Not to start World War III, but...

edited November 2012 in General Discussion
In the video section, there is a video of Trent Grimsey breaking the EC record. During part of the video he is clearly on the bow wave of his escort boat. Isn't that considered drafting off the boat and therefore illegal? (Kind of like a giant-sized version of the draft you get from swimming very close to someone's else side and with your head at about their waist.)

Don't kill me.

-LBJ

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
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Comments

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    edited October 2012
    That's legal during Channel crossings. It's even considered stupid if you don't take that advantage.

    The FINA rules during FINA races are more strict. RULES
    OWS 6.4 Escort safety craft shall manoeuver so as not to obstruct or place themselves directly ahead of any swimmer and not take unfair advantage by pacing or slip streaming.

    OWS 6.5 Escort safety craft shall attempt to maintain a constant position so as to station the swimmer at, or forward of, the mid point of the escort safety craft.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited October 2012
    I'm with Niek.

    A day after Trent's swim when I was describing it, I was speaking with a CSA swimmer in Dover, who tried to make the case that Trent's use of jammers, taping his swimcap to his head, and riding the bow wave were all illegal. It seemed an attempt to denigrate the CS&PF to me and note, I have nothing against CSA swimmers.

    I ran the person out of it. If I was fast enough to ride a bow wave I would. And to be frank almost anyone who's ever swum the Channel has ridden a bow wave as the boats move forward and back and the swimmer's position changes. For most of us it is an accident and we are there no more than a few seconds, and usually not aware of it.

    If you read my report of Trent's swim, you'll see that this was clearly indicated. And for the handful of people to whom I'm shown the briefing video, it was explicitly at Mike Oram's instruction.
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Charter Member
    Touching a human being disqualifies you, but it's okay to draft off the boat? Deliberately? It's hard to believe those rules inspire so much pride about the purity of the sport.

    If it's allowed, then Trent would be silly not to do it in his record attempt. Just like in a triathlon, you have to wear a wetsuit because everyone else does.
  • Hmmm....

    I guess it still strikes me as odd or at least inconsistent. If the swimmer were to swim directly behind the boat and draft that way, would it be legal? Or swimming in a shark cage? They both have the same net effect as swimming in the bow wave, albeit to differing degrees of magnitude.

    As long as it's legal, then I propose that it be done to maximum benefit: Instead of a fishing-type boat, use a tug boat and attach a very large, adjustable snow plow blade to the front. Now we're talking a bow wave.

    -LBJ
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited October 2012
    Swimming behind the boat is not legal. Not is swimming behind another swimmer. And a shark cage is also considered assisted swimming. I propose the only difference here to at least some previous attempts, is that you can see video of this swim.

    Reg Brickell of the CSA is considered by many the most experienced pilot. He also has the largest boat. Viking Princess provides more significantly shelter to a swimmer on the leeward side than other boat in the Channel fleet. CSA swimmers who look down on jammers don't equate that advantage. Surely, if you want to quibble, GPS Navigation, modern goggles, non-wool swimsuits and maltodextrin should also be disallowed. Edit: (to be clear, I have no problem with CSA or Reg or Viking Princess, I've crewed on it and it's a great boat for swimmers, crew need to be ... experienced).
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    WaterGirl said:

    Touching a human being disqualifies you, but it's okay to draft off the boat? Deliberately? It's hard to believe those rules inspire so much pride about the purity of the sport.

    This is the reason that I make sure to swim slowly enough to avoid any such advantage... forcing my pilot to spend much of the time in neutral.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    Swimming behind a boat or any other object can be look at as slipstreaming => illegal by FINA rules
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • Out of all the allowable things, swimming in the lee of the boat is a huge benefit. Maybe a rule change that forces the boat to stay double its length away from the swimmer. But getting rid of the support boat completely...........now that would make every swim a real challenge. Goodness, all long distance swims are easy when you consider you can get out any time you want. Where's the challenge in that?

    What we need are a few swims that can be undertaken without support. In England, Portland to Lyme Regis would be good. 20 miles swam just off shore. No boat, but you just swim ashore if you can't finish. No feeds, would also make even a ten mile swim a whole new ball game. ie Lulworth Cove to Weymouth, swimming ashore also a little more difficult due to cliffs. Or the standard Torbay swim, 4 miles straight across the bay, if you don't make it, you drown. But, I hear you say, we can all do 20 miles, so whats the problem with an unescorted 4 miles? Yet none of us would dream of doing it.

    Why not? I ask.
  • I've done an unescorted 9.6k, twice. Just sayin' :-)
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    The rules of the Catalina Classic paddleboard race are instructive. From Section VI:

    3. Paddlers shall at no time be any closer to the stern(s) of escort vessel(s) than 100 yards.

    (a) No drafting of any kind will be allowed by boat or paddler, to aid or hinder another paddler.

    (b) When paddling alongside escort the paddler must maintain open water of no less than 20 feet; exception – when accepting nourishment which must be concluded within 2 minutes alongside the vessel(s) and not the stern.

    4. Each paddler shall at all times during the race maintain a minimum distance of five (5) feet from his pilot boat.
  • For the record, I am not disparaging Mr. Grimsey, his swim, his world record, any boat or its captain, any federation or its observers, England, France, or the English Channel. Likewise, I am not talking trash about anyone's race, religion, color, gender, country of origin or residence, sexual/gender orientation, or what they had for breakfast.

    I accept that the swim was done in a manner consistent with what is currently defined as a legal swim and is, therefore, THE RECORD.

    However, I am trying to point out that allowing a person to use the bow wave of a boat is wildly inconsistent with the rules about drafting behind the boat or a shark cage, etc, etc, etc. It IS drafting or slipstreaming or whatever you want to call it, at least it is if we all agree on the laws of Newtonian physics and hydrodynamics. Therefore, I humbly suggest that the various governing bodies change their rules to exclude riding the bow wave for future swims.

    -LBJ
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • Unescorted swims are great aren't they. Open crossings of large bays, two miles from the nearest shore (which may be against the current anyway). Then comes a couple miles of sheer cliff and a mile or two into the sandy beach in time for breakfast.

    Or for the same distance, a two way Lake Bala with a kayak support and lakeside a few seconds away. Which will you choose?

    I say again, lets find the new swims and leave the support vessels in the harbour.
  • I believe that the peer pressure of social media may inspire more "clean" swims. What if we made a generic swim report template? Swimmers could voluntarily fill it in, sign it, and upload it to a central space. Not filling it in for a major swim would simply look sketchy. Heck, we could even put a volunteer committee together to grade the "cleanliness".
    - A clean swim could be an A.
    - A minor violation (swimming withan mp3 player) could be a B.
    - A single "major" violation (drafting off the boat) could be a C.

    Perhaps social media could do more to bring swims into alignment than the control-freakery/adherance to tradition ever could. :)
  • AND, this would be an excellent way to document swims and built a modern history of OWS. :)
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    @Jamie raises some interesting and important points here:

    http://adventureswimmer.com/2012/10/25/confused/
  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    Kudos to @jamie for speaking up. I have to admit, I agree with him.
  • Wholeheartedly agree with LbJ and Jamie.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    edited October 2012
    I agree with Jamie and I don't.
    Where does the influence of the boat stops. It's not only the bow wave that drags the swimmer along. The bigger the boat the bigger the water displacement and the bigger the influence the boat has around her.

    Now we can't have the swimmer 100 yards or more from the boat in the dark can we? That would jeopardize the safety of the swimmer and that's what the boat is there for in the first place. And if we allow it in the dark at what time is it light enough to disallow it?

    Now if the swimmers has to stay near the boat because of the safety (and the feeds) and the boat is influencing the swimmer one can as well legalize that influence and let the swimmer take as much advantage of it as he can. In a pool you don't tell a swimmer to only touch the wall with fingertips and disallow the kickoff with their feet.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • JamieJamie Member
    edited October 2012
    Common sense says that there is a safe distance from the boat to swim.

    Common Sense also says that that purposefully utilizing the bow wake to your advantage is not in the spirit of marathon swimming.
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    Well, I have to say that I agree that if riding the bow wave increases speed then it should be illegal. I think the lack of outrage is complicated by the fact that few of us have ever experienced any such bow ride so... its rather hard to quantify any advantage gained. Another factor I believe is this: the gentleman piloting this record swim is himself a legend and has been perhaps the most sought after EC pilot for decades. Perhaps this little perk is only available to such a small fraction of the marathon swimming population that it should be a non-issue... same with stinger suits?



    For the record, I am opposed to the use of devices that increase speed or comfort.... having said that, I'm not sure that common sense plays any role in marathon swimming.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Charter Member

    Another factor I believe is this: the gentleman piloting this record swim is himself a legend and has been perhaps the most sought after EC pilot for decades. Perhaps this little perk is only available to such a small fraction of the marathon swimming population that it should be a non-issue]

    Dave! Really?

    If I understand correctly, a person should be disqualified for a hug on the French coast. As a matter of religion.

    But, if they have the connections and good fortune to qualify for a boost that would make them swim faster and help them beat the record, it's okay? As long as we're not talking your standard, available-to-the-public neoprene.

    p.s. If you've spent any time in Latin America, you know that hugs, kisses and handshakes don't make you faster. In fact, they slow you down. They tend to double the amount it takes to do anything.

  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    edited October 2012
    I'm happy to go on record as anti bow wave riding as I was happy to go on record as anti stinger suit. I thought this was rather clear, but I don't expect unanimous or even majority support on these positions from the MS community, and I imagine that many folks wont go on the record one way or the other for some of the reasons that I stated in my last post .

    I will say that there won't be any bow riding in any event that I direct!
    WaterGirl said:


    But, if they have the connections and good fortune to qualify for a boost that would make them swim faster and help them beat the record, it's okay? As long as we're not talking your standard, available-to-the-public neoprene.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • LynnkubLynnkub Member
    edited October 2012
    WaterGirl said:

    Touching a human being disqualifies you

    my understanding of this is not merely a touch (which may be accidental) but it has to be "supporting touch" to disqualify.

    I am also not good on the bow-drafting issue, which is a kind of supporting contact of fluids. Yay for records but Trent did an assisted-swim IMHO.
  • Personally, I have no issues with swimming in the bow wave of the boat. I happened to be on Trent's support boat during his Channel swim also, here is what I said to @loneswimmer (I hope you don't mind me posting this, Donal) in an e-mail this morning:

    Hmmm, it's certainly a very interesting question... When Mike mentioned it on the boat, I thought "that's interesting, didn't know you could do that, you'd have to be pretty fast to get any real benefit from it though." Afterwards, it was clear that Trent was fast enough to benefit from the bow wave, even if it did cause him to get a few mouthfuls of water!

    What are my opinions on it? Well, it's undeniable that it does cause some "assistance", but is it "wrong" to swim in the bow wave? I'm not sure. If you're going to have constant effective communication with your crew and feed very often, then you are forced to spend quite a bit of time in the bow wave. Even if you're just doing a "standard" swim, it's hard not be affected by the boat in any way: if you swim on the leeward side you get some shelter from the wind, if you swim on the windward side you get the reflected chop off the hull which is detrimental, if you swim astern you get the diesel fumes and are getting some drag from the boat. The only way not to be affected is to swim off the bow, and we all know that that's not a great idea!

    I guess it's just one of those "grey areas" in the sport that's always going to cause a bit of controversy...
    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)
  • The Trent thing makes me sad and is disheartening.

    Factually, Mike benefits more from saying he piloted two world record swims than saying he set one world record swim and came close once. Mike benefits from this.

    If it had been Diana Nyad surfing the bow wave, the talons would be out!

    IMHO, the rules of open water swimming should not depend on who you are. I don't recognize Trent's record.
  • KNicholasKNicholas ArizonaMember
    Can't say I'm a fan of the "bow wave ride" given the speed assistance to swimmers but I wouldn't mind playing with the idea when my kids get in the water. I guess in the world of record setting, envelopes get pushed, rules get created, more envelopes are pushed and then there are more rules . . . I got into open water swimming to leave the rules on the shore and swim (unassisted).
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    JenA said:

    I don't recognize Trent's record.

    Problem with that is, Trent wasn't the first to ride the bow wave.

    And the person before him - he wasn't the first, either.
  • Well, then @evmo, you're really painted me into a corner.

    All hail Captain Webb as holder of the fastest crossing! ;-)
  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Member
    edited October 2012

    Another factor I believe is this: the gentleman piloting this record swim is himself a legend and has been perhaps the most sought after EC pilot for decades. Perhaps this little perk is only available to such a small fraction of the marathon swimming population that it should be a non-issue... same with stinger suits?

    I understood from the nomination on here http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/276/call-for-nominations-solo-swim-of-the-year-male that Trent booked his EC slot 3 years ago and waited in the queue for his turn just like the rest of us.

    If I was to contact the same pilot now I am certain I could get a good slot for 3 years' time - as could the rest of us.

    Regardless of whether or not you agree with the principle of riding the bow-wave, I do think some of these comments are being overly harsh on Trent personally. I understand that he swam within EC rules. If the rules are under question then that's not Trent's fault!

    I only wish that I had been fast enough to ride the bow-wave on my own swim. As it happens I don't think I ever got anywhere near it ;-)
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    ZoeSadler said:

    Another factor I believe is this: the gentleman piloting this record swim is himself a legend and has been perhaps the most sought after EC pilot for decades. Perhaps this little perk is only available to such a small fraction of the marathon swimming population that it should be a non-issue... same with stinger suits?

    I understood from the nomination on here http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/276/call-for-nominations-solo-swim-of-the-year-male that Trent booked his EC slot 3 years ago and waited in the queue for his turn just like the rest of us.

    If I was to contact the same pilot now I am certain I could get a good slot for 3 years' time - as could the rest of us.

    Regardless of whether or not you agree with the principle of riding the bow-wave, I do think some of these comments are being overly harsh on Trent personally. I understand that he swam within EC rules. If the rules are under question then that's not Trent's fault!

    I only wish that I had been fast enough to ride the bow-wave on my own swim. As it happens I don't think I ever got anywhere near it ;-)
    No disrespect to Trent nor Mike Oram intended... nor was I suggesting that he somehow jumped the queue so let me clarify: By "perk" I meant that the vast majority of swimmers are unable (due to physical limitations) to benefit from a 7 hour ride on the bow wave.

    It appears that this is an allowable loophole that has been in place long before my own entry to the sport... but I think comparing this to wearing a wetsuit is quite dissimilar.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • Who says we need a support boat? Any escort boat from fishing trawler to kayak is akin to an assisted swim . Try doing a big swim without one and things look a whole lot tougher.

    Whilst the Channel swims and most others would disallow swims without support, I believe there is value on finding a regular swim that could offer 'unescorted' status.

    Alternatively, if you must have an escort boat, then what is wrong with swimming 100 yards away if you have a kayak too?


  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    No kayak (allowed) in the EC, Gibraltar strait, Beltequerung, IJsselmeer Marathon, Strait Cook, Tsugaru Channel to name a few.
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • bobswimsbobswims Charter Member
    If you can swim along the side of the boat and catch the bow wave, why can't you draft alongside a pace swimmer where one is allowed in the water? It is hard to draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not. Having the boat act like a shield from wind and chop definitely offers the swimmer some assistance, but this has always been allowed as far as I know.
  • JenAJenA Member
    edited October 2012
    I feel like there's an easy way to level the playing field here, and it's contained in this thread:

    http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/284/voluntary-reporting-of-a-swim-the-peer-pressure-of-social-media-inspiring-cleaner-swims


    In short, we create an international database where swims can be logged, and swimmers voluntarily describe their swims. So that if you're a swimmer that can ride the bow wave, and you did so, then you say so. You OWN it. You stand up before the world and say, "Yeah, that was my swim. Those were my decisions, and I stand by them."

    Wear a wetsuit? Own it. Hire two supertankers to create two protected bow waves so you can slice you way to France? Say so. No mamby-pamby discussion about how the rules didn't prohibit it, ergo it's OK.

    It's all about pride. And if you're ok riding the bow wave, you shouldn't have a problem saying so.


    Jen
  • In short, we create an international database where swims can be logged, and swimmers voluntarily describe their swims. So that if you're a swimmer that can ride the bow wave, and you did so, then you say so. You OWN it. You stand up before the world and say, "Yeah, that was my swim. Those were my decisions, and I stand by them."

    Wear a wetsuit? Own it. Hire two supertankers to create two protected bow waves so you can slice you way to France? Say so. No mamby-pamby discussion about how the rules didn't prohibit it, ergo it's OK.

    It's all about pride. And if you're ok riding the bow wave, you shouldn't have a problem saying so.

    @JenA, surely this only applies for swims outside of the jurisdiction of any of the governing bodies? An English Channel swimmer should not have to fill out as we already know what the rules of their swim were, i.e. the rules of the CSA or CS&PF! For the record, Trent has had no issues whatsoever in describing every detail of his swim exactly as it happened!
    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)
  • JenAJenA Member
    edited October 2012
    @owenswims93: I would hope that every swimmer would be inspired to document their swim publicly. Diana Nyad had her swim documented too, remember? :-)

    As I understand it, the CSA has no rule prohibiting drafting off pacers. Heck, I think the guideline about a pacer not entering the water for 2 hours, and then only pacing every other hour are in the pilot guidance section of the packet, not the official rules.

    In the absence of clarity, why *not* document the circumstances of every swim?

    My comments were not aimed at Trent.
  • @JenA, the CS&PF provide clarity on this in their rules. Swimmers are allowed to have "support" swimmers, not "pace" swimmers, and the swimmer cannot draft off of the support swimmer. Support swimmers are only permissible after the first three hours, can remain in the water for no longer than hour at a time and must remain out of the water for a period of at least one hour between support swims. These rules seem pretty clear to me.

    In this case, why should the swimmer need to "document" their swim publicly. They have swum within the rules, what else matters? Does the official Observer's Report count as "documentation" of the swim?
    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)
  • @owenswims93: Documenting swims publicly would both be inspiring and allow for fair comparison.

    Rules change, even in the English Channel. I remember seeing an "channel cap" that had bubbles in the silicone to provide further insulation from the cold. That cap is no longer allowed (perhaps no longer manufactured).

    If the goal of things is to keep the rules the same over time -- which hasn't happened -- why not document who did what?

    I bet there was a fascinating up-tick in performance when suits changed from wool to cotton, to nylon, to spandex, etc, and when carb loading became understood, and when GPS became available. I have serious respect for those swimmers who swam under different conditions and carried the day. Yet, their stories and details have been lost. Marilyn Bell, at age 16, did most of her 52 km Lake Ontario swim without googles. (!!) That detail is going to get lost with time.

    To honour those who swam before us under different conditions, to inspire the next generation of open water swimmers, to create a historical repository of swims, and to create greater networking and information flow amongst swimmers, I think documenting all swims in a database is a great idea.

    Why wouldn't it be?
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsMember
    edited October 2012

    @JenA IMHO, the rules of open water swimming should not depend on who you are. I don't recognize Trent's record.

    @JenA In the absence of clarity, why *not* document the circumstances of every swim?

    If it was documented would that change your feelings?
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • @Niek: For me, it would be a start. It's my personal opinion, but I would put the greatest value on the fastest swimmer who swam with the least assistance... whomever that may be! It's been suggested to me that Trent isn't the first to swim in the bow wave. How can we compare swims unless we know the details?

    Can you imagine how crushed and disrespected you'd feel if you swam the fastest swim under the "cleanest" conditions, and no one knew your name? That's sort of where we are now, isn't it? How awful is that? Minimal honour to those that have gone before us.

    I mean... Even Gertrude Ederle's swim (first woman, 1934) was done under controversy. To quote the Wikipedia reference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_successful_English_Channel_swimmers#cite_note-13)

    "On 16 August, The Westminster Gazette reported locals as saying that "Miss Ederle swam under the lea of one of the accompanying tugs" while another boat "navigated in such a manner as to keep the heavy seas and tides off her" and that "Miss Ederle was drawn along by the suction of the tug so that she was able to swim at about twice the speed she would have been able to swim under ordinary conditions."

    It's madness. I see a public database as providing new honour to the sport.
  • @JenA, you seem to have skirted around my point about Observer's Reports. Do these not count as documentation of the swim?
    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)
  • IronMikeIronMike Bishkek, KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    Can everyone see the observer reports? Didn't Steve Munatones mention once that some observer reports aren't public?
  • @IronMike, you are correct, not all Observer's Reports are public. If a swimmer would prefer to keep it private then that's their prerogative...
    http://fermoyfish.com – Owen O'Keefe (Fermoy, Ireland)
  • smithsmith Member
    edited October 2012
    evmo said:

    JenA said:

    I don't recognize Trent's record.

    Problem with that is, Trent wasn't the first to ride the bow wave.

    And the person before him - he wasn't the first, either.
    Did Stoychev, Wandratsch, & Kudinov do the same thing?

    Specifically what I'm getting at is that the above mentioned 3 EC swimmers are #2, #3, & #4 all time. #3, Kudinov, is within 10 minutes of Grimsey's time, and was dispatched on the same day (minutes behind actually) as #2 all-time, Stoychev. Stoychev is within 2 minutes of Grimsey's new world record. #3 all-time, Wandratsch, is within 8 minutes of Grimsey's record.

    If none of these swimmers rode the bow wave, Grimsey's new world record isn't erased and is certainly valid within the established rules, but it certainly raises questions because riding a bow wave for extended periods of time in a 34K swim would seem to make a significant difference vs. swimmers within a semblance of striking distance who did not.
    Lactate is for wimps.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited October 2012
    I've spent a long time on this issue over the past few days, trying to understand many aspects and I've published my long blog response. It address the difference between a bow and displacement wave, where we are were all wrong and most importantly why ALL English Channel swims are assisted and why this entire argument is based on false assumptions.

    There is NO issue.

    @JenA, you've implied a difference in how people here react to Diana Nyad vs Trent Grimsey. There is. Trent is the legal and fully observed and validated holder of the English Channel record, by CS&PF rules, in this case the exact same rule as the CSA rules, who did nothing different that any other channel swimmers, except swim faster than all of us. Diana Nyad has a record of incorrectly claiming swim records. You might want to read my section on Viking Princess therefore.

    It is the organisations which observe & validate & grant records, not individual swimmers. The CSA already says a lot of us here haven't swum the Channel, so it is morally compromised. The extent of that organisational compromise can be seen in other areas, such as the thread on MIMS qualification.

  • I've spent a long time on this issue over the past few days, trying to understand many aspects and I've published my long blog response. It address the difference between a bow and displacement wave, where we are were all wrong and most importantly why ALL English Channel swims are assisted and why this entire argument is based on false assumptions.

    There is NO issue.

    Let me gently disagree, but first a disclaimer: I'm not a physicist but my training is in mathematics and from that and reviewing the literature is where the following is derived.

    As far as the physics that you showed in your blog goes, it seems pretty good. However, a few things were potentially missing that might well affect the conclusion.
    1) Waves in water contain both transverse and longitudinal wave components. This means that you also can get a speed boost being at places behind the bow wave because the clockwise rotation of molecules causes a relative decrease in pressure on the back of the wave and subsequent increase still further back near the wave's trough.
    2) This would seem to imply that there are Bernoulli vortices in 2 dimensions that can be used to aid speed at that location.
    3) (This is fuzzy because I had to look at a ship building site, so if anyone can disabuse me of anything false I say here, please do so.) As to the influence of a bow/displacement wave away from a ship, it does not spread out quickly and it does dissipate with distance due to turbulence. My understanding is that in most situations the bow wave makes an angle of about 19.5 degrees from the direction the bow of the ship is travelling. That means that if a ship is n meters in length, and a swimmer is somewhere along the side of a boat, the greatest distance the bow wave is from the boat orthogonal to the direction of the boat is = n * sin(19.5) (or n * sin(0.340339) if you are working in radians and not degrees). So, for example, with a 10 meter long boat, that works out to (approx) 10 * .333806 = 3.33806. So if you are at a distance of greater than 3.34 meters from the boat, you can't be influenced by the bow/displacement wave as long as you are somewhere along the side of the boat.
    4) I am not sure if the Bernoulli flow effect around the hull extends out farther and/or what influence it might have, but at the speed most swimmers go, I'll guess it's insignificant.

    Assuming the above is true (and I am certainly willing to be proven wrong), then, in fact, it is quite likely that Mr. Grimsey WAS aided by the boat and that anyone swimming more that about 3 or 4 meters from the boat is NOT aided by the boat.

    Q.E.D. (?)

    That said, his IS still the certified by God record since it was performed under perfectly legal circumstances. I just hope that the various certifying authorities do away with the inconsistency and eliminate the practice in the future.

    -LBJ
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot
  • Thanks Leonard. I always listen to the science ... where I can understand it. And I realise that your raising this is a genuine question, and not just using it to try to deny Trent.

    Having battered my brain chasing false trails, I eventually fell back to a physicist friend who does part of his work in fluids. He gave me his initial response and didn't have time to write a more comprehensive one. He did say a couple of things that I don't have the background to pursue further and so I still have questions:

    1) Aren't Bernoulli forces are low speeds extremely weak on irregularly curved surfaces, much too weak to provide any significant effect in such a case? (This isn't an assertion, just something I'd thought, as you said in your 4th point?)

    2: Gallivant's bow wave was less, I'd guess, than 10 centimetres. Viking Princess' bow wake is higher, and is a shorter, heaver and wider boat. My mate said bow wave height was directly related to training edge vortices and for such a case the turbulent vortices that could have aided him were likely to be two feet and below down. I can't quantify exactly why, so I didn't add it in and I'm not trying an argument from authority here.

    3. Agreed on dissipation, I was reading hull design also, but I kept away from the math. But the laminar layer to turbulent flow in the boundary layer happens really close in, and turbulent flow extends out quite a bit. Can turbulent flow be accurately quantified as to it's influence outside controlled conditions?

    4: Where is influence of hull depth and beam on the bow wave? Doesn't (and again this is a question) your calculation rely only on bow curvature? I realize length is a big influence and the greater the length the fast the boat can go, (up to the drag limit of the hull length), but the bow wave is also dependent on displacement. Are you saying ~3.0/4.0m is a limit regardless of the other factors?

    If we take Gallivant or Viking Princess and 3.5 metres approx as a near limit, how does anyone suggest not allowing the swimmer inside this range in the Channel? That's a long way out.

    I'm quite willing to adjust any of the science of the bow and displacement wave but can you (or anyone) argue the following points don't still stand? Especially:

    1: Bow waves provides by far the greatest boost in front of the bow. Any advantage behind is significantly less and not well quantified. There is no rule against this. (Until someone does it and then the complaints will start and that will need to be added an exclusion zone also, finally making a 360 deg exclusion zone around the boat).

    2: Trent didn't actually do anything all Channel swimmers have done, when everyone swims inside that limit at the very least at some point. Most swim inside it all the time. Including some people seeking to deny his record. He and most importantly, his pilot, just maximised the existing rules.

    I recognise, Leonard, that you have never been less than categorical Trent is the record holder.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited October 2012

    I've spent a long time on this issue over the past few days, trying to understand many aspects and I've published my long blog response.

    Great post, Donal. Lots to chew on there.

    First let me state unequivocally that Trent Grimsey is the English Channel record holder. He swam within the existing rules, and the CS&PF is the unquestioned authority on this.

    But for me, at least, that's not what this debate is about. The question I'm asking myself - and the spirit in which I took @Jamie's blog post - is: What should the rules be? In the future. If you were starting a new marathon swimming governing body, how would you write the rulebook?

    My feeling is, drafting doesn't belong in solo marathon swimming. Drafting off other swimmers, or drafting off escort vessels. It seems wrong. Quite a few others seem to feel this way, too. We shouldn't discount these sentiments.

    And, I think the longer, more tortuous the justification for a possibly-performance-enhancing device or strategy or whatever, the less likely I am to be convinced it belongs in our sport. There's beauty in the simplicity.

    Perhaps the reason this debate hasn't arisen earlier (to my knowledge) is that realistically, boat-drafting is only possible for swimmers of a certain speed, and under certain conditions. It was a loophole that was ignored or overlooked because only a tiny fraction of swimmers would ever exploit it. So nobody mentioned it, except among the exclusive fraternity of swimmers (and pilots) with a legitimate shot at a record.

    The only thing that's changed is, Trent's swim was very publicly videotaped and documented. And now all of a sudden everyone says, "Wait a minute! You can do that?" It's not Trent's fault; but that doesn't mean it's not worthy of discussion.

    I can't think of an obvious, easily-enforceable way to forbid boat-drafting. But I think it's almost inevitable, now that everyone's aware of this strategy, swimmers will try to exploit it even further. Hiring boats based on the size of their bow wave - I mean displacement wave :) Taking Donal's advice and positioning themselves in front of the wave rather than behind it. The strategy will spread to Catalina and other places. Perhaps, someone will try to take down Grace van der Byl's incredible, hard-earned record by purposely exploiting the boat draft.

    Apparently there are good reasons (safety, etc.) this loophole continues to exist in the EC. Fair enough. I think there's a good argument for shutting it down elsewhere.

    Before wetsuits were invented, there was no need for a rule against wetsuits, either.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited October 2012
    Thanks, @evmo. As you should know, I have no problem with the discussion. I also have no problem with your definition. This started as both a specific consideration of Trent and a more general discussion.

    I do have a problem with accusations I've seen being thrown at Trent and other EC swimmers, and my post specifically addresses the EC, (and by extension, any other swim where there are similar safety considerations due to only one pilot boat being used).

    On the general point, answering your question and applying it the English Channel, if we had a new combined association tomorrow? @Niek has pointed out a possibility, of following the Gibraltar process of having a punt/rib (flat-bottomed boats which create little bow wave) beside the swimmer, separated from the main pilot boat. Whether this possible for the EC is debatable, as I've personally been the circumstance in the EC where it was deemed too unsafe to have a punt in the water. Due to this, I believe I may retain my own personal English Channel record, of having the longest swim ever back to the pilot boat! :-)

    To so do, would require swimmers, pilots and Coast Guard to make this decision but the debate would at least be possible.

    Any swim where the historical and safety considerations of requiring the swimmer stay close to the pilot, can of course, and should, consider a discussion. You won't find me fighting to retain the assistance of a displacement wave, regardless of how my position is interpreted, I am just one average swimmer. (In fact having been run over twice by the pilot boat, and consequently having 5 & 1/2 hours extra swimming, I know it can't be claimed I got any actual assistance).

    I don't think my post is tortuous, I'd prefer to call it detailed, I put some work into try to clarify the issues regarding Trent and the EC specifically since no-one else that I'm aware has addressed the issue. I have not addressed the more general issue and I opened with the statement that it was to the specific issue of Trent.

    Also, I don't think I was advising people to take the bow wave (i.e. I know I wasn't), but illustrating there is another area of greater contention.

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    As a hurler-on-the-ditch I have no opinion on the validity of swimming on the bow wave or not, but as an intellectually curious fellow it seems to me it would be relatively easy to perform an experiment to see what kind of effect it has:

    1. Get a boat, a buoy(*), a rope, a boom and a spring balance
    2. Attach buoy to one end of rope and spring balance to the other end.
    3. While travelling at a constant velocity in the boat use the boom to deploy the buoy to different locations around the boat.
    4. record the force indicated on the spring balance for each location

    If the effect is small (or the variability of the force high) it might be necessary to use a digital force meter that can provide an average reading over a period of time. For bonus points run two different rigs at the same time in different locations to correct for variability in the velocity of the boat.

    (*) Ideally the "buoy" should be something that reasonably approximates a swimmer in water i.e. should be mostly submerged

    This would effectively measure how the drag on the buoy varies in each location. If the bow wave is providing an advantage you would expect to see the drag reduced in that location. Since swimmers are not shaped like buoys it would not quantify the effect, but it should be able to identify if it exists in appreciable form - though perhaps not at the 0.5% level that Trent beat Peter's record by.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
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