Diana Nyad's Directional "Streamer"



  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin
    edited February 2013
    Pilots or experienced Channel crew will tell you that in the latter part of a swim, swimming south-east on the ebb tide, the swimmer may inadvertently catch a glimpse of the Cap. Let's assume this occurs at 12+ hours. At some point thereafter quite a lot of swimmers will, without any forethought, take off for France. After all they can see it's there, not where the boat is going. They swim directly to what they can see, Wissant, Sandettie, Blanc Nez.

    Now not everyone does it. The fastest swimmers are unlikely to do it because they are in the water less time. It seems in fact to be a subconscious act and is likely to be directly related to swim time or tiredness. The pilot and crew then have to corral the swimmer, not always easy to bring them back to the boat, when they are swimming directly away from the boat at 90 degrees, in a reverie, and with ear plugs. I've been in the situation as crew where this has happened me ( a couple of times), and the most important part is, the pilot couldn't change course to go after the swimmer without risking significant extra time on the swim. In one case where the swimmer was maybe 50 metres out from boat and still going, the pilot said that if he changed course to go after the swimmer, we'd get swept around Blanc Nez, and were looking at 45 minutes to 90 minutes extra swim time.

    In this situation a directional streamer would be huge aid to pilot and crew, and thereby swimmer of course and could reduce swim time, or to be more precise, would reduce the possibility of incurring extra swim time.

    It wouldn't guarantee the situation wouldn't arise but while many of us have I'm sure, swum smack into the end of the lane on a 20k pool session through forgetting to stop, suddenly swimming sideways into the lane line is not something I've yet done anyway.

    The directional streamer would visually reinforce the swimmer's goal to maintain direction. Remember that this occurrence seems related to extended swim time, so its utility is therefore greater in long swims such as Diana Nyad's.

    Edit; typos

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  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited February 2013
    JonML said:

    In what way is a directional streamer a swim aid? It doesn't touch the swimmer, isn't supportive, doesn't provide warmth, flotation, or propulsion. I've read the comments above about it possibly impacting the flow of water and I'm deeply skeptical. Besides, if it were found to do so, couldn't it be simply submerged further so it didn't?

    There's a clichéd saying about open water swimming: "No Lanelines, No Walls." With a streamer, there are, effectively, lanelines. A more precise analogy would be: the black line on the bottom of the pool.

    One of the built-in challenges of open water swimming is navigation. Or, in the case of an escorted solo swim: maintaining a consistent distance from the escort vessel. A streamer negates this challenge; therefore it's a swim aid.

    I am perfectly capable of swimming straight in flat open water. On my Santa Barbara Channel swim last year, I was being constantly buffeted by waves and chop, and was disoriented by the darkness. It was a constant struggle to maintain a consistent distance from my pilot boat, and I ended up swimming significantly further than the official distance. A streamer would have been incredibly beneficial, and would have saved a lot of time and frustration for both swimmer and crew. But streamers are prohibited by the SBCSA, and I wouldn't feel right about using one, anyway.

    Then there's the issue of regulation. If we allowed streamers, would we then need to define limits on their size? Current streamers may not provide much draft, but what if someone wants to use a bigger "streamer" that effectively "moves water" in front of the swimmer?

    I have no problem with Tsugaru swimmers using a streamer, as a "local exception" to the rules (similar to neoprene caps on Farallon swims). They can decide how to deal with the "streamer size/dimensions" issue... or not.

    Hell, if the first Cuba-Florida swimmer uses a streamer, then I suppose that's their prerogative as the "first." There's no sanctioning body to say otherwise.

    But we should be under no illusions that streamers aren't a swim aid. They are a substantial aid.
  • edited February 2013
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Excellent highlight on the skill
    Of the pilot too. There are sufficient swim aides already. We don't want any more.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited May 2013
    @KarenT recently gave a fascinating academic talk covering this debate and the Brittany King debate. It has been preserved for posterity on an mp3 podcast:


    The talk is called: ""We cannot let up until our sport is purified": marathon swimming and the troubled boundaries of authenticity"

    Well worth everyone's time to listen. Great work, Karen!
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