Why does a triathlete thinks it's normal?

NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
edited May 2013 in General Discussion
I read Not Your Normal Open Water Swim Tips
while the other swimmers (min 1 max 4) aims to simulate race conditions. The group swimmers deliberately knock or disrupt the chosen swimmer, the contact between swimmers should be progressive and should only increase when the chosen swimmer agrees what type of contact is prescribed. Be sensible and keep it safe.
Are there no rules against this kind of behaviour in a tri-swim? And if there are why aren't they enforced?

To answer my own questions, yes there are rules.
Rule Book - British Triathlon Federation
25.2 Competitors shall at all times swim so they do not deliberately obstruct or interfere with other competitors. Making contact other than by accident shall be declared unsporting impedance.
Penalty disqualification: rule 29.5 i

So why aren't they enforced?
I think because the numbers of competitors are to great for the amount of officials to oversee and control. This results in the above and other articles learning to behave wrong in order to win. And it results in the also discussed Alcatraz triathlon where safety in the water was lousy if any.

It's time the triathlon world changes attitude and teaches their own to obey the rules, not how to bend them.
The officials must penalize more. Eventually the athletes will start to behave and less penalties will be necessary.
Organizations must lower the entry numbers to the level that their officials can manage.

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Comments

  • IronMikeIronMike inch.houseboat.primeCharter Member
    Interestingly I read somewhere, I think in @Munatones book, about putting petroleum jelly around your ankles so when your OW competitors grab your ankles to get ahead of you they can't get a grip.
    I'll try to find the reference.

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  • IronMikeIronMike inch.houseboat.primeCharter Member
    Page 194 in Open Water Swimming under the heading Equipment, bullet 2

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  • IronMikeIronMike inch.houseboat.primeCharter Member
    But more to your point @Niek, I agree with you.
    I may have opportunity to find out soon. More later.

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  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    edited May 2013
    I've swum in a few mass start open water swims and I can ensure you that this sort of contact is not isolated to the triathlon world...

    It is almost certainly a cause of anxiety for poor or inexperienced swimmers, but for a beach start I'm not sure it is a major safety concern. Swimmers can easily avoid it as well by starting at the back of the pack or at the edges.

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

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited May 2013
    There should be enough officials and those officials should penalize bad behaviour. (enforce the rules)Than ultimately this behaviour will be the exception and not the norm.
    I can't speak for Dutch triathlon events but you won't find this kind of behaviour at Dutch openwater events

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member
    I’m not sure how you officiate a mass start like this one at the Kona Ironman Championship.

    In years past I’ve slimed my legs up with Vaseline for the large mass starts at the La Jolla and Waikiki Rough Water swims. It does work, if they start to grab they let go in a hurry.
  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    edited May 2013
    This thread reminded me of this terrific commentary:
    JenAtortuga
  • IronMikeIronMike inch.houseboat.primeCharter Member
    That's funny, @heart!

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  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member

    I’m not sure how you officiate a mass start like this one at the Kona Ironman Championship.

    Disqualify the organization.

    Those mass starts are wrong for 2 main reasons
    a/ safety reasons
    b/ facilitating unsportsmanlike behaviour

    Why not less competitors and (more) wave starts? =>money + prestige

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member

    Disqualify the organization.

    The Kona Ironman Championship is main event for the Ironman Corporation, the only ones who can disqualify them is them. Not going to happen for this for profit corporation. However as noted in link on a previous thread they are experimenting with changes in some of there events this year in hopes of making the starts a bit more tolerable.

    http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/472/ironman-news-about-swimming-changes-
  • I'd be interested to hear what the real open water swimming world has to say about contact. There was a case in NZ late last year in which a leading swimmer was DQed after swimming across the path of a following swimmer. He argues that, as the leading swimmer, FINA rules gave him right of way. But the organisers accused him of unsportsmanlike conduct. Some, random contact is unavoidable in pack swimming. Comes with the activity. Doesn't mean it's malign. Can't be completely scrubbed out.

    That said, it's incumbent on those with influence at least to encourage a culture of sportspersonlike behaviour, which should be about allowing swimmers to swim unimpeded by intentional obstruction, while recognising the right of a leading swimmer to choose their line.
  • I have a good friend in SISC who is known for trying to drown his mates during races, he's very fair in that he reserves it for his friends...

    I've never initiated contact during a race, but if someone does try to swim on top of me to intimidate me or push me off my line in my middle-of-the-pack position, I would't back off from it. And if someone tries to take an inside line, I don't give mine up easily. Skin has been lost.
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    The passage that @Niek is quoting at the start of this thread is a tip for simulating
    race conditions. It's suggesting that people should deliberately initiate contact in practice so that they'll be prepared for contact in a race. That's good advice. In a race, 90% of contact is accidental, but it's still scary if you're not prepared for it.

    I've swam in 25 open water events in the past 3 years (not including kayak-escorted events like Swim the Suck or SCAR). I even did the swim for Ironman Arizona (>2,500 swimmers in a mass start). I've never seen a problem with unsportmanlike conduct. I've seen contact that might be unnerving, but nothing that would give a person an unfair advantage or be seriously dangerous.

    Yes, I have had people grab my ankles. I have no idea why they would want to do that, but I can shake them off with a flutter kick pretty easily. It ends up being an advantage for me because my adrenaline goes thru the roof, and I speed up.

    If someone muscles his/her way past me, I use that to my advantage too. I stay on their feet and catch a draft for a little while. If they really are faster than I am, I get a free speed boost. If not, I take a few moments of rest and sprint to overtake them. Again, the adrenaline makes me a lot faster.

    Contact, even if it is deliberate, hardly ever hurts. The only way you're going to hurt someone is with a closed fist or a breast stroke kick.

    Open Water Swimming is a contact sport. It's exciting, and it can be scary. Everyone has a choice of hanging back or swimming wide to avoid contact. If you're experienced/brave enough to get into the eye of the storm, you have a huge advantage.

    I'm appalled at the idea of trying to tame this Most Fun of All Sports.
    tortuga
  • IronMikeIronMike inch.houseboat.primeCharter Member

    There was a case in NZ late last year in which a leading swimmer was DQed after swimming across the path of a following swimmer. He argues that, as the leading swimmer, FINA rules gave him right of way. ...while recognizing the right of a leading swimmer to choose their line.

    I'm okay with this rational, as long as the leading swimmer is taking a direct line to the finish or next buoy. If I were a judge, I'd take that into account. (I don't know the NZ case, so I'm not saying that guy did or did not take a direct line.)

    Oh, and @oceanswims, I corrected your misspelling of "recognizing." ;)

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  • IronMikeIronMike inch.houseboat.primeCharter Member
    WaterGirl said:


    I'm appalled at the idea of trying to tame this Most Fun of All Sports.

    I'm with you @WaterGirl. The potential for contact and the benefit of drafting are things I like about OW swimming.
    tortuga

    http://blogs.marathonswimmers.org/ironmike

    Where the hell is IronMike located? Find out here: https://what3words.com/

  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    I've done a number of swim legs on triathlon relays and I've never been beaten up as badly as during those brief swims.
    I'm pretty mild-mannered by any standard and in the first and second races I was shocked at how I was getting clobbered and I didn't retaliate. In the third race, I let my inner "Jersey boy" come out and anyone who made more than casual contact got better than they gave.
    Interestingly, they often start the relay teams with the women here and the woman are just as bad as the men. However, I won't retaliate against a woman (call me "sexist", I suppose) and have ended up with some pretty nasty nail scratches and bruises as a result.
    I agree, triathletes are bad news in terms of roughness.

    -LBJ

    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member

    @WaterGirl I'm appalled at the idea of trying to tame this Most Fun of All Sports. and @IronMike The potential for contact and the benefit of drafting are things I like about OW swimming.

    Contact and drafting ain't the same as deep scratches and blue eyes.

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • timsroottimsroot Charter Member
    Niek said:

    Contact and drafting ain't the same as deep scratches and blue eyes.

    I agree, but it still happens. I've accidentally kicked friends in the face before during race starts. I didn't even realize I had done it until they said something after the race. To an extent, if you are going to stick that many swimmers in that confined of an area, you're going to get contact, and some if it is going to be nasty. I agree that if it is intentional, the person should be red carded and removed from the water. But, as has been mentioned previously in the thread, how do you expect to patrol the start of a 5,000 person race?
  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    It's not your fault if you kick someone (unless you're swimming breaststroke). Feet don't have eyes. It's a swimmer's job to keep his/her head out of people's feet. If you can't find a foot-free spot to stick your head at the start, you have to doggie paddle for a moment. I put my head down a second or two before the gun goes off to make sure I have room for my face.

    During the start and around the first turn, I kick a little more gently. During those times, I stop kicking for a moment if my foot connects with someone. But you can't count on other people being experienced/nice enough to do that. It's best to watch for feet.

    I've been kicked in the face plenty before I learned all this. It doesn't really hurt or leave a mark, unless you have the bad luck to shove your goggles into someone's foot.

    The only type of retaliation that makes sense is winning. For one thing, it's impossible to know if the person was actually trying to be agressive. "Never explain by malice that which can be explained by incompetence." It's common for the person beating you up to actually think that you're the one doing the beating. That happens when they don't swim straight or are sighting on you instead of feeling for the bubbles.

    Retaliation also wastes mental and physical energy. There's no way to *get* someone without slowing yourself down. Better to just beat the person to the finish line.
    tortuga
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    @WaterGirl except for (unless you're swimming breaststroke) I agree with you.
    If someone before you is swimming breaststroke you have to take a wider berth around that person.
    tortuga

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • timsroottimsroot Charter Member
    Niek said:

    @WaterGirl except for (unless you're swimming breaststroke) I agree with you.
    If someone before you is swimming breaststroke you have to take a wider berth around that person.

    True. But if you stop and swim breaststroke in traffic, you're a Dick
  • ChickenOSeaChickenOSea Charter Member
    Happens a lot around turn buoys. People suddenly change to breaststroke. I got a pretty big kick to my boob in Big Shoulders.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited June 2013

    Ironman Coeur d'Alene: Scot Bates, of Southlake, Texas, said he appreciates the new Ironman SwimSmart Initiative, which also debuts at the Ironman in Lake Placid, N.Y., on July 28.

    “Loved it. It was about 20 times safer than last year,” Bates said Sunday after emerging from the lake in one hour, 20 minutes.

    His first Ironman was last year in Coeur d’Alene, and he remembers the cold, choppy water and mass start. “It was nuts,” he said.

    But Jacob Gilden, of Arlington, Va., said he prefers the challenge of a mass start.

    “I was really disappointed when they changed the swim,” Gilden said. “I won’t do another race where they don’t do a mass start, honestly. I think it’s a critical part of the race, and to get rid of it is really unfortunate.”

    Jacob should take up kickboxing.

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • JonMLJonML Member
    Niek said:


    But Jacob Gilden, of Arlington, Va., said he prefers the challenge of a mass start.

    “I was really disappointed when they changed the swim,” Gilden said. “I won’t do another race where they don’t do a mass start, honestly. I think it’s a critical part of the race, and to get rid of it is really unfortunate.”

    Jacob should take up kickboxing.
    He already has. He's just disappointed that he won't be able to put it into practice.

    Jon

  • in my 3rd open water swim i got caught in the middle of a small pack. The guys in front of me where too slow but I couldn't get around them immediately as I was boxed in. The guys behind were a little faster. I had to do a little breast stroke just to stop swimming into the guys but the poor guys behind me did get a few smacks in the head. I felt really bad but i didn't know what else to do. Eventually a gap opened and i got out to the side of the pack. Next time I'll just position myself better at the start if possible
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    It's like with trafic. The one coming from behind has to watch out and keep distance.

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • timsroottimsroot Charter Member
    mongoose said:

    I had to do a little breast stroke just to stop swimming into the guys but the poor guys behind me did get a few smacks in the head. I felt really bad but i didn't know what else to do.

    Niek said:

    It's like with trafic. The one coming from behind has to watch out and keep distance.

    I don't think that very many people actively seek out contact/combat, but it does happen. There are a lot of people in not a lot of space. BUt @Niek is exactly right, you need to keep an eye on what's going on around you.

    I've heard race car drivers put it this way: The front of my car is my responsibility to keep out of trouble. The back of my car is the responsibility of the guy behind me. I don't think it's exactly that simple, but I think it's a pretty good point.
    tortuga
  • marlinmarlin Member

    In one a one mile ocean race this weekend, someone grabbed firmly onto my ankle and pulled.

    Why would someone do that? I'm a middle of the pack to top 1/3 swimmer.

  • IronMikeIronMike inch.houseboat.primeCharter Member

    marlin said: In one a one mile ocean race this weekend, someone grabbed firmly onto my ankle and pulled.

    Why would someone do that? I'm a middle of the pack to top 1/3 swimmer.

    Coat your ankles with petroleum jelly. At least in triathlete-organized OW races...

    marlingregoc

    http://blogs.marathonswimmers.org/ironmike

    Where the hell is IronMike located? Find out here: https://what3words.com/

  • marlinmarlin Member

    Also, maybe carry a dive knife strapped to the leg (for show only) to scare off potential cheaters....

    Besides the ankle pull, there was a lot of feet tapping and at one point, contact with my back that I thought was an accident.

  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member

    marlin said: Besides the ankle pull, there was a lot of feet tapping

    Daydreaming of wearing wetsuit shoes. Only having nails sticking out like a porcupine fur.
    That will teach them. :D

    marlin

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • tortugatortuga Senior Member

    I've been in dozens of triathlons and there is a lot of contact related to close proximity. VERY seldom is it damaging. I have NEVER heard of, nor experienced, anyone intentionally interfering with another swimmer. I'm sure it has happened but it would be super unusual. The writer of Niek's original statement suggesting swimmers create a practice environment where they get some contact is a good idea. When you're not used to it, the contact can be unnerving, can cause you to lose your stroke at least, and panic at worst. Getting used to shrugging it off is important. Kinda like getting used to shrugging off that unknown slimy thing that brushes your leg while in merky OW.

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member

    marlin said: In one a one mile ocean race this weekend, someone grabbed firmly onto my ankle and pulled.

    Why would someone do that? I'm a middle of the pack to top 1/3 swimmer.

    Get in his draft and stay there. The whole race. Close. So your fingertips are just lightly brushing his toes every 3-4 strokes. Not only does this actually have some practical value (unlike the ankle grab which makes no sense at all!), psychologically, its WAY worse. :ar!

    tortuga said: I've been in dozens of triathlons and there is a lot of contact related to close proximity. VERY seldom is it damaging. I have NEVER heard of, nor experienced, anyone intentionally interfering with another swimmer. I'm sure it has happened but it would be super unusual. The writer of Niek's original statement suggesting swimmers create a practice environment where they get some contact is a good idea. When you're not used to it, the contact can be unnerving, can cause you to lose your stroke at least, and panic at worst. Getting used to shrugging it off is important. Kinda like getting used to shrugging off that unknown slimy thing that brushes your leg while in merky OW.

    The first tri I ever did (circa 1990) was an in-water start in a deep but very narrow lake (actually, a 100-foot-wide canal with brick walls). I was fresh out of college and in top swimming shape, confident I'd be in the front of my wave (for the swim, anyway). So when they called our age group, I got right in and swam to the starting line (it was literally a bungee line). When the announcer said "30 seconds," the elbows started flying. I was shoved backward as people clawed their way forward. Right when the horn went off, some guy put his hand on my shoulder and shoved me down and himself over the top. Once you go under in a situation like that, game over. It's like falling down during a stampede. There was about a 5-10 second stretch where I thought I was going to die. I had to swim to the bank (it was very narrow) and grab the wall to catch my breath and regroup.

    IronMiketortuga

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved Tides that I tried to swim against Have brought be down upon my knees Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    My experience with triathlons is limited because I don't have a bike or any interest in getting one. But I've done the swim leg a couple of times of the tri my coach directs. This particular tri is small, maybe a couple hundred participants at most, and so it may thus have a less frantic feel. But I haven't noticed the outrageous behavior people describe. Occasionally someone will collide and one guy started to swim over me but apparently unintentionally b/c he moved aside and apologized. The coach let's people know from the start that stuff like that won't be tolerated (and he reminds people during his ow clinics that such things show no class. But I think too there's a good vibe about his races, and people respect him. Seems to me an RD sets the tone, not that there's a guarantee that everyone will cooperate, but at least that they will know what's expected.

    I also did the Stars and Stripes Aquathlon (I do enjoy the swim and run, just not keen on biking). Again nevery had an issue w anyone being rude or overly aggressive, even though that's an event I would think was popular w triathletes. But I was in a slow wave, so the hard core gang had already started. Not too much bumping into anyone but occasional contact, such as brushing against people now and then. Actually found that kind of contact reassuring bc it meant I wasn't way off course or behind. ;)

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember
    edited July 21

    I've always had the philosophy that it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Doesn't work so good in sprints but it sure works in the long view... So I let the big guys fight it out at the start and I stay out of the fray.

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