How fast do you need to be to swim _________?

dc_in_sfdc_in_sf Member
edited May 2013 in Beginner Questions
As a slower swimmer, one of the challenges I have in picking any event with a cutoff is determining whether or not I am fast enough to make the cutoff. Many events (Boston Light, MIMS, Swim The Suck etcetera) have local conditions that make it hard to translate a pool speed to an actual in water speed over the course. I also know first hand that a 10km in the ocean is a heck of a lot different to a 10km in a lake.

I signed up for Swim The Suck this year partly because through reading @IronMike 's blog I know I have a somewhat similiar speed and he successfully swam it last year.

Conditions vary year over year, but I know that I would personally find it helpful to hear from the some of the "less swift" members of the forums about successes or failures (just as important IMHO) they have had with swims that have cutoffs.

To get the ball rolling:

My pool swim speed:
3km/h in LCM, 2mph in SCY

The Swim:
Rottnest Channel Swim. 19.7km effective 11 hour cutoff for solo'ists.

Result:
9h10m. Did 4h10m for the first 10km, definitely slowed down in the second half, conditions were more challenging but fatigue was probably a factor as well. Did not have my GPS running so don't know what the actual distance covered was.






http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

Comments

  • Well, I wouldn't consider you or 3k per hour slow. It's not blindingly fast but most of us aren't. I'd guess the variation amongst the majority of us average swimmers seems to be about from 3k to 3.8k per hour. By the time you hit 4k per hour you're into the fast group and under 3 is the other end of the scale. Almost 2 hours inside the Rotto cutoff is a loong way inside it.

    It's often really hard to extrapolate to longer distances anyway but there are so many variables but I swim about 3.6 to 3.9 in SCM pool, and I'd estimate that results in 3k per hour open water but then with a further sped drop somewhere around 5 or 6 hours.
  • ketosketos Member
    Pool best: 10k in 2:20ish (SCM)

    Recently did a 10k where the course was set up much more against the current than with and did a tad over 3:00
  • IronMikeIronMike KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    @dc_in_sf, thanks for the tag. And for reading my blog!

    I'm with you. Cutoffs scare me. Mostly because I'm a cheap bastard and if I'm going to spend the money for the swim, and the transpo to get there and the hotel to sleep off the apres-swim beer, then I want to finish. Races/swims like the Sri Chinmoy (26.4k) in Switzerland are on my bucket list. The cut-off for that race is 12 hours. While that sounds fine for 26+ km, the info sheet does say it is equivalent of 30 pool km. If I could maintain 3kph (doubtful) that means 10 hours. But I'll probably slow down. I'd hate to go all the way to get a DNF simply because I missed the cut-off (but was still strong enough to swim).

    Also like you dc_in_sf, I signed up for END-Wet this year based on someone else's review of last year's race. The beauty of that is if the race sucks or you don't finish it, you can always blame the other guy, right @Leonard_Jansen?
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Hey
    Are you doing the 5 coves of death tomorrow? We could have a swim-off.
    I'm also "slow" (it's all relative!) and got pulled from MIMS my first time. But there was unusual flooding and a late start that day and I've been back and done it twice, although way at the end of the finishers. At the time I was about a 3hr 20 or slower for a 10k..though they all vary. I'm about 24-25 minutes for a 1650 pool yds swim.

    You'll be fine for Swim the Suck!! I did it in 2010 about 45 min quicker than last year, but either way you get some kind of current assist. I think IronMike and I were only a few minutes apart in 2012 Suck
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Charter Member
    I'm about the same speed as you are @dc_in_sf. I swam 3,700 yards in the last 1-hour postal swim which put me well into the top third of my age group. But I'm very slow compared to marathon swimmers--bottom 10%.

    I Swam the Suck last year in 5+01 with the smallest current assist they've ever had for that event. They didn't even enforce the cutoff. I think the last finisher came in at 7+00.

    I stressed out about that cutoff for the entire time I was training for the event. I even opted to wait a year to do it so that I could try to get faster. A lot of pointless worry, it turns out. My advice would be for you not to give that cut-off a second thought.
  • Well, I wouldn't consider you or 3k per hour slow. It's not blindingly fast but most of us aren't. I'd guess the variation amongst the majority of us average swimmers seems to be about from 3k to 3.8k per hour. By the time you hit 4k per hour you're into the fast group and under 3 is the other end of the scale. Almost 2 hours inside the Rotto cutoff is a loong way inside it.

    It's often really hard to extrapolate to longer distances anyway but there are so many variables but I swim about 3.6 to 3.9 in SCM pool, and I'd estimate that results in 3k per hour open water but then with a further sped drop somewhere around 5 or 6 hours.

    I should mention that the Rottnest cutoff is particularly generous to solo swimmers because the last of the relays leave 1h45m after the unseeded soloists and they share the same absolute cutoff time (5pm). To be honest for Rottnest I wasn't worried about the cutoff but did want to include it as a data point.

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • IronMike said:

    Also like you dc_in_sf, I signed up for END-Wet this year based on someone else's review of last year's race. The beauty of that is if the race sucks or you don't finish it, you can always blame the other guy, right @Leonard_Jansen?

    I get the feeling that I should take an inventory of the people I talked into doing END-WET and see how we stack-up, size-wise, in case I have to fight my way out and make a run for the airport.

    -LBJ

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

  • I get the feeling that I should take an inventory of the people I talked into doing END-WET and see how we stack-up, size-wise, in case I have to fight my way out and make a run for the airport.

    -LBJ

    I'm signed up in large part because of your glowing review of last year's swim. Buy if my training is less than what it should be, that is my fault, not yours.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    If I stuff up this swim its your fault
  • I'm not the first one out of the water ... ever. But thanks to the encouragement (or sadistic lies) from this group, I'm venturing out into open water and ocean swims this year. I'm doing the Pensacola 25K on May 18 with @timsroot and hope to wash ashore before the next race begins on Sunday. Fortunately, Tim knew a friend who knew a friend who knew an amazing kayaker who has agreed to plod along with me. I just hope to finish, but even it I don't, it'll be a great experience. I'll post results for your amusement and to make you all feel like Michael Phelps or Dara Torres.
    Molly Nance, Lincoln, Nebraska
    http://mollysbigswim.blogspot.com/
    www.facebook.com/molly.nance
  • SharkoSharko Member
    edited May 2013
    From my experience of observation and my own perspective as a middle of the pack swimmer ….the slower swimmers probably get the most from their marathon swims…just look at the evidence of some of the people that have done long Channel swims…I know in my own experience with a 14:44 EC swim that the last two hours made the swim for me…(maybe this is the same for all Channel swimmers to some extent)...the perseverance to the final completion…was for me why I had, in reflection, quested to attempt the swim…at the South End we always salute the last swimmers as they have been in the cold water sometimes twice as long as the fastest….so Sharko’s advice is embrace you slowness and just keep going…you will come out the other side transformed!!!
    "I never met a shark I didn't like"
  • heartheart Member
    The fun applause I got from everyone on shore when I finished last at the Portland Bridge Swim was precious.
  • evmoevmo Admin
    edited May 2013
    This is an interesting topic, and I'm going to take it in a slightly different (but hopefully still relevant) direction.

    Generally speaking, current-assisted swims will be more favorable to slower swimmers, while variable, unpredictable, or head currents will be more favorable to faster swimmers. In a multi-participant setting, current-assist will condense the field relative to their current-neutral speeds, while head currents will spread out the field even further than in a current-neutral setting.

    On the basis of these generalizations, here is a proposed ranking of prominent marathon swims, sorted according to "friendliness" to slower vs. faster swimmers:

    [slow swimmer friendly]
    Swim the Suck
    Ederle Swim
    8 Bridges (for sake of simplicity, I know the stages vary)
    MIMS
    Santa Barbara Channel (Anacapa)
    Catalina Channel
    Tampa Bay
    Gibraltar
    Lake Tahoe (lengthwise)
    Santa Barbara Channel (Santa Cruz)
    In Search of Memphre
    English Channel
    Farallones (E to W)
    Santa Barbara Channel (Santa Rosa)
    Santa Barbara Channel (San Miguel)
    Farallones (W to E)
    [slow swimmer unfriendly]

    Feedback welcome!
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    The cutoff times are important in MIMS, and enforced, simply because of the tides. I was pulled from my first MIMS for not making the first check point in time, but made it twice since. I was still pretty close to not making the first cutoff on my successful ones, but I'm a slow starter and was completely fine for the other two check points I that race.
    I was started early in the final stage of 8 Bridges last year (thank you David Barra!), and made it, but I think there is at least one stage of that swim that I'd have to wear fins and a wetsuit (hehe) to make.
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member


    I was started early in the final stage of 8 Bridges last year (thank you David Barra!), and made it, but I think there is at least one stage of that swim that I'd have to wear fins and a wetsuit (hehe) to make.

    As I've said many times: Rondi is the brains of our operation, and should get the credit for tide, current, and swimmer speed calculations.... I lift heavy objects (whether or not they need to be lifted)
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Haha! I'd assumed it was you because Rondi was swimming. I loved swimming along the shore looking at the houses
  • IronMikeIronMike KyrgyzstanCharter Member
    edited May 2013
    Thanks for that list @evmo. Now I hope our international brethren will add to it. For example, where would the 26k Sri Chinmoy swim in Switzerland fall in that list?

    I'll start since I've done a few international swims. I'd put Dart 10k right up there with StS.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf Member
    edited May 2013
    evmo said:

    On the basis of these generalizations, here is a proposed ranking of prominent marathon swims, sorted according to "friendliness" to slower vs. faster swimmers:
    [snip]

    @evmo great list. Are there any of these swims that are mostly current neutral (Lake Tahoe? Not sure of the currents in the lake)?
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • evmoevmo Admin
    edited May 2013
    Currents in Tahoe probably depend on the wind, but others would know better than I. For the sake of this list I was assuming Tahoe is either current-neutral or variable/unpredictable. Same with Memphre.
  • I would be interested to see where you think some of the other international swims such as Tsuguru, Cook Strait, Maui Channel, Round Jersey, North Channel would be on the list. Not that I'm thinking of doing them all! With a 16 hour EC crossing, I think I need to be looking towards the top of @evmo 's list. And I agree with @sharko, the last few hours were the best!

    Is the Farallon Islands at the very bottom of the list because you have more chance of being eaten than finishing the swim?
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    I love how the Farallones are even on the list :)
    I'm guessing it's the cold that'll get the slower swimmer on that one, more so going W to E. W to E so much easier on the slower swimmers, because then the main factor is just out swimming the critters.
  • evmoevmo Admin
    edited May 2013
    Re: Farallones. The challenge for the slower swimmer is that the tidal flows are parallel to the direction of travel. And the tides in & out of the Golden Gate can be extremely swift, not unlike a river. It's possible to be affected by the GG tides as far as a third of the way out to the islands.

    Going W to E a swimmer must time the tide cycle so the approach to the GG is not on a flood tide strong enough to overpower the swimmer. For a slower swimmer, the margin of error is that much smaller.

    Going to E to W, one can ride the ebb, and if it's strong you'll be shot out of the GG like a cannon. However, if the swimmer isn't fast enough to get far enough out before the flood tide kicks in -- it's over.

    Cold & predators are just icing on the cake.
  • evmoevmo Admin
    edited May 2013
    We could also categorize according to types of currents. Again, in order of least challenging to most challenging for slower swimmers.

    current-assisted
    Swim the Suck
    Ederle Swim
    8 Bridges
    MIMS
    Tsugaru the long way

    current-neutral or mild wind currents
    Tahoe
    Memphre

    cross currents
    Catalina Channel (weak)
    Maui Channel (medium)
    Gibraltar (strong)
    English Channel (very strong)
    Tsugaru the short way (very strong)

    variable currents
    Tampa Bay (weak push, then weak head current if you're too slow)
    Santa Barbara Channel (generally unpredictable; stronger the further north you go)
    Cook Strait
    Farallones - E to W
    Farallones - W to E

    Not sure where to put Molokai or North Channel; don't know enough about them.
  • NiekNiek Member
    edited May 2013
    I don't know how to qualify the Dutch IJsselmeer Marathon 23 km
    The normal time limit is 3 hours after the winner.
    The wind and temperature are the stumbling blocks. There's no current.
    Temperatures can be as low as 16 degrees Celsius. But the wind is the most insidious. It can create a short wave that gets even the best hardened swimmer seasick (and the also the boat crew).
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
  • NC is strong cross currents. My vague understanding of Molokai is similar (i.e.e strong) from Steve Redmond. Zurich is pretty much current neutral afaik, but like Isjellmeer, can have wind problems.
  • NiekNiek Member
    edited May 2013
    Problems with wind is that the waves bounces from the shores and they start interfering with each other. This results in steep not to high waves from different angels.
    Same type of patterns you get if you splash 1 foot in the middle of your bathtub.
    (Then watch how your rubber duck rock :D )
    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!
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