New Guidelines for USMS Sanctioned Open Water Events

If you have been trying to register for a USMS sanctioned open water event recently, you may have noticed that registration for many events has been on hold.  The reason for this is new sanctioning guidelines for open water events.

Insurance premiums increased dramatically for open water events this year after some unfortunate accidents in 2012.  A task force was put together to determine how to move forward with open water sanctioning and new guidelines and requirements were recently published.  The long and short of the matter is that it is going to cost event directors significantly more ($1,800 per event - $800 paid by USMS = $1,000 per event) to have their events sanctioned through USMS.  In addition, safety plans must be reviewed by a third party and there are new rules in place regarding motorized support boats.

A really good summary of what has been happening as well as answers to common questions was posted today on the USMS website.

So what does this mean for our local open water events?

  • Utah Masters has been very supportive of our growing open water scene and wants to see these events continue under USMS.  They have graciously offered to cover a portion of the sanctioning fee.  The remainder of the increased sanctioning cost will have to be paid by the event director.  As it is, our three local events (Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim, Deer Creek Open Water Marathon Swim, and Bear Lake Monster Swim) are lucky to break even financially at the end of the event.  Unless there are more sponsors who step forward to help these events, part of the increased cost will likely be passed on to the participants in the form of increased registration fees.

  • Race directors have been waiting for the new guidelines to be published.  Now that they are out, events can begin applying for sanctioning.  Registration for many events will likely open later than in years past.

  • On the plus side, the new rules and safety plan review were put in place to make events safer for swimmers.

This is going to be a challenging year for USMS sanctioned open water events.  Race directors have been put in a tough spot and are scrambling to figure out how to keep their events going under an increased financial burden and stricter safety rules.  Race directors will appreciate your patience and understanding as they work these things out.

If you have any questions about the new guidelines, read this article.  If you still have questions, you can contact owsupport@usms.org.

Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) Club Suits - Pre-Order Deadline

We are excited to be putting in an order for Salt Lake Open Water (SLOW) club suits.  We will be placing the bulk order at the end of this week (February 23), so please pre-order online to be guaranteed the style and size that you want.

Pre-order online at the Salt Lake Open Water club store.

Thanks to Dennis and HARDCORE SWIM for coming up with the cool designs.  All suits are made of PBT material, which holds up really well (even in chlorine).

If you are ordering locally, choose the "local pick-up" option at check out (no shipping charge) and we will make sure you get your order.  If you are ordering out of state, you will have to pay shipping.

See some examples of the suits below:


2013 QUAC Ski-n-Swim Meet

Go SLOW!  (Photo by Todd Frehse)

Yesterday was the QUAC Ski-n-Swim meet.  I was far from my best times, but had a whole lot of fun with my teammates.

We had eight SLOW swimmers there: Gordon, Goody, Sue, Anne, Rachel, James, Stacey and myself.  It was the first time I had met James and Stacey and I am excited to have them both on our team.

We entered two SLOW relays for the 200 IM relay.  Team A was Gordon, James, Sue and Anne and Team B was Goody, Rachel, Stacey and myself.  I was nominated to lead the relay and swim backstroke.  I hadn't done a backstroke start since last year's meet.  There was some confusion as we never heard the starter say "take your mark".  Needless to say, I had a pretty bad start.  I tired to make up for it by swimming as fast as I could.  I had a pretty good turn and got in several dolphin kicks off the wall.  I like backstroke but never enter backstroke events.  Maybe for the next meet I will practice my started and enter the 50 or 100 back.  Goody was next with breaststroke and was followed by Stacey (fly) and Rachel (free).  We came in dead last, but had a blast!  The A team did much better and came in 5th overall.

Next up for me was the 100 IM.  I have never swam this event and entered it just to try something new.  The turns have been causing me problems all week and all I could think about on the starting block was making the right turns at each 25.  I felt pretty good and ended up with a time of 1:08.26, which I was happy with.

I sat out the 200 Free relay, but we had two SLOW teams entered.  The A team kicked butt at 1:55.43 and got third place.

My next event was the 500 free.  I entered with a seed time of 6:30.  I haven't been training as hard as I was last year when I did 6:01.  My only goal was to not get lapped by Gordon who had set an aggressive goal of 5:45 (which he beat!).  My arms felt like lead from the first stroke to the last.  I just couldn't get into a good rhythm and felt out of breath the whole time.  Gordon was in the lane next to me and I watched him get further and further ahead of me each lap.  He finished his 500 just seconds after I touched the wall at 450 yards.  I ended up with a 6:21.22.

I was really tired after the 500, but still had the 100 free.  I entered with a seed time of 59 seconds and ended up at 59.89.  The guy next to me was ahead at 50 yards but I cranked it up and out-touched him.

The best part of the meet was cheering on my teammates.  We came up with a team cheer and Gordon made some posters that he used at the end of the lanes to encourage us.  Everyone did really well and I think we are all motivated to swim faster at the next meet.  It was especially exciting to watch Goody swim his events.  He was far from his best times due to his recent cancer treatments, but he was having a great time.  We finished up the meet with a final team cheer before going down the slide :)

I was lucky to have Sabrina and my boys there to cheer me on.  My parents, grandma, sister and her family also came to watch.  I am really lucky to have such great supporters!


Open Water Drills for the Pool

This morning was "fun Friday" with the Masters group I have started swimming with and coach Max had a fun open water workout for us.  These drills are a good way to prepare for the upcoming open water and triathlon season and are also a good way to add variety to your swim workouts.

Head's Up Free
Swimming with your head up is not generally recommended (unless you are playing water polo).  However, in open water you have to lift your head to sight.  Doing sets of "head's up" free will help to build your neck and lower back muscles.  This is a tough workout and will teach you really quickly how important horizontal body positioning is.  A good place to start out would be doing sets of 25 or 50.  If you want a real challenge, try swimming a longer distance (200 to 300 yards).

Hypoxic Breathing
Open water can be rough.  You never know when you might get hit with a wave, boat wake, or another swimmer when you try to take a breath.  Doing hypoxic breathing sets can help you feel comfortable holding your breath.  My favorite is doing sets of 100's and limiting my breaths to 3, 5, 7 and 9 on each 25.  Underwater 25's are also fun and challenging.

No Walls

In open water, there is no streamline or resting on the wall.  Try doing sets of 100 or 200 yards without pushing off the walls.  It's exhausting to try to get back up to speed without the wall, this drill will teach you to keep moving!

Eyes Closed
Swimming straight is an important aspect of open water.  The straighter you swim, the faster you will finish.  Try doing some 25's with your eyes closed for the first 10 strokes.  When you open your eyes, pay attention to where you are in the lane.  If you consistently drift to one side or the other, there is likely some imbalance or cross-over in your stroke.  Learning to bilateral breathe (breathe on both sides) will help to balance your stroke.

Three Wide
The starts of open water swims and triathlons are notorious for being crowded (and sometimes rough).  Learn to deal with swimming in close proximity to others by sharing your lane with two other swimmers.  Swim 25's or 50's side-by-side and take turns in each position (right, left, middle).

Drafting is a good way to save energy and swim faster.  Do sets of 200 to 400 yards and start each swimmer one second apart.  Try to stay on the toes of the swimmer ahead of you.  Make sure that each person gets a chance to take a turn swimming in the front.

No Lane Lines
If your pool will let you, take the lane lines out.  This will simulate open water by making the water much less flat.  It you want to try something really fun, swim around the perimeter of the pool instead of laps, practicing your buoy turns at each corner.

Put a cone, or other object, on one (or both) sides of the pool.  Practice sighting the object 2 or 3 times each lap.  If you want to make it more challenging, have someone move the object each lap.  Try not to lift your head higher than you need to and pick up your kick each time you sight.