How is an open water test conducted?

How is an open water test conducted? post thumbnail image

Perhaps you are wondering how an open water event is conducted.

First of all, we can group the open water events into two categories: those open to all, and those reserved for swimmers with a federal license. In France, the overwhelming majority of open water races are unfortunately reserved for swimmers registered in a swimming club.

For the other races, which we can call “open”, everyone can swim, by providing a recent medical certificate of no contraindication to swimming in competition in a natural environment over a long distance. Holders of an FFN card usually only have their card to present (issuing it at the start of the season requires a similar certificate).

Registrations for “open” races are generally done on the internet because many candidates rush to participate, and registrations leave very quickly. In addition, these are often races with several hundred participants at the same time.

On D-day, the numbered caps are generally withdrawn, and possibly the presentation of the missing elements in the registration file (medical certificate for example). The same number, inscribed in the marker on the cap, is also inscribed on the swimmer’s two shoulders, both hands, and on the shoulder blades. Be careful, the marker does not dry immediately, and especially do not put your clothes back on because they risk being stained with indelible ink.

You can put on racing clothes before or after the marking, however, do not put any cream or grease before the marking, otherwise, the marking cannot be done (and without marking, no race for you!).

Once the marking is done, you can grease yourself as much as you want. I will write an article to specify where this is useful and where it is important not to grease yourself.

Once everyone is ready, a safety briefing takes place. This involves explaining to the participants the route, the weather and safety conditions, the places of departure and arrival, etc. This is the last time to ask your questions if you still have some. On most courses there are positioned buoys, these must be passed “right shoulder” or “left shoulder”, indeed passing one buoy by left shoulder means going around it on the right. Don’t worry, the organizers also get confused sometimes!

Once the briefing is over, the swimmers take the roll call one by one and are tagged. It is a safety procedure to verify that all the swimmers on the start are also on the finish.

Once everyone has passed into the call room, the start of the race can be done either from the edge or more often directly in the water.

Imagine several hundred swimmers, in one place, at the same time. Yes the stars are always very delicate moments, between the good swimmers who try to clear their way, those who panic, the breaststroke swimmers who kick hard because the water is cold … in short, it is very important to position yourself well at the start, according to your level and especially compared to that of the competitors.

Very quickly, however, you will find some space, and you can concentrate on the race rather than avoiding contact with the competitors.

Some people talk about combat sport, it’s a bit the effect it can have at the beginning, but it is more of a contact sport.

Do not kick otherwise you will also receive some 

The finish is usually in the form of a large funnel, with a huge buoy on each side, and a water line on each side that converge towards a finish line. It is imperative to pass between the two buoys and forbidden to pass under the waterline. Finally, the finish line is generally a plate suspended at the height of the outstretched arm that must be struck on the arm. When your arm hits the plate, your participant number is recorded, along with your time. It is therefore imperative to hit the plate to be classified.

Each race has a time limit, though kayaks are deployed throughout the course and can provide guidance to swimmers if needed, a broom boat is tasked with picking up too slow swimmers who are taken straight to the locker room and disqualified.

The precise course of each race is indicated in the program, it must be read because it is sometimes necessary to arrive on-site several hours before the start of the event.

So, are you ready? visit the American lifeguard for the further instructions 

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