I. Swim Categories
A. Marathon swim
A swim that follows the traditional rules of marathon swimming, which have remained in large part unchanged since 1875, when Capt. Matthew Webb first swam across the English Channel. Swimmers are permitted to wear a standard textile swimsuit, one standard cap, goggles, ear plugs, a nose clip, and grease. Artificial aids – which are considered to be anything that improves speed, buoyancy, or heat retention – are prohibited.
B. Assisted swim
Any swim in which the swimmer wears or uses artificial aids of any kind, including non-standard swim caps (e.g., bubble caps or neoprene caps) and standard non textile swimsuit (e.g., wetsuit or stinger suits). Assisted swims are not eligible for course records or “firsts.”
II. Swim Rules
These rules will be read aloud by the observer before every swim attempt.
A. General Rules
- The boat captain has the ultimate authority on the boat. (S)he may call off a swim at any time because (s)he perceives that anyone’s safety may be in jeopardy.
- The observer is in sole charge of interpreting the rules during a swim. (S)he may call off a swim at any time because of failure to comply with the rules or danger to the swimmer. Failure to follow the observer’s instructions by the swimmer or any support person will result in disqualification.
- If the swim is called off by the captain or observer, the swimmer must immediately exit the water.
- The swimmer is permitted to use only standard marathon swim equipment. This includes one standard porous swimsuit that does not cover the shoulders or extend below the knees, one standard latex or silicone cap, goggles, ear plugs, a nose clip, and may grease their body. Examples of non-standard equipment include neoprene caps, multiple caps, caps with chin straps, etc. Any device or apparel that improves speed, buoyancy, or heat retention other than the standard items listed here, is considered to be an artificial aid and is prohibited.
- If you have any question as to what is standard or non-standard equipment in marathon swimming, as your observer.
- During the swim, the swimmer may not make supporting contact with any person or object.
- Paddlers are allowed. Support swimmers are allowed as long as they are not in the water for the entire duration of the swim.
- The swimmer may not intentionally draft off either the escort boat, paddler, or the support swimmer.
- The swimmer must start from one natural connecting shore, standing above the water line, and finish on the opposite natural connecting shore, above the water line.
- The timing of the swim starts when the swimmer enters the water and ends when the swimmer clears the water. The observer is the single official timer of the swim and will record the official time in the observer notes.
- The swimmer or crew may not intentionally pollute the ocean with trash or debris (including but not limited to feed cups and gel packs) at any point before, during, or after the swim, from dock to dock.
- The swimmer or crew may not intentionally harm any wildlife at any point before, during, or after the swim, from dock to dock.
B. Double/Multiple Crossings (click to expand)
- Each single crossing (called a “leg”) must conform to each of the General Rules above.
- After completing one leg of a multiple-crossing by clearing the water, the swimmer must re-enter the water to begin the subsequent leg (if applicable) no more than ten minutes later.
- During this time between legs (the “interlude”), the swimmer may be handed food, medicines, swimming apparel, and grease, but (s)he cannot be touched by anyone.
- The elapsed time of the swim continues running during the interlude.
C. Relays (click to expand)
- A relay team may be comprised of two or more swimmers.
- The relay must designate a crew leader. The crew leader is not allowed to swim.
- Each relay member shall swim for a set time period – called a “leg” – each time he or she enters the water. The team shall choose its own leg duration, but it must be the same for each swimmer, and must remain constant throughout the duration of the relay.
- The order of rotation must remain the same throughout the duration of the relay.
- Swimmer exchange: The new swimmer must approach the preceding swimmer from behind, pass him or her, and touch hands above the water. The exchange must not exceed five minutes.
- A relay team may substitute an “alternate” in place of a core team member, provided: (a) the alternate was listed in the original application, and (b) the core member has not yet entered the water to begin a leg. No more than two alternate substitutions are allowed. (This circumstance may arise if, for example, a team member fails to show up at the dock, or a team member becomes sick or otherwise disabled on the ride to the starting point.)
- Any relay member who has swum any part of any leg is not eligible to be replaced with an alternate.
- If any swimmer exits the water before his or her leg is completed, or does not enter the water when his or her leg is scheduled to begin, the relay is disqualified.