"Escort" by Beth Barnes

I just finished reading Beth Barnes' book "Escort" on my new Kindle Fire last night.  It was not only packed with useful information on how to paddle for an open water swimmer, but has also inspired me to think about swimming the Catalina Channel.

The book is based on Beth's experience guiding 20+ open water swimmers across the Catalina Channel as well as on training swims, marathons swims and open water races.  She is clearly an expert on the subject and this book is a much needed guide for paddlers who are supporting open water swimmers.

Most of the book focuses on the Catalina Channel, but much of the information is general enough to carry over into paddling in other bodies of water.

Not only did I learn about what a professional paddler goes through while supporting a swim, I also learned some tips that will help me to be a better support paddler in the future.  I would even suggest that support paddlers for the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim and the Deer Creek Open Water Swim download and read the book before the events.

The book also did a good job of inspiring me think about a possible swim across the Catalina Channel.  Depending on how my Bear Lake swim goes, I might make it a goal in the coming years.  If nothing else I would really like to do a relay with my swimming friends.

I recommend "Escort" for both paddlers and swimmers.  Right now it is only available as a Kindle download (you don't have to have a Kindle to read it though) and you can get a copy for only $3.99.


Tracey Rumsey said...

Beth-Thanks for post. Just curious, I'm a triathlete (www.doyourtime.com) here in Utah and while I've volunteered at some races I hadn't thought much about what it takes to be a support paddler in a swim race or a triathlon. Could you do a post about the qualifications needed to volunteer for something like that?


Josh said...


Sorry for the confusion, that post was by me (Josh). It was a review of Beth Barnes' book "Escort".

I was a support paddler for IMSG this year and have given instructions to support paddlers in our race at the Great Salt Lake. I can put something together about volunteering as a paddler.


Tracey Rumsey said...

Sorry Josh. Confusion was all me... Am just curious if open water paddlers used for safety in races are just certified life guards (like at a pool) or if they've had special "open water" rescue training. Obviously I'm clueless but thinking about getting more safety training next year.

Josh said...

Tracey, no worries. I am not a trained lifeguard and was a support paddler at IMSG and have paddled for friends on long solo swims.

I don't think it is necessary to be a trained lifeguard to paddle for someone, however you should at least be familiar with the signs of hypothermia and have a plan in place for what you will do if there is an emergency. If you are volunteering for an organized event, they should have lifeguards ready in case there are problems. In that case, you are there mostly to alert them to any trouble and offer the swimmers your kayak to rest on if needed.

Maybe in addition to our open water swimming clinics next year we should also have a paddler clinic.