Pancake Pentathlon Swim Meet (San Diego)

Get ready for open-water season in Southern California with a pool meet! Join the San Diego Imperial LMSC for an SCY swim meet at the Mission Valley YMCA on Sunday, February 27, 2011. Warm-ups begin at 9 a.m., and the meet starts at 10 a.m. There is a $20 flat fee to enter in advance; the fee is $30 the day of.

Pancake Pentathlon Entry [.doc]

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“Open Water Swimming” is bicoastal

Allison recently moved to San Diego, Calif. What does this mean for readers? We’ll be featuring more events, race reports and open-water information from both sides of the United States. For those of you who are curious, she’ll be training with the UCSD Masters Swim Team (LMSC: San Diego Swim Masters) and the La Jolla Cove Swim club. Stay tuned to watch Open Water Swim become transcontinental!

La Jolla Cove

Swimming myths

Turnover vs. distance per stroke?  Bilateral vs. one-sided breathing?  And is there one ideal pacing strategy?  Courtesy of Alexandria Masters Swimming, consider these Swimming Myths (and truths).

More on the circumstances surrounding Fran Crippen’s death

Christine Jennings, who also swam in the 10K in which Fran Crippen died, spoke to the Washington Post about race conditions and her own experience, suggesting that both the warm water and a lack of race support likely contributed to Crippen’s death:

The other American, Christine Jennings, said she vomited several times in the water. Jennings, 23, got dizzy and veered off course. Fearing she would black out, she turned over and swam on her back with an arm in the air to signal her distress to the safety boats that are supposed to follow the swimmers in such races.

But when no one responded, Jennings struggled to the finish, where she staggered out of the water with the help of a fellow swimmer and was taken to a hospital.

“It was a disaster,” she said. “I’m floating on my back for several minutes, thinking ‘Why isn’t anybody checking on me?’ “

Jennings said she noticed a referee’s boat and several people on jet skis before the race, but not as many as typically patrol the water given swimmers’ vulnerability to extreme temperatures, jellyfish stings and other problems. U.S. teammate Eva Fabian, 17, rode in the same ambulance as Jennings to the hospital; both were treated for dehydration and heat exhaustion.

The Post also reports that, according to Crippen’s family, “On a death certificate sent Sunday night from the United Arab Emirates, heat exhaustion and drowning were listed as the causes of Fran Crippen’s death.”

In the LA Times, physician and swimmer Larry Wiesenthal said that “having a 10k (2 hour) race in 86 degree water is criminal.” Wiesenthal explained that dehydration, more than heat, would have been the greatest concern in this race.  A swimmer competing at race pace in 86-degree water would sweat profusely, he noted.

With swimming in warm water, you are killed not by heat stroke but by dehydration. More sinister than in running, where you are upright and you’ll faint/pass out in relatively early stages of dehydration, with swimming you are already lying down and can maintain blood flow to your brain. So you won’t pass out until you are so dehydrated that you essentially go into frank shock, with total circulatory collapse.

Could Crippen could have been saved had he been pulled from the water immediately upon collapse and received emergency medical care?  It may be impossible to know for certain.  However, Jennings stated that she tried to signal for help but that her efforts went unnoticed.  Many people have asked whether FINA needs to establish an upper limit on water temperatures, but race support seems to have been just as important an issue in this tragedy.


OW world mourns Fran Crippen’s death

Update: An AP story quotes the 10K winner, Thomas Lurz, arguing both that the water was too warm for racing and that there was insufficient in-water support.

The  news of Fran Crippen’s death during a 10K World Cup race in the United Arab Emirates has stunned and saddened the OW community, with wide speculation that high water temperatures (as high as 86 or 87 degrees F) were likely a significant contributing factor. (Several other swimmers were treated for exhaustion and deyhdration.) UAE swimming officials are reporting that he “died from overexertion,” which isn’t really saying anything.

OW World Cup swimmer Fran Crippen

Fran Crippen died Saturday during an OW 10K race in the United Arab Emirates

Crippen failed to finish the race, which apparently was the first point at which anyone realized he was missing.  (His body was found by divers two hours later.) Which makes me wonder what kind of in-water support the race was running. This wasn’t a mass-start triathlon with hundreds of swimmers in the water.  Were there enough support boats and rescue personnel on hand to monitor the swimmers?

There will certainly be many questions about whether Crippen’s death might have been prevented.  Already several sources have pointed out that FINA has a minimum, but no maximum, temperature limit for OW races.  Fingers will be pointed, blame will be thrown about.  At 10KSwimmer, however, Steven Munatones offers a moving tribute to the person and the swimmer.

Diana Nyad tries again: Cuba to Key West

At 61, Diana Nyad is hoping to attempt the swim she couldn’t complete in 1978: Cuba to the Keys.  She swam for nearly 42 hours in 1978, but was defeated by wind, waves, and current. (The story of Nyad’s 1978 swim can be read here in Sports Illustrated.)

Interestingly, Nyad apparently only got back in the water in 2009, after a 30-year hiatus, as noted in a story in the Miami Herald:

Nyad didn’t swim a single lap for three decades, from 1979-2009. “Major burnout,” explains the International Swimming Hall of Fame inductee, who kept busy as a journalist, speaker and radio commentator. “Couldn’t pay me to get in the water.”

This time, she plans to forgo the shark cage she swam with in 1978.  Ironically, however, at the moment the biggest threat to her swim appears to be bureaucratic:  she’s waiting for a travel visa from the Cuban government.

Per her USA swimming bio (long version), Eva Fabian (phenomenal young OW swimmer–she won the 5K at the 2009 Open Water National Championships and then in July 2010 won the women’s World Open Water 5K) trains 15,000 – 20,000 yards each day, 6 days a week.  Set your training goals, kids!