I've been watching the pictures from the last swim in Cancún, "El Cruce" and a lot of people are using the orange bags by Swim Secure, are they really incrementing security in a 10 kms swim??? is it recommended to use them???
I live in Cape town south Africa and we've been told that we have to swim with one of the devices for all swim events longer than 1.6km in the ocean
I boycott events that require those. In general, I believe it's a Band-Aid for event directors who don't want to invest in adequate lifeguard coverage, meaning: eyes on every swimmer, 100% of the time. Yes, that's expensive, but not as costly as having someone die at your event. A float will not save an unconscious swimmer, although it might make recovering the body faster.
The municipality that I work for requires a 30-second response to recognize and rescue a victim in distress, whether that victim is active or passive. If a lifeguard isn't scanning his/her entire area of responsibility every 10 seconds, that standard is nearly impossible to meet.
Brain damage begins around 2 minutes without oxygen. In open water, where extracting a victim from the water can be much more complicated and could easily take that long, the need for nearly instantaneous recognition of a problem becomes apparent.
If you choose to boycott an event (for whatever reason) it's important to let the race director know why.
It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.
I love it when I'm swimming in OW alone. I wear it and make sure I've got a very visible swim cap (yellow MSF or orange Speedo cap). More visibility the better. Haven't swum an event yet that requires it, although some of the Russian events I'm planning on swimming this summer will require it, so I'll let you know what i think in a few weeks.
I remember doing the End-Wet swim a few years ago and it was the only way whoever was in charge of the river would allow the race to go because of the high water level. After booking a long flight, hotel and training for what I figured would be a ten plus hour swim I had no problem wearing one.
I also drag one when I am swimming alone along with my gold MSF cap.
I think they are an excellent training tool, especially for anyone who has no alternative other than to train alone...however, when I spend $100 or more to enter an event, I expect adequate safety coverage.
In the event I mentioned this was not the RD trying to save a few bucks. He reached a compromise with the powers that be so that we could swim. Travel and lodging alone were much more than entry fee. It was more about being able to attempt the long swim that I trained for than the money and I was thankful the RD was able to make it happen.
I doubt I would sign up for most events that would require one. If it is a course I want to swim and someone else is organizing but requires the float, I would probably do it. We always have option to plan our own swims and go without one. While some events with large participation may be money makers, I often wonder how some RD's aren't losing money. If it weren't for their countless hours and volunteer support I am sure they would. If they are organizing event it is their call.
I think you may be correct that for some shorter events it may be a band aid but it is not the norm from my experience particularly in marathon distance events.
I am not one to worry too much about most things but there have been events where I could have used one.
The primary reason for me using one is visibility to boaters. If there isn't boat traffic, I don't think you need one.
I did a 10K in Pensacola, FL in 2010 before these floats were popular. It was the first time for the 10K event and there were long periods where I saw no support but other boaters were present. We were all fortunate that there were no close calls but it was dangerous. I am not sure how much the float would have helped but it sure would have made me feel better that day in the middle of that bay.
I don't see the problem with a visibility device. It can be easy to loose sight of a swimmer in ocean chop or foul weather. Safety first.
Twice during a 15k event I was nearly run over by speed boats with all crew over the stern picking up relay swimmers - really scary, however an orange float wouldn't have saved me as no one was looking out for swimmers in front. Crew training/briefings are important.
I'm warming up to these floats and they come in pretty handy. I have a newwaveswimbouy.com and one from the ISHOF. I took me a year just to try them. A big added plus is they make it much easier to see or find your mates in the water and know where they are. I swim along a Florida beach with a fair amount of fisherman and boat traffic.
I really like mine for training swims. I'm less happy with the idea of needing to wear them for a race or organized swim - to me a proper safety plan means I don't need the buoy. I'm definitely voting with my dollars in terms of avoiding races where they're required (which, sniff, means I am not doing the newly restarted Nubble Light swim in Maine despite how much I loved that race the first time).