We live in one of the most beautiful cities in the United States with a gorgeous harbor, so why not bring marathon swimming to Charleston?
Paddlers: What do I do? I've never done this before!
Relax, paddling is fun and requires good observation skills and attention. You are your swimmer's eyes and ears. Without your guidance, swimmers have a hard time swimming straight and finding the best way to navigate the course.
The start is the craziest time for swimmers and paddlers. Swimmers begin the race and meet up with their paddlers within a couple of minutes. It can be a little nerve-wracking to track your swimmer but often paddlers have a brightly colored shirt, hat or some identifying item for swimmers to sight. In general, the paddler finds the swimmer.
The most important item is to stay with your swimmer and YOU call the shots! Swimmers cannot see well low in the water and rely on you to set the course and watch for them. Stay parallel to your swimmer or even slightly ahead of them. Do not follow them, they don't know what they are doing.
You will carry all of your swimmer's feeds and spare equipment for the day. Fortunately, this only means an extra swim cap and goggles as equipment. The swimmer will load all of the feeds for the day on the kayak before beginning the swim and you both will have worked out a timetable for feeding and a method. The string on a bottle works well since the paddler can cast it out to the swimmer and haul it back in. Decide with your swimmer in advance which side he or she prefers to swim on and try to stick to that side. It may change if the wind is bad so swimmers need to be flexible.
Paddlers- you are also responsible for checking in at checkpoints. It is essential that you get close enough to the check in boat to shout out your race number so that it is noted. Swimmers and paddlers who do not check in make race directors age quickly.
Feel free to ask a Committee boat or a spare paddler any questions that might come up during the event. The paddling itself is usually not exhausting but it can become more difficult in a headwind.
Enjoy the day and the safety of knowing that safety agencies won't allow any boaters not in the event to come close to you. It is a great opportunity to enjoy a nice trip upriver while cheering on your swimmer.
Boaters- We use boats to accompany relays, both two and four swimmer relays for the Swim Around Charleston.
All swimmers except the lead-off board the boat prior to the beginning of the swim. Boaters then head out away from the starting area to provide some distance between solo swimmers and paddlers. Once the solo swimmers have begun, the boaters may move a little closer to watch the relay swimmers begin.
As with paddlers, one very important element of escorting a relay is to stay with your swimmer and keep them in clear sight at all times. This is because boats have motors which have propellers. It is extremely dangerous for a swimmer to come anywhere close to the stern (back) of a boat with the propeller in gear and moving.
During relay exchanges, it is critical that the captain of the boat is certain and notifies a swimmer when it is safe to enter or exit the water. The engine must be in neutral with the propeller not spinning. Other relay swimmers can offer reminders but this cannot be overstated. Boaters should have a ladder that can be used by swimmers to climb aboard, the new swimmer for that shift typically jumps in, NOT diving in.
Relays in the Swim Around Charleston are considerable fun for both the boat owner and the swimmers. Stay safe and ask questions before or during the swim when needed.
Swim Around Charleston is a 12 mile open water swim race in Charleston, SC.