Is Advocating "Channel Rules" Always a Responsible Position?

edited August 2013 in General Discussion
This past weekend, The Court Without Appeal ruled that instead of taking a second weekend long swim on Sunday, what I REALLY wanted to do was the hated yardwork that I have been neglecting. (It is funny how she always knows what I really want...) That means that unless I am using a chain saw or the mower, I have plenty of time to think - anything to take myself away from the mental waterboarding that is yardwork.

One thing that crossed my mind was this: Is it always responsible/ethical to advocate using "channel rules" (or some slight variation) for a given swim?
Some examples of why this crosses my mind:
1) We know that extensive UV exposure is a skin cancer risk and even though sunscreen works pretty well, it does not stay on forever and it has its own issues of toxicity. So, in the case of a very long swim (e.g. Cuba-Florida), rather risky exposure seems to be certain. So, is not allowing a shade canopy or a rash guard-type of suit responsible?
2) Does anyone know the long-term effects of repeated severe jellyfish stings? (Calling Dr. Angel Whats-her-name) It crosses my mind that the liver is probably involved in detoxifying said stings and perhaps it (and other body parts) may be adversely affected. Therefore, is not allowing a "sting" suit responsible?
3) Given that most people involved in this are adults, it can easily be said that they are taking on the responsibilty of any risks as adults. However, does this change when a swimmer is a minor?

I am not taking a position here, I am just asking the questions. I think that the majority position of forum members of "use channel rules" does carry a real weight in the marathon swimming community, especially with regard to the newer swimmers. So, as Spiderman says, "With great power comes great responsibility."

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

Comments

  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    There was a long thread on rashguards and stinger suits last year, I suspect that discussion was at least in part inspiration for the subsequent survey on Marathon Swimming Rules that @evmo did.

    I am personally in favour of non (swim) performance enhancing environmental protection, though except for the most extreme swims the negatives (chafing/drag) tend to outweigh the benefits at the moment.

    Despite being lathered in SolRx I still had my entire back peel off after Rottnest this year, though that was preferably to the absolutely horrible chafing a friend got from wearing a rashguard on his solo attempt two years previously.
    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • I'm reminded of the Monty Python joke when discussions about Channel rules come up: "In Nova Scotia today, Mr. Roy Bent of North Walsham in Norfolk became the first man to cross the Atlantic on a tricycle. His tricycle, specially adapted for the crossing, was ninety feet long, with a protective steel hull, three funnels, seventeen first-class cabins and a radar scanner." Of course there needs to be some standard, else I'd take a submarine to San Pedro and call it the first underwater Catalina crossing. But the standard should allow for some basic decency (you're not suggesting swimming sans goggles and suit). There needs to be an established line so that swims are properly comparable, even if weather conditions alone make every swim incomparable.
    One could argue that such a standard should also allow for safety, but then you get into an interesting quandary. The number one danger for OW swimmers isn't jellies or sunscreen poisoning, it's water temperature. If you were to argue for a jellysuit to protect against jellies, why not allow for a wetsuit to protect against cold temperatures? They'd both be in the best interests of safety, right? Devil's advocate aside, it should be immediately obvious that OW swimming is inherently dangerous, and I would argue that channel rules preserves the respect for this danger, which is why I agree with it.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2013
    Leadhyena said:

    "In Nova Scotia today, Mr. Roy Bent of North Walsham in Norfolk became the first man to cross the Atlantic on a tricycle. His tricycle, specially adapted for the crossing, was ninety feet long, with a protective steel hull, three funnels, seventeen first-class cabins and a radar scanner."

    Love it! :)
    Leadhyena said:

    The number one danger for OW swimmers isn't jellies or sunscreen poisoning, it's water temperature.

    Actually, I'd argue it's lack of swimming competence.

    If you're excluding triathletes & rank beginners, and only considering the subset of competent & experienced OW swimmers, then I'd say boats.
    Leadhyena said:

    If you were to argue for a jellysuit to protect against jellies, why not allow for a wetsuit to protect against cold temperatures?

    Because cold water can be trained for, while jellies cannot.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    evmo said:

    Leadhyena said:

    If you were to argue for a jellysuit to protect against jellies, why not allow for a wetsuit to protect against cold temperatures?

    Because cold water can be trained for, while jellies cannot.
    And the same goes for resistance to skin cancer :)

    Personally I suspect that some of the resistance to rashguards and stingersuits is born of a fear that one day someone will invent an insulating swim suit that doesn't improve perfomance which is the principle knock against wetsuits these days.

    Given that a marathon runner can wear clothing to stay warm in a cold weather race, it will become nigh impossible to distinguish to the public the difference between a traditional swimmer and one who wears an insulating but not performance enhancing suit should that ever come to pass, so I guess I have some sympathy for the position.

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • @evmo: while I agree with you that cold water can be trained for, there are limits. I don't see myself swimming the Arctic circle anytime soon, and there are many people I know who simply could not do it given their body type.
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2013
    dc_in_sf said:

    ...fear that one day someone will invent an insulating swim suit that doesn't improve performance which is the principle knock against wetsuits these days.

    Given that a marathon runner can wear clothing to stay warm in a cold weather race, it will become nigh impossible to distinguish to the public the difference between a traditional swimmer and one who wears an insulating but not performance enhancing suit

    "Non-performance enhancing insulating swim suit" seems like an oxymoron to me. If it increases heat retention, then it enhances performance. I guess you mean speed enhancing, but then, increased heat retention is ultimately speed enhancing.

    The analogy to marathon running is instructive, I think. In marathon swimming historically, the ambient environment (e.g., water temp) has been fundamentally linked to the nature of the sport, in a way that it's never been in marathon running. Water temperature is, and has always been, "part of the challenge" in marathon swimming.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    evmo said:

    "Non-performance enhancing insulating swim suit" seems like an oxymoron to me. If it increases heat retention, then it enhances performance. I guess you mean speed enhancing, but then, increased heat retention is ultimately speed enhancing.

    Could you elaborate on the mechanism by which heat retention aids speed? I'm genuinely curious, I don't know enough about physiology or biomechanics to make an assessment either way.

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited August 2013
    dc_in_sf said:

    Could you elaborate on the mechanism by which heat retention aids speed? I'm genuinely curious, I don't know enough about physiology or biomechanics to make an assessment either way.

    I don't know about the physiology or biomechanics either, but I definitely swim slower in cold water (and also hot water). For me, the effect is flat between about 68f and 78f. Above 78f and below 68f, it's exponential.

    So, even though I'm quite accustomed to swimming in 50f (10c) water, I swim far more slowly in 50f than I do in 70f.

    I think Lynne Cox talks a bit about this in Swimming to Antarctica... I don't have a page # for you.

    I suspect it has something to do with net cost of transport & homeostasis.

    In cold water, body works hard to stay warm, less energy for swimming. In hot water, body works hard to stay cool, less energy for swimming.
  • david_barradavid_barra Charter Member
    evmo said:


    "Non-performance enhancing insulating swim suit" seems like an oxymoron to me. If it increases heat retention, then it enhances performance. I guess you mean speed enhancing, but then, increased heat retention is ultimately speed enhancing.

    Many folks limit the term "performance enhancing" to items which may increase speed. I would argue that anything that enables one to be in the water longer than they would be without it is a more accurate definition of PE for this activity.
    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
  • Why do we need to be thinking about making channel swims easier? Even arctic swims are swim able in speedos.
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