Reach the Beach - Chicago

Swim Procedures - Rules - Strategy

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Swimmer

Relay Race
Swim Procedures - Rules - Strategy

1.  Age Requirement:  Team members must be at least 18 years of age on the date they REGISTER to enter the swim. 

2.  Cut-Off Time & Minimum Swimming Pace Required:  The cut-off time for this 22-mile swim is 15 hours.  Teams who have not finished the swim in 15 hours (by sunset) will have their swimmers pulled from the water.  Swimmers will be returned to the marina at the port of embarkation.

 

To meet the 15-hour cut-off time, a team’s 4 swimmers must collectively average no less than

1.466 miles per hour (covering .7333 mile in a 30-minute swim interval), and average no more than 40.909 minutes per mile

 

 

Strategy: 

 

Each swimmer will have 1.5 hours of rest between 30-minute swim intervals.  Train to see how hard you can swim for 30 minutes, knowing on game day you will have this rest period before you must swim again.  Remember however, that having to answer the bell repeatedly over the length of this swim can take its’ toll and you will need to stay loose.  Train to build your strength accordingly.  Two-a-day swims, or even occasional multiple daily swims, with short rest periods and stretching is a good exercise. 

 

Lake conditions on game day will play a prominent role in your team’s performance.  Train in the open water as much as possible to gauge how your pool times translate to the open water in various conditions.  Practice swimming against the current, as the direction and intensity of surface currents may change throughout the course of this lengthy swim.   

 

Reach the Beach - Chicago NOTE:  Historically, prevailing westerly winds produce some level of a surface current blowing out to sea (to the east as you get out of the near-shore currents curling into the beach).  This means odds are that you will have some level of favorable surface current on the outbound and some level of adverse current on the return. While early July conditions are often relatively benign, one should be prepared to swim against the current when you may be tiring.  Training!  Training!  Training! 

 

*  Boarding:  Practice repeatedly hoisting yourself out of the water on to a pool deck or dock when tired.  On game day you will need to climb a swim ladder or pull yourself into a dinghy in tow to board your Team Support Boat.  While this generally should be no problem for well-conditioned swimmers (and you will have assistance), please keep in mind that boarding can be more difficult in rough seas.  If it is calm, using the swim ladder is probably your best bet.  If it is rough, hoisting yourself onto the soft-shell dinghy is a much better choice, as swim ladders often become quite unstable; plus, your Captain will not allow you to use a ladder if positioned on the down-current side of the hard-hulled boat in bad conditions.  If possible, practicing boarding a boat in rough seas is a good exercise for your team. 

 

 

3.  Whistle Always Means STOP (Red Flag Also Used for Scheduled Stops):  The team’s Lifeguard will blow their whistle to stop swimmers anytime the team’s dedicated support boat is stopping.  The Team Support Boat is scheduled to stop every 30 minutes to transition swimmers and the Lifeguard will wave a red flag in addition to sounding their whistle for all scheduled stops.  The Lifeguard will stop the boat anytime swimmers make a prolonged stop (defined as allowing the swimmer to fall out of position beside the moving boat – see #4 below).  The Lifeguard will stop the boat immediately if a swimmer is observed holding on to an object for support. 

 

Swimmers are asked to get the attention of their Lifeguard with hand signals anytime they make a “prolonged stop” before the next scheduled stop.  Please yell out also if you can.  The Lifeguard will respond to the swimmer’s signal by blowing their whistle, relaying the signal to the Captain to stop the boat. 

 

Hand Signals:  Swimmers stopping but not intending to board and not in need of assistance should raise a fist in the air.  Swimmers needing to board the boat before their 30- minute interval time is up and able to get to the boat without assistance in the water, should raise a fist in the air, then point at the boat.  Swimmers needing the Lifeguard to enter the water to assist them should extend an arm above their head and wave their hand, if able. 

 

 

4.  Must Swim Beside Team Support Boat:  Swimmers must swim beside the boat, always remaining between the bow and the dinghy in tow (trailing 20 feet behind the vessel).  Swimming behind the boat is not permitted.  Swimmers may choose whether they wish to swim on the port or starboard side and should try to swim approximately 20 feet from the side of the vessel, referred to as the “safe” position. 

 

The Boat will make no forward progress unless a single swimmer is in the water and in motion, swimming in the “safe” position beside the boat.  The Captain will match your swimming speed and steer you in the right direction. 

 

NOTE:  Swimmers should remain visually aware of their position relative to the boat so they can SEE if the boat has stopped in case they do not HEAR the Lifeguard’s whistle. We hope not to be forced into prohibiting audio devices with ear buds.

 

Strategy:  If you do not breathe bi-laterally, choose the proper side of the boat to swim on so the boat is easier to keep within your field of vision.  One side of the boat may also be more favorable to shield you from waves.   

 

 

5.  Only 1 Swimmer in the Water at a Time:  Each member of the relay team swims separate intervals.

 

Finish Line Exception:  At the approach to the finish where the boat stops in shallow water, all team members still in the race must swim to the finish line.  Team members disqualified from the race may swim to the finish line at their option.  The team’s official finishing time is recorded when the last of the team’s swimmers (including those no longer in the race) crosses the finish line.

 

 

6.  Transitioning Swimmers for Intervals:  When the boat stops, following the Lifeguard’s whistle, a new swimmer must enter water and touch hands with the exiting swimmer within view of the event volunteer on the boat before the exiting swimmer boards. 

 

The boat stops when the exiting swimmer is stopped.  The boat begins forward progress once the exiting swimmer is aboard, and the entering swimmer is in motion swimming in the “safe” position beside the boat.   

 

Transition Penalty:  Teams will be penalized 5 minutes any time transitioning swimmers do not touch hands. 

 

 

7.  Swim Interval Time & Recording Distance:  Team members are scheduled to swim 30-minute intervals before transitioning to another swimmer (double-intervals not permitted).  During scheduled transitions, the clock stops for an interval and begins for a new interval simultaneously with the Lifeguard’s whistle, which stops the boat.  Transition time between swimmers is included in the new interval. 

 

NOTE:  Swimmers are credited with the Point-to-point distance between GPS coordinates for their swim interval.   

 

Each team member must complete their 30-minute interval unless needing to get on boat early.  If a swimmer exits the water early in an unscheduled stop, their interval ends at the time the exiting swimmer boards the boat and a new 30-minute interval starts at the time the replacement swimmer and boat begin forward progress.  If the exiting swimmer is no longer in the water to touch hands, the replacement swimmer may be taken to the point the previous swimmer left the water. 

 

Penalty for Not Finishing Interval:  Teams will be penalized the lesser of 10 minutes or the time remaining in the interval when swimmer left the water.

 

NOTE:  If the boat crew orders a swimmer on the boat for medical or safety reasons, no penalties are issued. “Safety reasons” may include clearing swimmers out of a shipping lane for an approaching commercial vessel.  If the swim resumes, the swimmer ordered aboard re-enters the water at the point they left off and finishes the time left in their interval.   

 

 

8.  Swimming Rotation / Missing Turns & Disqualification:  Team members must swim in a set order to avoid penalties.  Team Captains may choose the order of their rotation but may not change it after the swim begins.

 

If a team member must sit out an interval when it is their turn to swim, the swimming rotation will continue with the next able swimmer in the rotation.  A swimmer who skips their turn may return to the rotation, but only when their regular turn in the order comes up. 

 

Penalty for Swimming Out of Rotation:  If swimmers are skipped and team members swim out of order, teams will be penalized 10 minutes for EACH swimmer who missed their turn in the rotation.  For example, if a team member were to illegally swim a double interval, the team would be penalized 10 minutes for each of the 3 swimmers who missed their turn. 

 

Swimmers are permitted to sit out 2 intervals with penalties and remain in the race.  A swimmer will receive a penalty and be disqualified on their 3rd missed interval. 

 

NOTE:  If a team starts the race with less than 4 swimmers, the team will be penalized 30 minutes for each missing team member.

 

 

9.  Feeding Strategy:  Swimmers should take their nutrition on the boat between intervals.  This is technically not a rule, but a strategy.  Avoid using valuable time feeding in the water with the boat stationary and no forward progress being made.   

 

 

10.  Required & Permitted Attire:  Swimmers will be provided numbered, color-coded swim caps which must be worn over the top of any other cap.  All male and female swimsuits, tech suits, and latex/silicone swim caps are allowed.  Neoprene attire, such as wetsuits and thermal swim caps, are optional.  There are no separate divisions for wetsuits.

 

Strategy:  Even if you plan not to wear a wetsuit, it is a good idea to pack one.  Water temperatures in the Great Lakes can change quickly and dramatically.  Between intervals, you may choose to peel the wetsuit down to your waist or completely change out of it and hang it up.

 

 

11.  Swim Aids Not Permitted:  Propulsion devices (i.e. fins, paddles, webbed gloves, etc.) and breathing devices (i.e. snorkels) are not permitted.   Flotation devices which keep swimmers afloat while in motion are not permitted (i.e. inflatables wrapped on body, kick boards, pull buoys, swim noodles etc.). 

 

Flotation Device Exception:  Swim buoys may be towed (not keeping swimmer afloat while in motion) for enhanced visibility and to hold on to in emergencies.   

 

NOTE:  Team Support Boat Lifeguards and event volunteers will visually inspect each swimmer before starting an interval and will not permit swimmers to enter the water with illegal swim aids.   

 
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1.  Age Requirement:  Team members must be at least 18 years of age on the date they REGISTER to enter the swim. 

 

 

2.  Cut-Off Time & Minimum Swimming Pace Required:  The cut-off time for this 22-mile swim is 15 hours.  Teams who have not finished the swim in 15 hours (by sunset) will have their swimmers pulled from the water.  Swimmers will be returned to the marina at the port of embarkation.

 

To meet the 15-hour cut-off time, a team’s slowest swimmers for each of the swim intervals must collectively average no less than 1.466 miles per hour (covering .7333 mile in a 30-minute interval), and average no more than 40.909 minutes per mile.  The 15 hours allotted for swimmers to finish includes feeding time in the water (if applicable). 

 

 

Strategy: 

 

 One to four team members may be in the water for any number of consecutive or non-consecutive 30-minute swim intervals, according to their individual distance goals and need for rest.

 

Keep in mind that your Team Support Boat will progress only as fast as your slowest swimmer in the water in any given swim interval.  Therefore, when forming teams for the Distance Competition division, it is important to recruit team members with compatible distance goals and swimming speeds compatible with those goals.  For example, if you are a team member attempting to swim the entire 22-mile distance and you have teammates with shorter distance goals, it is important that they are supportive of your goal as well as their own, and that their pace will be compatible with yours (by choice or ability). 

 

If the team is falling behind the pace to meet the cut-off time, a “catch up interval” strategy could be employed, where slower teammates agree to sit out an interval while a faster team member picks up the pace for 30 minutes for the common good of the team. 

 

Lake conditions on game day will play a prominent role in your team’s performance.  Train in the open water as much as possible to gauge how your pool times translate to the open water in various conditions.  Practice swimming against the current, as the direction and intensity of surface currents may change throughout the course of this lengthy swim.  

 

Reach the Beach - Chicago NOTE:  Historically, prevailing westerly winds produce some level of a surface current blowing out to sea (to the east as you get out of the near-shore currents curling into the beach).  This means odds are that you will have some level of favorable surface current on the outbound and some level of adverse current on the return. While early July conditions are often relatively benign, one should be prepared to swim against the current when you may be tiring.  Training!  Training!  Training! 

 

*  Boarding:  If you do not plan to swim the entire 22-mile distance, practice repeatedly hoisting yourself out of the water on to a pool deck or dock when tired.  On game day you will need to climb a swim ladder or pull yourself into a dinghy in tow to board your Team Support Boat.  While this generally should be no problem for well-conditioned swimmers (and you will have assistance), please keep in mind that boarding can be more difficult in rough seas.  If it is calm, using the swim ladder is probably your best bet.  If it is rough, hoisting yourself onto the soft-shell dinghy is a much better choice, as swim ladders often become quite unstable; plus, your Captain will not allow you to use a ladder if positioned on the down-current side of the hard-hulled boat in bad conditions.  If possible, practicing boarding a boat in rough seas is a good exercise for your team. 

 

 

3.  Qualification for Awards:

 

A.  To Qualify for the Course 22 Completion Award:  Swimmers wishing to be recognized for completing the 22-mile course as a marathon swim, must swim the entire course continuously (with nutrition breaks).  This means marathon swimmers may not exit the water (by boarding a craft) or hold on to anything for support in the water, including the boat, dinghy, or any object other than a feeding apparatus.  A feeding apparatus may only be held when taking nutrition.

 

B.  Award Qualifications if Not Completing 22-Mile Marathon Swim:  Swimmers who choose to board a craft and/or hold on to an object for support other than when feeding with a feeding apparatus, will not qualify for a Course 22 Completion Award.  If the swimmer’s accumulated mileage ranks in the overall top 3, they will qualify for a Distance Champion Award.  The swimmer’s Certificate of Achievement will record the actual distance they accumulated in their swim intervals.  If swimming the entire course, but with “boarding and/or “holding,” the swimmer’s Certificate of Achievement will recognize “Completion of the course in a non-continuous swim.”   

 

 

4.  Whistle Always Means STOP (Red Flag Also Used for Scheduled Stops):  The team’s Lifeguard will blow their whistle to stop swimmers anytime the team’s dedicated support boat is stopping.  The Team Support Boat is scheduled to stop every 30 minutes to check on the swimmer’s well-being and to give them the opportunity to feed and to get on or off the boat.  The Lifeguard will wave a red flag in addition to sounding their whistle for all scheduled stops.  The Lifeguard will stop the boat anytime swimmers make a prolonged stop (defined as allowing the swimmer to fall out of position beside the moving boat – see #5 below).  The Lifeguard will stop the boat immediately if a swimmer is observed holding on to an object for support.  

 

Swimmers are asked to get the attention of their Lifeguard with hand signals anytime they make a “prolonged stop” before the next scheduled stop.  Please yell out also if you can.  The Lifeguard will respond to the swimmer’s signal by blowing their whistle, relaying the signal to the Captain to stop the boat. 

 

Hand Signals:  Swimmers stopping but not intending to board and not in need of assistance should raise a fist in the air.  Swimmers needing to board the boat before their 30- minute interval time is up and able to get to the boat without assistance in the water, should raise a fist in the air, then point at the boat.  Swimmers needing the Lifeguard to enter the water to assist them should extend an arm above their head and wave their hand, if able. 

 

 

5.  Must Swim Beside Team Support Boat:  Swimmers must swim beside the boat, always remaining between the bow and the dinghy in tow (trailing 20 feet behind the vessel).  Swimming behind the boat is not permitted.  Swimmers may individually choose whether they wish to swim on the port or starboard side and should try to swim approximately 20 feet from the side of the vessel, referred to as the “safe” position.  Team members may swim on each side of the boat simultaneously. 

 

The Boat will make no forward progress unless swimmers are in the water and in motion, swimming in the “safe” position beside the boat.  The Captain will match the swimming speed of the slowest swimmer in the water and steer the group in the right direction. 

 

Penalty for Swimming Rogue:  If a Team Support Boat should ever have to pull other swimmers from the water and leave their position to retrieve a rogue swimmer, that swimmer will be disqualified, not permitted to re-enter the water, and will not receive an award, medal, or certificate of achievement.  THIS IS THE MOST SERIOUS RULE INFRACTION!   

 

NOTE:  Swimmers should remain visually aware of their position relative to the boat so they can SEE if the boat has stopped in case they do not HEAR the Lifeguard’s whistle. We hope not to be forced into prohibiting audio devices with ear buds.

 

Strategy:  If you do not breathe bi-laterally, choose the proper side of the boat to swim on so the boat is easier to keep within your field of vision.  One side of the boat may also be more favorable to shield you from waves.   

 

 

6.  One to Four Swimmers May Be in the Water at Any Given Time.

 

 

7.  Swim Intervals, Feedings, Entering or Exiting Water / Recording Distance:  The Team Support Boat is scheduled to stop every 30 minutes to check on the swimmer’s well-being and to give them the opportunity to feed and to get on or off the boat at their option.  Unlike the relay race, the 30-minute clock will stop with the Lifeguard’s whistle and will not continue to run during feedings and transitions.  A new 30-minute clock starts with the Lifeguard’s whistle when swimmers are again in motion and the boat is underway.

 

Swimmers are credited with the point-to-point distance between GPS coordinates for each interval they complete.  In the Distance Competition, a swimmer WILL NOT be credited for any distance they swim in an interval they do not complete.  

 

Swimmers may ONLY enter the water to start an interval during scheduled stops or during unscheduled stops as stipulated below.  The boat will not make unscheduled stops for the express purpose of new swimmers entering the water. 

 

If swimmers exit the water before the end of the 30-minute interval in an unscheduled stop, and IF THERE ARE OTHER SWIMMERS REMAINING IN THE WATER, the Lifeguard will resume the current interval once the exiting swimmers are aboard and stop the boat again at the end of the originally scheduled 30 minutes.  New swimmers may not enter the water during unscheduled stops when other swimmers remain in the water and are on a 30-minute feeding schedule. 

 

IF THERE ARE NOT OTHER SWIMMERS REMAINING IN THE WATER when swimmers exit in an unscheduled stop, new swimmers will enter the water at this time.  The previous interval ends at the time the last exiting swimmer boards the boat and a new 30-minute interval begins at the time the incoming swimmers and boat resume forward progress.  Incoming swimmers may be taken to the point the last exiting swimmer left the water. 

 

The boat stops when all swimmers have been stopped.  The boat resumes forward progress once exiting swimmers are aboard, entering swimmers are in the water, and all swimmers are once again in motion swimming in the “safe” position beside the boat.  

 

 

Strategy for Feeding: 

 

Swimmers not planning to swim the entire distance may opt for the ease of feeding on the boat between swim intervals. 

 

Teams may strategize with a rotation so a team member not swimming the entire distance is on the boat or in the dinghy in tow to feed team members in the water.  If feeding teammates in the water from the boat, please make sure feeding containers are on a throw rope so the swimmer remains a safe distance from the side of the boat.  It is a good idea to mark containers with the appropriate swim cap numbers. 

 

If swimmers in the water do not have a someone to feed them, they must feed self-sufficiently and may tow a flotation device to carry their nutrition (i.e. swim buoy/dry bag). 

 

NOTE:  The event volunteer on the boat will assist your team in feeding when they can, and may prevent the need for self-sufficient feeding in the water.  However, applicable team members should prepare to feed self-sufficiently, as the event volunteer could be occupied with other responsibilities.  Feedings are ultimately the responsibility of swimmers.

 

Interval Strategy:  If your plan is to see how far you can swim non-continuously in intervals, having to answer the bell repeatedly over the length of this swim can take its’ toll and you will need to stay loose.  Train to build your strength accordingly.  Two-a-day swims, or even occasional multiple daily swims, with short rest periods and stretching is a good exercise. 

 

 

8.  Required & Permitted Attire:  Swimmers will be provided numbered, color-coded swim caps which must be worn over the top of any other cap.  All male and female swimsuits, tech suits, and latex/silicone swim caps are allowed.  Neoprene attire, such as wetsuits and thermal swim caps, are optional.  “Wetsuit” or “No Wetsuit” will be noted on Certificate of Achievement. 

 

Strategy:  Water temperatures in the Great Lakes can change quickly and dramatically.   Even if you plan not to wear a wetsuit, it is a good idea to pack one.  Swimmers who initially choose not to wear a wetsuit who get on the boat, whether planned or unplanned, may choose to re-enter the water in a wetsuit.  Between swimming intervals, you may choose to peel the wetsuit down to your waist or completely change out of it and hang it up.

 

 

9.  Swim Aids Not Permitted:  Propulsion devices (i.e. fins, paddles, webbed gloves, etc.) and breathing devices (i.e. snorkels) are not permitted.   Flotation devices which keep swimmers afloat at any time other than feeding are not permitted (i.e. inflatables wrapped on body, kick boards, pull buoys, swim noodles etc.). 

 

Flotation Device Exception:  For self-sufficient feeding, a flotation device (not keeping swimmer afloat while in motion) may be towed to carry nutrition (i.e. swim buoy/dry bag). Swim buoy/dry bags also enhance visibility and may be held on to in an emergency. 

 

NOTE:  Team Support Boat Lifeguards and event volunteers will visually inspect each swimmer before starting an interval and will not permit swimmers to enter the water with illegal swim aids.   

Distance Competition
Swim Procedures - Rules - Strategy