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Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"?
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English Channel swimmers consider their swims “unassisted and pure.” But they're not only wrong, they're hypocrites about it.


They make a really huge deal out wearing only a swimsuit, cap, and goggles (well, plus earplugs and nose plugs, as well as grease to protect against chafing, if you ask a little more). They mock triathletes for wearing wetsuits, and DQ a channel crosser for getting a hug before they reach dry land.


They also want Diana Nyad to call her swim “assisted” because she wore a thin suit/mask to protect against jellyfish, and because assistants helped her take it on/off while in the water. They're also really cranky about her escort boat putting out a streamer in the water for Nyad to follow. Apparently they want to protect the "integrity" of the EC rules.


However, the so-called “pure” English Channel rules allow the swimmer to be right next to a frickin' boat the entire frickin' swim!! This 30+ foot boat navigates, blocks chop and wind, and provides a huge draft for the adjacent swimmer (who, in the English Channel itself, must be within 5 meters of the boat at all times). The current EC record holder acknowledges swimming in the bow wave of his escort boat.


Any triathlete who has swam off the shoulder of another swimmer knows how big a draft that provides. Imagine the draft off the “shoulder” of a 30 foot boat!


Channel swimmers also have assistants who give them food and water at regular intervals (but there's a big, big deal made about the assistants not touching the swimmer).


Don't get me wrong—I give mad props to anyone who can swim 20+ miles in open water, even with the assistance of a boat. But I don't understand how they overlook their boat and assistants to call their swim “pure and unassisted,” and call using a sighting streamer or a thin, non-neoprene suit “assisted.”


Why is this important? Look at Everest. For decades, everyone who climbed it mounted expeditions with sherpas, oxygen, etc. And then Reinhold Messner climbed it solo and without oxygen, shattering the traditional norms in mountaineering. Now, people like Ueli Steck jog up the Matterhorn in a couple of hours and are home in time for morning espresso.


My point: Some day soon, some bad ass will swim a major channel truly solo. S/he will figure how to carry all the food/water needed, and will swim it without a boat escort (yes, taking the chance of being run over and killed by a ship). Truly solo, truly unassisted. No getting out of the water for lightning, sharks, cramping, puking and exhaustion. Swim across or die trying. It will make the swimmers who go by English Channel rules look like a bunch of tourists.


But the term “solo unassisted” is already claimed by the EC folks, even with their draft/navigation/safety boats and feeding assistants. So how will this amazing feat be recognized?!?


Summary: English Channel swimmers should back off the righteousness about their swim being “pure and unassisted.” It's not.
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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Next thing you know, you're going to have long course triathletes calling out the draft-legal crowd for turning triathlon into a running race.
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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My guess is that it's a similar concept for why triathletes get in a tithe about drafting during an IM. There are rules and we want them to be followed.

What gets me is that I don't remember Nyad ever saying that she was going to follow English Channel rules (I could be wrong about that). If she said so, then the EC people are semi-justified. If not, well then it's pretty similar to hating cross fit: gives us something to gripe about for no apparent good reason.






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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [cartsman] [ In reply to ]
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...and don't claim to have broken records of those who have followed said rules.
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [Tri-Banter] [ In reply to ]
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Nyad never claimed she would follow EC rules. The EC folks now want her to call her swim "assisted," which is fine and accurate.

I'm suggesting that the EC swimmers take a look in the mirror and also call their own swims "assisted."




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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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AlwaysCurious wrote:
The EC folks now want her to call her swim "assisted," which is fine and accurate.

Why wouldn't she just tell them to piss off?
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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In the same light, we should actually call every triathlon "draft legal" because even at the legal "non draft" distance, your "drafting" right?

Kinda similar idea would be my bet. There is some sorta "agreement" among a group and her swim wasnt following that agreement, thus wanting the clarification is my guess.

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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [Goosedog] [ In reply to ]
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Goosedog wrote:
AlwaysCurious wrote:
The EC folks now want her to call her swim "assisted," which is fine and accurate.


Why wouldn't she just tell them to piss off?

Because they're also questioning whether or not she took a ride on the boat for 7.5 hours, and they have a little data that suggests such a possibility. That's entertaining drama and all, but I'm more interested in the hypocrisy of calling their own rules "pure".




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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [BDoughtie] [ In reply to ]
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BDoughtie wrote:
In the same light, we should actually call every triathlon "draft legal" because even at the legal "non draft" distance, your "drafting" right?

Kinda similar idea would be my bet. There is some sorta "agreement" among a group and her swim wasnt following that agreement, thus wanting the clarification is my guess.

That's a good analogy, but I'd argue that if a cyclist really wants to see how fast he can ride 40k, he enters a time trial because there's little chance of drafting.

There's no similar category in OWS. The EC folks consider their swims the equivalent of a time trial, when in fact they're the equivalent of IMAZ.




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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [Goosedog] [ In reply to ]
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Goosedog wrote:

Why wouldn't she just tell them to piss off?

Yeah, I think she should. She can publish a book, do some motivational speaking seminars, go on swimming more if she wants. She did what she wanted to do and at that age it is a feat, so she can actually tell everyone to just pi$$ off.
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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But I think you missed my greater point. Whether they are hypocrites about it, I guess is debate, but I think what the organization simply wants to clarify, is that in fact she didnt really follow the "rules" that is widely accepted in the ows community.

ETA: Which was to my triathlon analogue. We call a "non draft" triathlon, non drafting, yet we actually "draft", but we widely accept it as not gaining any advantage.

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Last edited by: BDoughtie: Sep 10, 13 12:46
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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No boat, no goggles, no suit, no navigation, carry your own food. Cross a body of water like that. That'd be rad.

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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [BDoughtie] [ In reply to ]
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BDoughtie wrote:
But I think you missed my greater point. Whether they are hypocrites about it, I guess is debate, but I think what the organization simply wants to clarify, is that in fact she didnt really follow the "rules" that is widely accepted in the ows community.

The trouble is that dozens of ows governing bodies exist around world, few of which follow exactly the same rules. Some of the EC folks think that everyone should follow theirs. The Florida Strait isn't under the "jurisdiction" of any organization, simply because so few people have tried to swim it.

The analogy would be USAT claiming some triathlon record wasn't legit because the race wasn't USAT sanctioned and didn't follow some USAT rule that may or may not be arcane and irrelevant.




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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [texafornia] [ In reply to ]
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texafornia wrote:
No boat, no goggles, no suit, no navigation, carry your own food. Cross a body of water like that. That'd be rad.

Yes!!! It doesn't even need to be 110 miles to be ultra bad ass. Has it even been done for 20?




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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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I thought the biggest English Channel swimming rule is that you have to cross the "English Channel."
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [texafornia] [ In reply to ]
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texafornia wrote:
No boat, no goggles, no suit, no navigation, carry your own food. Cross a body of water like that. That'd be rad.

Outside food would be assistance. Instead, you must catch and kill your own food en route.

"The right to party is a battle we have fought, but we'll surrender and go Amish... NOT!" -Wayne Campbell
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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AlwaysCurious wrote:

The analogy would be USAT claiming some triathlon record wasn't legit because the race wasn't USAT sanctioned and didn't follow some USAT rule that may or may not be arcane and irrelevant.

OK, I could see the USAT doing that and saying that it maintains the record book for the USAT sanctioned races only. What's wrong with that? It doesn't discredit someone's fast time at the BFE Triathlon World Championships.
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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AlwaysCurious wrote:
texafornia wrote:
No boat, no goggles, no suit, no navigation, carry your own food. Cross a body of water like that. That'd be rad.


Yes!!! It doesn't even need to be 110 miles to be ultra bad ass. Has it even been done for 20?

Surely. At least to escape a marauding gang of Vikings or the like. All this first-world "sport" stuff is just us re-enacting survival methods entrained in our genes, the same stuff that has helped us survive since the dawn of time. Whoever fell off a boat in the ocean and drifted to shore the longest distance is the best swimmer ever. Lots of the world still has people running and swimming for their lives every day. Either to catch food or escape getting killed. Us doing it is just the play version of the real thing - like kittens batting around a ping-pong ball.

Sperm carry their own fuel, too. Original swimmers. :)

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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [Goosedog] [ In reply to ]
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She has and from what i undersatand she's alienated most of her community by being generally unpleasant towards them for several decades. She's set herself up as a target and now using their valid critisms as evidence that they are just haters to build publicity
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [Goosedog] [ In reply to ]
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Goosedog wrote:
AlwaysCurious wrote:


The analogy would be USAT claiming some triathlon record wasn't legit because the race wasn't USAT sanctioned and didn't follow some USAT rule that may or may not be arcane and irrelevant.


OK, I could see the USAT doing that and saying that it maintains the record book for the USAT sanctioned races only. What's wrong with that? It doesn't discredit someone's fast time at the BFE Triathlon World Championships.

----

Kind of like WTC refusing to acknowledge the pro times in Roth.....


----
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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The analogy would be USAT claiming some triathlon record wasn't legit because the race wasn't USAT sanctioned and didn't follow some USAT rule that may or may not be arcane and irrelevant.//

There are no triathlon world records, or any other that course records as far as i know. And USAT does disallow all races not sanctioned with them in their eyes. They do not count in the rankings that they publish every year..

And people do not draft off of their escort boats, or use them to block chop. If they do then the observer is supposed to say something. Can't recall the exact distance, but swimmers have to be off to the side of their boats. What we have found that swimming too close to the side ends up being a huge disadvantage. The cross chop that comes off the boat makes a washing machine for the swimmer, so we always keep our guy well off to the side and a bit in front of the boat..

Listen, it is just one set of rules like you say, but if you want to be recognized as a record holder or even world record holder, then you have to abide by them. Does not mean you cannot go and do a crossing using your own guidelines, in fact someone already swam across that cuba channel before Diana did. It is just that once you do one of these big swims, you need to state how you did it so that future swimmers know what they are up against. I'm part of a team that has and is attempting again the first solo sea of cortez crossing. We plan to go by the rules stated if at all possible, that would give us the actual world record for a solo swim. But if we have to punt at some point and bend or break a rule, we will state what that was and it will be recorded as such. You are getting too wrapped up in the word unassisted, there really is no such thing technically. It would be like the proverbial tree in the forest, if no one is there to see it, did it really fall?? All sport have rules that govern them, this one is no different. Keeps folks from making outlandish claims and making it a mockery.


I do hope however that she swam all the way across. Don't care much about little infractions like being touched or touching a boat, never was her intention in the first place to abide by those rules. If it was then she would have had to hire the neutral observer in the first place, which they did not, so it was never even a 1% part of the plan to begin with.. If she did swim it all it will go down as such and with the caveats that she did a few things outside of the ECR's. WOn't diminish her swim at all, in fact she will have done exactly what she set out to do.
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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [Goosedog] [ In reply to ]
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Goosedog wrote:
AlwaysCurious wrote:


The analogy would be USAT claiming some triathlon record wasn't legit because the race wasn't USAT sanctioned and didn't follow some USAT rule that may or may not be arcane and irrelevant.


OK, I could see the USAT doing that and saying that it maintains the record book for the USAT sanctioned races only. What's wrong with that? It doesn't discredit someone's fast time at the BFE Triathlon World Championships.

Agreed. It would just look a little silly to trumpet that fact about a race that happened, in, say, England.




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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [texafornia] [ In reply to ]
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texafornia wrote:
AlwaysCurious wrote:
texafornia wrote:
No boat, no goggles, no suit, no navigation, carry your own food. Cross a body of water like that. That'd be rad.


Yes!!! It doesn't even need to be 110 miles to be ultra bad ass. Has it even been done for 20?


Surely. At least to escape a marauding gang of Vikings or the like. All this first-world "sport" stuff is just us re-enacting survival methods entrained in our genes, the same stuff that has helped us survive since the dawn of time. Whoever fell off a boat in the ocean and drifted to shore the longest distance is the best swimmer ever. Lots of the world still has people running and swimming for their lives every day. Either to catch food or escape getting killed. Us doing it is just the play version of the real thing - like kittens batting around a ping-pong ball.

Sperm carry their own fuel, too. Original swimmers. :)

Excellent points you make! I like your perspective on the world.




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Re: Why do English Channel swimmers consider their swim "unassisted"? [AlwaysCurious] [ In reply to ]
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AlwaysCurious wrote:
Goosedog wrote:
AlwaysCurious wrote:
The EC folks now want her to call her swim "assisted," which is fine and accurate.


Why wouldn't she just tell them to piss off?


Because they're also questioning whether or not she took a ride on the boat for 7.5 hours, and they have a little data that suggests such a possibility. That's entertaining drama and all, but I'm more interested in the hypocrisy of calling their own rules "pure".

I kind of agree with you, though I wouldn't go as far as to call it hypocrisy. The reason original EC crosser didn't use a wetsuit wasn't because they were trying to be pure. It was because DAN hadn't invented them. Still, I respect that they attempt to have rules.
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