rules, IMO, is fine if it is the essence of the sport, but it won't prevent another sport which allows the use of the wetsuit to develop (wetsuit-legal marathon swimming and triathlon) which clearly appeals to a wider range of audience.

    Fine. Let another sport develop. And triathlon has been wetsuit for a long time. And no, I don't agree with your analogy. Some of us like our dumbphones (skins) vs. the smartphone (wetsuit).

    I wonder how you would react if someone used a GPS during a national orienteering championship. Would you expect the championship to separate GPS from traditional orienteering results? How would you feel if they didn't? Would you stand by for the years it would take for the IOF to work through the kinks? Would you be happy if their solution was to allow everyone to use GPS if they want, map and compass if not, but keep results together? The EC, Catalina, North Channel, etc., wouldn't be the same if one could wear a wetsuit. When the option to be warmer in colder water and to have buoyancy is balanced against not having those things, then FINA marathon swimmers will choose the former rather than the latter. They do want to win after all.

    And for the words of "marathon swimming" themselves, well, FINA has already taken them to mean the form of the sport developed to use a suit in cold water, and it will eventually make the way to the Olympics and the TV (not in 2020 though), and this trend I believe now is irreversible so I prefer to use different terms (e.g. channel swimming) for the sport which stick to the traditional channel rules.

    FINA can define marathon swimming all they like. I prefer the MSF definition, along with the spirit of marathon swimming.

    P.S. I also personally don't do races which is wetsuit mandatory or which does not clearly distinguish wetsuit / skin results, because 1) I don't have one and 2) I have no intention to get one since the water in Hong Kong isn't really that cold for me to use one and 3) wetsuit and skin are not fair comparison and 4) a wetsuit-optional race is effectively a wetsuit-mandatory race if you care about the rank, and in triathlon rules it will eventually lead me to overheat if it is still wetsuit legal in 21 - 24°C. However this is only my personal preference.

    Finally, we agree on something.

    >

    Also, it's well known than a lot of channel pilots have "side businesses", I know someone who are a triathlete crossed the channel two times in a wetsuit (including once when he did Enduroman) but he has no intention to do a "proper" channel swim as he thinks that he is not fat.

    And this person, when asked, does he say he's a channel swimmer or that he swam The Channel? If yes, how long till he admitted to wearing a wetsuit?

    Copelj26KatieBunStLucia_ChannelLakeBaggerkejoyceflystorms

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

  • miklcctmiklcct London, United KingdomMem​ber
    edited January 2020

    @IronMike said:
    Mike,

    I've got some issues with your comments.

    Some would say this person, if s/he had acclimatized to the cold water first, might have had no problems in 19C water.

    I have no opinion about your comment about acclimation.

    Why do cold water and warm water marathon swimming need to be at a comparable level? Why shouldn't "Fredric" acclimatize to the 'cold' water like others? Why is it expected that because he was a nat'l pool swimmer that he should place near the top in the 5k immediately? Pool swimming and open water are two different sports. Would you or Fredric expect a top placing open water swimmer to be top-8 in Hong Kong's national long course pool championships with no preparation?

    It's unfortunate that Fredric didn't participate in the 10 km national championship which is held in warmer season and non wetsuit legal. Fredric has also won the 800 m long course pool competition in his age group as well (there is no 1500 m race in that competition). He has also won the clean half and the cold half marathon swimming races, the latter in wetsuit category.

    Moreover, former national pool swimmers winning OW races and smashing records are common enough so this is actually sort of expected to me. Alex Fong smashed the round HK course record by nearly 2 hours! (an analogy will be a UK Olympic pool swimmer smashing the Channel record in just a few months starting OW swimming - although Alex rounded HK in a warm season when the temperature was 26°C)

    I have no opinion if cold water marathon swimming and warm water marathon swimming need to be at a comparable level - FINA has made it true by the establishment of the wetsuit rule. And there is a sport which handling the cold is considered an integral part of it - called ice swimming.

    A mass participation sport is one thing. FINA open water circuit is entirely something different. FINA should have never made the sport wetsuit legal.
    I wonder how you would react if someone used a GPS during a national orienteering championship. Would you expect the championship to separate GPS from traditional orienteering results? How would you feel if they didn't? Would you stand by for the years it would take for the IOF to work through the kinks? Would you be happy if their solution was to allow everyone to use GPS if they want, map and compass if not, but keep results together? The EC, Catalina, North Channel, etc., wouldn't be the same if one could wear a wetsuit. When the option to be warmer in colder water and to have buoyancy is balanced against not having those things, then FINA marathon swimmers will choose the former rather than the latter. They do want to win after all.

    Well you have mentioned the FINA swimmers actually want wetsuits, right? That means even the top swimmers in our sport accept that the ability to handle the cold isn't part the sport. In orienteering, the ability to read map and compass is considered an integral part of the sport so no one accepts using GPS in races. However the rules are also amended recently such that GPS watches which do not have a map display are allowed in races for recording purposes because we have agreed that the training benefit such devices can provide.

    Moreover, Gibraltar keeps full sets of separate official records for non-wetsuit and wetsuit crossings. We all agree that non-wetsuit and wetsuit records should be separate, but do you think we should start keeping official records of EC / Catalina / North Channel / etc. for wetsuit crossings?

    Also, it's well known than a lot of channel pilots have "side businesses", I know someone who are a triathlete crossed the channel two times in a wetsuit (including once when he did Enduroman) but he has no intention to do a "proper" channel swim as he thinks that he is not fat.

    And this person, when asked, does he say he's a channel swimmer or that he swam The Channel? If yes, how long till he admitted to wearing a wetsuit?

    I asked if he has done a "proper" channel swimming (as I already knew he crossed the channel in a suit in Enduroman) and he said that he has swum the channel in a wetsuit for a couple of times, and I ask if he want to do it in standard costume he won't. I chatted with him as I know he is preparing for an upcoming round HK swim as well and he has a triathlete background, although I know he has removed the cold out of the equation he can still provide me valuable guidance in swimming the channel.

    @swimmer25k said:
    Peloton-style pack swimming on a rowing course over a 10K (25K is the true international marathon distance) has always been somewhat lame to me IMO.

    What makes open water marathon swimming (versus closed course BS) so great are the intangibles like: weather, temperature, waves, getting a manowar wrapped around your head, and about how tough you can be. I was a nobody in the pool, but did pretty good because I was more willing to be cold, miserable, and fight the pain more than most over an 8-hour swim.

    Well this is also different to my view on marathon swimming - I am always expecting the former when I decide to become a marathon swimmer, and the latter are something which I will get scared and don't want to deal with.

    So it seems that, after reading thread and your response, we are taking the term "marathon swimming" to have slightly different meaning. You and the other people in this thread take the term to a traditionalist setting of using only standard channel costume and consider the acclimation (to the condition) is part of the sport, but I and FINA takes the term to mean "long distance open water swimming" only which caters to a wider audience.

    @IronMike said:
    Good Christ. This will have ripple effects.

    You're true, the effect has been shown by my response showing my expectation as a new swimmer entered the sport only after the rule change. This is really really interesting.

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    edited January 2020

    @miklcct said: Well you have mentioned the FINA swimmers actually want wetsuits, right? That means even the top swimmers in our sport accept that the ability to handle the cold isn't part the sport.

    I most certainly did NOT say that. I said that they will wear them because to not wear them against their competition would be stupid. FINA basically forced them to wear wetsuits.

    @miklcct said: In orienteering, the ability to read map and compass is considered an integral part of the sport so no one accepts using GPS in races.

    Wind, waves and sunburn used to be "considered...integral" to marathon swimming, as well. I didn't ask what IOF's rules were now, I asked you how you would feel if IOF allowed GPS? It was a hypothetical. However you would feel being beat by someone who used a GPS (w/map display) instead of map/compass is probably how many of us feel being beaten in our age/sex groups by wetsuit-clad swimmers. I lost a first place finish in a 2-mile race last summer to two wetsuit-clad swimmers because the race organizers told me they couldn't separate results. Amazingly, the same org hosted a 5k a week later and magically were able to separate results.

    @miklcct said: but do you think we should start keeping official records of EC / Catalina / North Channel / etc. for wetsuit crossings?

    I'm saying exactly the opposite.

    FINA came around after marathon swimming became a sport. I would hazard a guess that there are more marathon swims in the world every year than there are FINA marathon swims. So to say that FINA defines what marathon swimming is, well, I don't agree with their definition. I think many here in the MSF are in the same camp.

    Copelj26mke84flystorms

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

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member
    edited January 2020

    @miklcct said:
    The purpose of a wetsuit is to prevent getting too cold (hypothermia) in cold water swimming, which I totally agree especially when I saw someone who didn't have a wetsuit had to be pulled in a triathlon club training due to hypothermia on a sunny day in 19°C sea.

    Not the only purpose, for some of us swim purist, the use of a wetsuit and it's flotation assistance is much more egregious then the warmth factor. The best analogue I can find is the use of hidden electric motors in bicycling races. Swimmers spend years focusing in on getting body position correct, yet one can put on a wetsuit and have instant perfect body position as the suit floats the hips and legs, making them significantly faster then they would be without it or allowing them to bypass years of practice. Additionally I would argue there has been strong growth in purism in many endurance sports. The Barkley Marathon, as pure as it gets, in running has a cult like following. Additionally, the MSF and virtually all of the channel swimming associations have zero affiliation with FINA, it's like they don't even exist. In my opinion, FINA is a corrupt association just like many other Olympic sport associations.

    evmoKatieBunCopelj26IronMike
  • evmoevmo VermontAdmin
    edited January 2020

    In my view it's no longer appropriate to think of FINA racing and solo marathon swimming (ultra swimming) as the same sport. Swimming 8 laps of a 1.25km buoy course in a rowing basin has about as much in common with a channel crossing as the Chicago Marathon has with the Barkley or Badlands. There's almost no overlap in participation. The rules are different. Indeed, I'd argue the top athletes in each sport are not even competitive at the top end of the other one. I do not think even a single swimmer in next year's Olympic 10K could do a 4-way English Channel, even if you gave them 2 years to train for it.

    kejoyceKatieBundavid_barragregocCopelj26flystormsSwimmersuzIronMikeslknightrosemarymintcurlyrlmmiklcct
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member

    FINA
    For Individuals Not Acclimated

    evmoKatieBunCopelj26lakespraySwimmersuzmiklcctIronMikeslknightcurlydpm50

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • abeabe australiaMember
    edited January 2020

    Marathon swimming enjoy the personal challenge - I work off no watch, no thinking and no wetsuit and how far I can swim. Simple process - off to the pool now to continue the process. Keep cool and chill out

    smithAzskidpm50
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member

    @abe said:
    Marathon swimming enjoy the personal challenge - I work off no watch, no thinking and no wetsuit and how far I can swim. Simple process - off to the pool now to continue the process. Keep cool and chill out

    The most fun I had in 2019 (besides Swim the Suck) was working on my cold water acclimatization. Look at my log and no one would be impressed by the times or distances, but I was ecstatic when I did 34 minutes in 51F. Best day ever!

    KatieBunCopelj26lakesprayAzskidpm50

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

  • AzskiAzski ArizonaMember

    @abe said:Marathon swimming enjoy the personal challenge - I work off no watch, no thinking and no wetsuit and how far I can swim. Simple process.

    @ironmike said: Look at my log and no one would be impressed by the times or distances, but I was ecstatic when I did 34 minutes in 51F. Best day ever!

    @abe and @ironmike, these are the type of comments that remind me what's really important and why I love Marathon swimming and why I'll always stay involved with this community wether I'm actually swimming or not(interest or identity?).
    We all find our personal inspiration, some like to compete, others want personal challenge (psychological/physical/physiological), some of us look for adventure wether extreme or not(what are your goals?) I love the challenge of a cold swim in the 55'F lake in the winter and if I can't find a safety kayaker, I might wear my wetsuit for safety, and I'll swim conservative and have my mini adventure, and feel alive and revived and more in touch with the natural world.
    These last comments from @abe and @ironmike could be the start of a positive new thread. But I don't know how to do that.
    Peace all...

    Copelj26Bridgetdpm50
  • miklcctmiklcct London, United KingdomMem​ber

    @evmo said:
    Swimming 8 laps of a 1.25km buoy course in a rowing basin

    This was actually my first impression of what marathon swimming is, coming from a triathlon background.

    I do not think even a single swimmer in next year's Olympic 10K could do a 4-way English Channel, even if you gave them 2 years to train for it.

    What's your reasoning behind this? In the past I believed pool swimming and open water swimming were very different, but after what Alex Fong has done I no longer believe so - I now believe that good pool swimming translates to good marathon swimming with not much open water specific training.

    Alex Fong was an Olympian in 2000 and still holds unbroken national records in some pool swimming disciplines. After 19-year break in his swimming career, he decided to do a round-HK charity swim (~45 km, in traditional channel rules) in November 2019. He still mainly trained in the pool and only started open water swimming 3 months ago, and won the Clean Half by a great margin as part of his build-up to the round HK swim. He finally broke the round-HK course record by nearly 2 hours and became the first local to complete this epic swim.

    Although it is not the English Channel, they are so similar (the round-HK swim is rough and choppy, slightly longer than the channel and also with strong tidal current as well), so I believe it is a reasonable comparison and it is very possible, given 2 years of training, for him to build up from 45 km to multiple channel distances, or multiple circumnavigations of Hong Kong if he wants to do it!

    Bridget
  • evmoevmo VermontAdmin
    edited February 2020

    @miklcct said:

    @evmo said:
    I do not think even a single swimmer in next year's Olympic 10K could do a 4-way English Channel, even if you gave them 2 years to train for it.

    What's your reasoning behind this? In the past I believed pool swimming and open water swimming were very different, but after what Alex Fong has done I no longer believe so - I now believe that good pool swimming translates to good marathon swimming with not much open water specific training.

    Good swimming is good swimming, whether pool or open water. But swimming the EC 4 ways is about good swimming AND being able to continue swimming for 2-3 days AND being able to tolerate cold water for that long (AND many other factors outside the swimmer's control). The physical and mental endurance required to swim more than 48 hours is completely unrelated to an elite pool swimming background or participation in FINA races. It takes years to build, and even then, most will fail.

    IronMikerlmcurlyPasqualeCopelj26angel55kejoycedpm50wendyv34
  • abeabe australiaMember

    @evmo said:

    @miklcct said:

    @evmo said:
    I do not think even a single swimmer in next year's Olympic 10K could do a 4-way English Channel, even if you gave them 2 years to train for it.

    What's your reasoning behind this? In the past I believed pool swimming and open water swimming were very different, but after what Alex Fong has done I no longer believe so - I now believe that good pool swimming translates to good marathon swimming with not much open water specific training.

    Good swimming is good swimming, whether pool or open water. But swimming the EC 4 ways is about good swimming AND being able to continue swimming for 2-3 days AND being able to tolerate cold water for that long (AND many other factors outside the swimmer's control). The physical and mental endurance required to swim more than 48 hours is completely unrelated to an elite pool swimming background or participation in FINA races. It takes years to build, and even then, most will fail.

    4 EC should not get a comment in this - that is just not possible although someone/somewhere will be planning a 5 way as I type

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