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Sample Kayaker's Guide for Open Water Swimmers

Sample Kayaker's Guide for Open Water Swimmers

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Published by Steven Munatones
A sample kayaker's guide for open water swimmers.

For more information on open water swimming, visit
http://www.openwatersource.com
http://www.dailynewsofopenwaterswimming.com
http://www.imshof.org
http://www.10Kswim.com
A sample kayaker's guide for open water swimmers.

For more information on open water swimming, visit
http://www.openwatersource.com
http://www.dailynewsofopenwaterswimming.com
http://www.imshof.org
http://www.10Kswim.com

More info:

Published by: Steven Munatones on Nov 14, 2010
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01/27/2011

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Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

Sample Kayaker’s Guide For Open Water Swimmers This is a sample guide for open water swims that have a 1:1 ratio for kayakers and swimmers. This is not meant to specifically address your event or responsibilities, but is a general guideline for reference purposes: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Water Conditions Rules The Start and The Transitions Support Navigation The Finish Logistics Kayaking Tricks and Hints

1 WATER CONDITIONS 1.1 There may be rain, fog or mist early in the race that may turn into blistering heat later in the race – or the moisture in the air may continue day. Properly prepare yourself to be comfortable in these myriad conditions and temperatures. Consider wearing a wetsuit or other cold-weather gear as necessary – as well as head covering and sunglasses. There may also be large surf at the start and at the finish. At the very least, there will be some sort of waves on the coastline that you must navigate through. Be prepared to get through the surf zone with all of your equipment and the equipment and fueling and hydration products for your swimmer. This can be tricky and dangerous if you are capsized going through the surf. Ask for help if you need it. There will be lifeguards and volunteers to help you through the surf – but be prepared to get through the surf by yourself. Your swimmer cannot compete without you so they are dependent upon your success in getting out beyond the breakers.

The two possible extremes in the Pacific Ocean – be prepared for both.
Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones

Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

1.2 On race day, the water conditions in the ocean may vary from glassy smooth to turbulent with high surf and whitecaps. Prepare yourself to handle the entire range of possible water conditions. Both close to shore (waves and rip currents) and outside the surf zone (surface chop, jellyfish, dolphin and ocean swells), be prepared for all possible situations. Practice, practice, practice. If you have problems keeping balanced if there is significant surface chop or whitecaps, call over the lifeguards and ask for assistance. 1.3 If lightening and exceptionally high surf or rough conditions occur on race day, the event will be cancelled. The decision of the Referee, in consultation with the lifeguards, will be final. Safety first. 1.4 Of course, if at any time, you believe your swimmer has reached their physical and mental limits, immediately call the lifeguards and allow your swimmer to hang on and rest of your kayak. 2 WATER TEMPERATURE 2.1 The water temperature may vary from 55°F – 68°F 55°F – 68°F with fluctuating water temperatures throughout the course depending on the currents, winds and waves. If the water temperature is outside this expected range, the Referee shall make this announcement before the race. Even if your swimmer wears a wetsuit, they may get cold during the race, especially towards the end. NEVER LET YOUR ATHLETE GO BEYOND WHAT THEY ARE CAPABLE OF, EVEN IF THEY REQUEST YOU TO LEAVE THEM IN THE WATER UNTIL THEY HAVE TO BE FORCED OR PULLED OUT. If you think your swimmer is getting cold, ask them their telephone number or name of their high school or birthdates of their children or any other simple questions that they should immediately know. If your swimmer cannot answer these simple questions, immediately call the lifeguards over and get your swimmer out of the water. While they may be disappointed at not finishing, they will live another day to do other sports and other swims. If you think your swimmer may have problems with the ocean temperatures, you may try providing them with warmed drinks – not chilled drinks. However, the swimmers must practice ahead of time to become accustomed to drinking warm drinks in the open water. 2 RULES 2.1 There are a few important deviations from the standard open water swimming rules governing the sport at the Olympics and FINA World Swimming Championships. The rules of the local amateur swims are largely aimed at the safety and enjoyment of the average athlete. Most races follow the standard FINA rules but there are exceptions. For example, in a few races like the Distance Swim Challenge, you may allow your swimmer to touch and hang on your support kayaks at any time and for any length of time during the race. However, please refrain from pulling along your swimmer. This is against the race rules. Of course, unsportsmanlike conduct by you or your swimmer – such as pulling, dunking, sinking,
Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones

Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

scratching or veering off another swimmer – will not be tolerated and are grounds for immediate disqualification. 2.2 In some races, the course will be parallel to the shoreline and will be marked by a series of marine buoys. In other cases, the course is an out-and-back course or a loop course or a point-to-point course. Pay close attention to the direction in which you and your swimmer must swim (e.g., left-shoulder turns, right-shoulder turns or a combination of both around the turn buoys). At certain locations, especially when there is boat, JetSki, surf ski, wind surfing or kite surfing cross traffic, you and your swimmer must exercise EXTREME caution. DO NOT ASSUME ANY WATERCRAFT WILL SEE OR STOP FOR YOU OR YOUR SWIMMER. DO NOT ASSUME YOU HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY. BE CAUTIOUS AND CAREFUL. GIVE WIDE BERTH TO ALL WATERCRAFT, BOATS, JET SKIS, WIND SURFERS AND KITE SURFERS. 2.3 In some courses, there may be time limits. If you and your swimmer do not reach certain points by certain times, you and your swimmer will be asked to leave the course. 2.4 For all races, if you are not finished by a certain time, you and your swimmer will be asked to leave the course. This is usually a race requirement or a local permit requirement. 2.5 Keep your swimmer within 10 meters of you. DO NOT ALLOW YOUR SWIMMER TO SWIM OFF BY THEMSELVE. You should be positioned parallel to your swimmer on their predominant breathing side. There are some occasional exceptions to this rule: at the start, finish or in and around the transition areas where the swimmers will proceed by themselves. 3 THE START AND TRANSITIONS 3.1 In some races, kayakers must be in position outside the surf zone 10 minutes before the start of the race. Discuss with your swimmer where and how you will meet them outside the surf zone prior to the start of the race. 3.2 The start may be sounded by an air horn. Sometimes, 10-minute, 5-minute, 3-minute and 1-minute warnings will also be given, although you may not hear these pre-race warnings when you are out in the water past the surf zone. 3.3 Wear some colorful or distinctive clothing or a hat so your swimmer can more easily recognize you in the water. 3.4 As your swimmer gets past the surf zone and starts to head around the course, kayak over to your swimmer WITHOUT impeding the progress of other swimmers. DO NOT KAYAK OVER OR IN FRONT OF OTHER COMPETITORS. UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT ON YOUR PART WILL BE GROUNDS FOR IMMEDIATE DISQUALIFICATION OF YOUR SWIMMER. Kayak up behind your swimmer or wave to your swimmer so they can swim out to your position. Once you and your swimmer have teamed up, then proceed around the course as instructed.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones

Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

3.5 You can take any line to the next transition, but it is highly recommended that you stay clear of the surf zone. You are the eyes and ears of your swimmer and they should follow you. 3.6 At the end of each leg (1.2 or 2.4 miles in length), your swimmer must swim into the beach, proceed (walk or run) up the shore and check in with the medical staff. They will then return and swim back out through the surf zone. Wait for your swimmer outside the surf zone and transition buoys. If in the judgment of the medical staff, your swimmer is not prepared to continue with the remainder of the race, they will be asked to either rest on shore or withdraw from the race. 3.7 If your swimmer is withdrawn from the race, you have a choice. You can come into shore and support your swimmer – or you may continue kayaking to either the start or finish, helping out other swimmers and kayakers as you wish. 3.8 Some race rules will dictate that only swimmers can swim into each transition. Under these rules, stay away from the transition area. 3.9 All swimmers will have their competition number clearly displayed at least on one part of their body (upper back, arms or bank of hands). Know your swimmer’s number. You may also be given a race bib with the same number, depending on the race organization. SUPPORT 4.1 You must be physically capable of kayaking for the entire distance and experienced enough to carry your supplies and hand your food and drink in the water to your swimmer while balancing on your kayak. Although there will be other kayaks and safety watercraft on the course, your swimmer is completely dependent upon you for navigation, feeding and hydration. 4.2 It is extremely important to keep eye contact with your swimmer at all times. You must also provide them with food and/or drink at least every 30 minutes. The food and drink is entirely up to your swimmer but you need to keep your swimmer well-hydrated and –fueled. 4.3 Determine your best line from transition area to transition area or from turn buoy to turn buoy. Keep your kayak parallel to your swimmer so you can guide them on the straightest or most optimal course at all times. If there are oncoming waves or swells, you may want to adjust your tangent to take advantage of the elements. Conversely, if there are waves or swells pushing you northwards along the course, modify your course to benefit from Mother Nature. Before the race, the Referee will inform you of the conditions – which may change throughout the day. In any case, remain diligent and vigil at all times. 4.4 You may see marine life on the course – it could range from fish, kelp and jellyfish to dolphins and sharks. You will be in their ecosystem so remain calm and collected even in the worse scenario. Ideally, bring your mobile phone in a waterproof bag or a whistle in case of an emergency. If you think you see a shark, immediately confirm with another kayaker or lifeguard in the area. Blow your whistle and immediately call or radio the race officials. Have
Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones

Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

your swimmer get on your kayak or swim to shore. Alert the other kayakers and swimmers in the area. If your swimmer is stung by jellyfish, they will be disappointed, frustrated or hurt. Household vinegar or standard first-aid products like StingMate® or Safe Sea Lotion can be applied on the skin. If they have an allergic reaction, immediately call the lifeguards and seek medical assistance. 4.5 Remain in constant eye contact with your swimmer. The mid-point of the kayak should be parallel to your swimmer, near your head and within your swimmer’s line of sight. Videos of experienced kayakers can be found at http://www.openwatersource.com/kayaking-andescorting.html. Photos are below for your reference:

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones

Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

4.6 Do not impede or come in contact with any other swimmer. You must go around or stay clear of other swimmers. If you hit or (purposefully or unintentionally) veer other swimmers off of their preferred course, you will be warned and/or disqualified. 4.7 Take an extra pair of goggles and swim cap for your swimmer, just in case. 5 NAVIGATION 5.1 If an ocean course runs parallel to shore, always be aware of your surroundings and possible large sets of waves, flotsam, jetsam or kelp that may be in the path of your swimmer. Kayak as straight as possible, although your swimmer may swim crookedly at times. Yell or whistle at your swimmer if they get too far away from you. Lake courses are often easier to navigate through the elements, but winds can cause navigational difficulties and rain or fog can impact your visibility. In those cases, be in constant contact with the race officials, especially if the race continues and is not postponed or cancelled. 5.2 Wave your arms or use pre-determined hand signals to help direct your swimmer. If your swimmer wants to maintain a certain stroke count (e.g., 60 strokes per minute), then you can always raise one finger upwards to indicate 61 strokes per minute and two fingers downwards to indicate 58 strokes per minute. Everyone may have a different type of hand signals. Your swimmer will appreciate the information and support you constantly provide them. 5.3 Memorize the course. Take the course map with you in a plastic bag to protect it from the water. Some race directors may laminate the race course for you – or you may want to laminate a copy of the race course for your easy reference. The buoys may be very far apart and may not be exactly along the straight-line tangent due to waves, currents, wind chop or misplaced anchors. Your swimmer will be constantly curious as to their position and how far they have gone and the remaining distance in the race or to the next transition. Try to know where you are at all times and have a good idea of your position so you can inform your swimmer. If you do not know where you are, ask another kayaker, race official on the course or a lifeguard. Above all, avoid telling your swimmer, “I do not know.” They want information and it is your responsibility to provide them with this information. 5.4 Stay positive. Remain engaged. Smile. Clap. Yell encouragement. Do not complain or tell your swimmer that you are tired or hurting. They will feed off of your energy and are dependent upon your support. Help them realize their goals on race day. 5.5 Take sufficient food and drink for yourself along the course. You need to hydrate and refuel too. Hydrate well before the race and get a good breakfast if you normally take breakfast. Swimmers and kayaker take gel packs, chocolate, bananas, energy bars or energy drinks during the race. Any form of food, drink or sustenance is allowed as long as it does not include alcohol or drugs on the United States Anti-Drug Testing Agency (USADA) or World Anti-Drug Testing Agency (WADA) banned list. 5.6 If you need to urinate, do not be shy. Jump overboard for a little tinkle or, as others have done in the past, just go (and then use the ocean or lake water for a rinsing – bring a disposable cup that will be handy in this case).
Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones

Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

5.7 Refrain from navigating through a pack of swimmers with your kayak. 5.8 Take binoculars with you that can help you sight over long distances. Bring a watch so you can tell your swimmer how long they have been in the water, if they ask. 5.9 Be environmentally friendly on the course. If your swimmer uses plastic or disposable cups, pick up their trash and bring it to shore for proper disposal. 6 THE FINISH 6.1 In cases of emergency abandonment of the event, the race results will be calculated from the final position in the water. That is, whoever has swum the greatest distance will be deemed the winner. 6.2 Do not kayak into the finish with your swimmer. Swing very wide of the finish area to a separate area. 7 LOGISTICS 7.1 You are generally responsible for securing your own ground transportation between the start and the finish of the race. 7.2 If you or your swimmer stop somewhere before the finish of the race, you must immediately inform the race officials of your status. 8 KAYAKING TRICKS AND HINTS 8.1 You are much better positioned to know the optimal course than your swimmer. However, your swimmer may have a mind of their own and may swim off in tangents to the left and to the right. It is your responsibility to bring them back to the optimal course. Do not let your swimmer guide you. If you must position your kayak so your swimmer swims into the kayak, that is OK. The swimmer will learn to stay positioned near you. 8.2 Position your kayak on the side where your swimmer most often breathes. There is no need for your swimmer to frequently sight and lift their head upwards to look forward. Counsel them to depend on your navigational skills and direction. Currents may push your swimmer off of the straight-line tangent, but encourage your athlete to stick right next to you. 8.3 Decide on a set fueling and hydration schedule (e.g., every 20 – 30 minutes) and stick to that schedule as possible. Raise your paddle above your head with two hands to indicate to your swimmer when it is time to stop and fuel/hydrate. 8.4 If your swimmer cramps up, gets cold or starts to complain, let me hang onto the kayak and work things out physically or emotionally. You know your swimmer best. Help them get through this challenge.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones

Open Water Source

www.openwatersource.com

8.5 Have a small colored towel to wave to your swimmer or the safety personnel along the course if there is any problem. Make sure to bring a whistle and do not be afraid to use it. 8.6 Enjoy and take pictures when you can. Your swimmer will enjoy the memories after the race is over.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones

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