How far is too far, without an escort boat?

HaydnHaydn Member
edited April 2013 in General Discussion
We all are happy to swim a mile or two from our clothes if we don't get too far out from the beach and we follow the coastline. But, how far off shore is too far? How wide a bay is too wide? Swimming straight out towards the horizon, how far is too far?


  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    depends on commercial and recreational traffic.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    I agree with Dave.

    I grew up on Lake Erie. In the summer, I would often swim out there. During the week, I didn't have any issue parallelling the shore along my peninsula in the mornings. The only people on the water at that hour are charter captains, who are responsible, and don't fish where I was swimming anyway. During the weekend, there's no f'ing way that I'd think about swimming anywhere outside in a very serious manner. Way too many (probably drunk and foolish) boaters to even think about it.

    False River, Louisiana, where I do some training now, I might swim from someone's dock during the week when everyone is at work, but I can only get up there on the weekends. I don't mind swimming up there but will only swim if I have a paddler. Again, too many drunk partiers. I don't begrudge people enjoying their weekends, but I don't need prop marks on my back.
  • HaydnHaydn Member
    OK, so lets not consider swimming in lakes, but the open ocean and lets consider drowning as the main risk and not traffic.
  • oxooxo Guest
    edited April 2013
    There are a number of non-traffic risks. Which causes of drowning are on your mind?
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    depends on commercial and recreational traffic.
    Haydn said:

    OK, so lets not consider swimming in lakes, but the open ocean and lets consider drowning as the main risk and not traffic.

    hey... whatever blows your dress up. if you want to swim off into the sunset; have fun.

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • HaydnHaydn Member
    In England we are surrounded by water in which we could literally swim straight out to see and have virtually no risk of collision with recreational or commercial boats. Certainly we could swim as far as the horizon, straight out and back, without an escort boat. We might tow a float with water and radio. My op seeks to ask at what point is it considered too far to swim (assuming most of us are capable of swimming out 5 miles and back). We also have bays maybe 2 or 4 miles across. Swimming across a bay man entail being 1 or 2 miles out at the furthest point.

    At what point would you stay within say a 5 minute swim to get ashore? Are you happy to be 30 minutes or even 2 hours away from shore? Without an escort.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin
    For me, towing one 650ml bottle of carb behind me, about 3 hours, which isn't a hugely long swim. Strictly speaking, I don't really need a feed for 3 hours but the bottle and the time limit is my concession to safety. I find it impossible to separate traffic considerations from anything else. Tides are the biggest factor though, unsurprisingly when the local tidal range is 4.0 to 6.5 metres, neaps to springs. The World's Most Popular Open Water Swimming Blog

  • oxooxo Guest
    How stable is the weather/fog Haydn?
  • I'm comfortable going out a half hour / mile from wherever I left my clothes on the shore and then I head back. To me that feels like a safe distance that I could get back to no matter what. I just do laps like that then until I feel the cold starting to creep in too much and I don't hesitate to cut the last lap short. Most of my swims are in lakes in middle of nowhere Alaska so I don't have to worry about motorized boats. There are just occasional kayaks and I've never seen a drunken kayaker.
    The funny thing is you never know who is watching. There have been quite a few times when I thought I was totally alone and some hikers popped out of the woods to talk to me as I was drying off. One couple was afraid to leave me there alone and hung around until I got out. Another lady thought I was a suicide case at first but then said she changed her mind because I was too good of a swimmer. I can't blame her for thinking that. If its raining like crazy and you see a guy strip down to his swimsuit, stuff his clothes into a garbage bag, and then swim off into the distance, you've got to wonder.
    And yeah I know I'm not supposed to swim alone but to have a whole lake to yourself in the middle of nowhere where you can't see anyone, hear anyone, or see any sign of civilization.....oh what luxury!
  • Of course it depends on the tides and the area. Where I swim I am surrounded by land masses that jut out a decent half mile and an island 10k away but the tides locally would definitely cause a huge problem. However with so much land mass at least there is a higher chance of getting back to land. Personally I've never swam further than a quarter mile from shore.
    Why not get an inflatable buoy and take a waterproof phone out with you to phone the coastguard when you begin to drift away? That'd be adventurous
  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member
    There was that couple that swam across Crater Lake last year "alone." They had one of those SSDs. No boats.

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • bobswimsbobswims OregonCharter Member
    I maxed out at 1 mile years ago. I don't know how they do it now, but when I swam Seal Beach it was a straight swim 1 1/2 miles out to an offshore oil rig and back. I didn't have a paddler, and by the time you get to the turn around the field was pretty spread out. On one of my swim to the horizon swims in Ocean City Maryland when i was young, I had a 35 ft boat catch sight of me and rush over. One of the people on the boat got out on the bow with a life ring and started to shout that they would get me and not to worry. When I calmly told them I was out swimming, they looked at me like I was crazy. I was less than a mile out.
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