PDA

View Full Version : What do you like in an open water swim race?



freestylesail
March 1st, 2012, 11:55 AM
I'm thinking of organizing a 10K open water swim race for 2013, mostly because there isn't one in our whole state that I know of (Texas...has anyone heard of a 10K here?) and we have a great venue. I've only done a few open water races, so I'd love advice from those of you who have done others. What makes a good race? Any special touches you appreciate? Anything you hate?

Some things I've gathered from my own experience and from reading through past threads on here:

- Accurate timing is important (we have a local timing company with a proven swim timing system, I'll work on getting a sponsor that would offset the cost of using them)
- Figure out rules for wetsuit/non wetsuit awards and apparel and make these clear in advance
- Figure out what to serve at feeding stations and have cups that aren't too tiny
- Our venue would allow for either a point-to-point course or a multi-lap course. Point-to-point seems more interesting, but more logistically challenging, because it would be harder to offer other distances (I was thinking the 10K field would be pretty small, so we could also offer a 5K and either a mile or 1K to allow more people to participate). Another option would be different out-and-back legs in opposite directions from the start beach. What do you think about how to handle this?

Thanks so much for any ideas.

Rob Copeland
March 2nd, 2012, 10:56 AM
Personally,

Accurate timing isnít that important. Accurate distance, YES. Accurate order of finish, YES. Open water timing, not so much. However, outsourcing timing does eliminate one major aspect of race management.


What makes a good race? Any special touches you appreciate? Anything you hate?

Likes:
Well marked course (6ft buoys every 500M is nice), with course maps (showing all buoys) available before hand. Turn buoys different than in-line course buoys.
Point-to-point or loop course
For 10K at least 2 feeding stations (around 4K and 7.5K) with water or more (longer races should also have carb drinks)
Good pre-race briefing
Trained safety boat personnel
Music and announcer on the beach
Food and drink at finish
Timely awards (you donít need to wait for the last finisher to know who placed where)
Water temp 82 or below

Dislike:
Out-and-back course, too many head on collision opportunities
Packed starts, too many people in a small start area
Power boats too close or up-wind of the course
Shallow water courses where you can run aground during the race
Warm water swims that mandate use of latex caps (make them optional or provide light colored lycra caps)


Either way:
Beach v in-water start/finish (provided the beach and shallows are cleaned of hazards)
Wetsuit v non-wetsuit, provided they are scored in different categories

Ken Classen
March 2nd, 2012, 11:10 AM
A few thoughts. I like point to point 10K's, I have done the http://www.horsetoothswim.com/ a point to point many times and it's fun. But when planning a open water race/swim a couple of things. 1. Never underestimate the amount of work it takes to put on a good race. It's a big deal to do it right, you need to be the kind of person who can see it through. 2. Safety, safety, safety! Every decision made always needs to be done with safety of the participants in mind. For example the above race requires permits from the park, the County's water search rescue team is on site, each swimmer is required to have personal kayak/canoe escort. Some of reasons for this, there is other boat traffic on the lake including power boats, in the middle of the lake there is no immediate rescue available other then the personal escort etc. 3. Cultivate a committed group of volunteers. You need to people you can count on to make this happen. Consider making the event a fund raiser for a local non-profit as that group can help supply the needed volunteers. There is so much more, start making a check list now to see if you want to make the commitment.

swimthegoodfight
March 2nd, 2012, 02:03 PM
where's / wnat's the venue, i.e. body of water?

point-to-point and loops work... simple out-and-back not perfect...

I am thankful for anyone willing to host an event of any length - thank you

geochuck
March 2nd, 2012, 06:47 PM
I prefer a half mile course with a barge at the quarter mile mark. Big turning bouys with flags marking the half mile,

The barge can be used as a feeding station. Judges and timers can count and time the swimmers as they swim by. Swimmers start on the beach and finish on the beach. Kyaks or row boats can be placed along the course for safety.

This method has been used at the CNE and many swims all over the place. You could also use a triangle or a square course could also be used. CNE had over 100,000 watch such a race. Spectators can watch the whole race.

freestylesail
March 3rd, 2012, 09:03 AM
The swim would be in Corpus Christi Bay. We have a beautiful venue--a sandy downtown beach with a bleacher-like seawall great for spectators, plenty of free parking, a hotel right there, and warm weather. A point-to-point course could start at the university and end downtown for exactly a 10k, the prevailing wind and slight current would be in swimmers' favor making some fun swell to swim in, and there are parks along the way where aid people could park and stage feeding stations, etc. Or, it would be possible to do a multi-loop course all at the downtown beach, which would make it easier to offer multiple distances and keep a better eye on people.

Check out these pictures. This link shows the start if we did a point to point. It would start on the beach on this little island and continue north to downtown.
http://imagegallery.tamucc.edu/main.php?g2_itemId=7717

This link shows the downtown beach that would either be the finish location for the point to point or the main location if it were a loop or multiple lap.
http://lighthouse.tamucc.edu/CHR/McgeeBeachTest

For about three decades we had a triathlon here billed as the "toughest swim in Texas" (although I personally think highland lakes is a lot tougher, having done both), but anyway it was billed that way because our bay gets very choppy and we routinely have high winds. Well, maybe not surprisingly, over the years there was a lot of complaining about the swim, waiting until the last minute to see weather forecast before registering, not registering at all, etc, and first the event created a duathlon option to let people avoid the swim, and finally this year the event has moved inside a protective marina where the water is just about completely flat. Now I'm not a super fast swimmer, but I love the rough water, and this was our signature local event, so I'm sad to see the bay swim gone. I'd like to continue a swim in the bay and let others experience how much fun it is. A little chop is like the difference between a road run and a trail run--it makes things interesting. I've done a lot of events--road races, tris, adventure races, trail runs, open water swims, etc--and volunteered/managed to various extents, although I've never been a race director. Also, my board positions on a couple local athletic organizations just ended, so I'm looking for something new to get involved with. I think that between my background and the people I know and starting planning in advance for maybe 2013, I could get together a team, sponsors, etc to make this happen.

Thanks so much; your comments have been really helpful, I'd love any others, and I'm looking forward to my own first 10K swim this April, where I also expect to learn a lot.

Fresnoid
March 3rd, 2012, 09:08 AM
What I want in an open water race is clear 80+ water, no current or waves and a line on the bottom. :)

evmo
March 3rd, 2012, 10:41 AM
What I want in an open water race is clear 80+ water, no current or waves and a line on the bottom. :)

What's funny is, this was almost literally the case in the 2008 Olympic 10K in Beijing. "Almost" literally only because the "line on the bottom" was a cable below the surface instead of an actual line on the bottom.

Herb
March 3rd, 2012, 11:22 PM
I haven't found one yet but I would like a kegger at the end. That and crystal clear water in the 70s, beautiful women, and a live band on a sand dune.

freestylesail
March 5th, 2012, 06:43 AM
Depending on turnout there could literally be a keg at the end :). There will be beer, it's just a question of keg vs. bottles. I'm surprised to hear this isn't common!? At runs it's pretty common.

timsroot
March 5th, 2012, 08:11 AM
The swim would be in Corpus Christi Bay.

If you got that together, I would happily drive down to Corpus Christi to swim a 10k. I really enjoy the time I've spent in Corpus.

Rob Copeland
March 5th, 2012, 08:59 AM
I haven't found one yet but I would like a kegger at the end. That and crystal clear water in the 70s, beautiful women, and a live band on a sand dune.Then I suggest you attend the King of the Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ.


Kegger -check:chug:
Crystal clear water in the 70s -check:drowning:
Beautiful women -check:cheerleader:
Live band on a sand dune -check:dj_dance:
And don’t forget the barbecue:turkey:

swimthegoodfight
March 5th, 2012, 03:07 PM
i swam the pre-swim last year for the corpus triathlon and would swim corpus christi bay again. because of pre-swim conditions / results, they made the triathlon a run - bike - run.

the pre-race swim was Saturday afternoon, May 14, 2011, and the wind was a little much, and probably much greater than in the morning. They decided next day's triathlon would skip the swim.

nevertheless I would do a swim there again. What do i like an open water race?... among a few things an 8:00 am start.

MickYoung
March 5th, 2012, 06:48 PM
I like many kayaks, clear water, and a friendly gathering at the end.

My favorite "race" usually ends up with more than one kayak for each racer.

http://teallakeswim.com/home

freestylesail
March 6th, 2012, 12:49 PM
i swam the pre-swim last year for the corpus triathlon and would swim corpus christi bay again. because of pre-swim conditions / results, they made the triathlon a run - bike - run.

the pre-race swim was Saturday afternoon, May 14, 2011, and the wind was a little much, and probably much greater than in the morning. They decided next day's triathlon would skip the swim.

nevertheless I would do a swim there again. What do i like an open water race?... among a few things an 8:00 am start.

Really? I did the swim too. Everyone else in my division dropped out due to the jellyfish, so I "won" overall (if you could call it that...haha...I would estimate I got 50+ stings). We had always held the tri in April before the jellyfish arrive. Last year an organizing group from Austin had taken over and wanted to move it to May...lesson learned not to have a swim there in May. The swim I'd like to have would be planned to avoid jellyfish season.

that was actually considered a "calm" day for here.

mjtyson
March 7th, 2012, 03:05 AM
I'd like water at the completion and food. Also a t-shirt. Also, safety. Also, I'd like swimmers disqual'd if they swim a race with a pull buoy.

All of this has been lacking in one or more of my limited experience (6) open water swims.

Kevin in MD
March 22nd, 2012, 05:10 PM
I think for locals or somewhat locals, a point to point is nice. "Hey Fred, how far was the swim last weekend?"

"It was from Corpus City Beach across to Jimmy's fish shock on the other side." It gives a nice frame of reference. Here in Maryland, we have the "I swam the length of the bay bridge" opportunity.

For people from out of town, I don't think it's as big of a deal.

Like others noted, I am happy for each andevery opportunity to race open water no matter the situation.

orca1946
March 26th, 2012, 12:10 PM
BIG route markers
Correct distance
Correct time for finishers
safety boats that really watch troubled swimmers
some type of food at the end

Michael Heather
March 26th, 2012, 11:11 PM
Likes: 500 m buoys every 6 ft for the near sighted.

Figure eight course to incite collisions and make for excellent viewing opportunities.

Special wool suit division for the old timers (and bankers).

Fresnoid
March 27th, 2012, 01:05 AM
Likes: 500 m buoys every 6 ft for the near sighted.

Figure eight course to incite collisions and make for excellent viewing opportunities.

Special wool suit division for the old timers (and bankers).

I've done two OW races & I'll never do another one without wearing my contacts (they work fine with goggles). I was slaloming all over the place trying to spot the buoys until I figured out to just follow any splashing in front of me.