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Old 24-09-2009, 15:04   #1
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Swimming

I was just out for a late summer/early fall swim on a visit to New England. I decided to go out and inspect this mooring ball that is about 25 yards off of the beach and realized I was being carried along at about a knot parallel to the beach and out past the point. Yikes! I did what everyone says not to do and what everyone does do when they realize something like this is happening: momentarily choke!

Of course I got my act together in a few moments and swam perpendicular to the current and got in fine. But it was a healthy reminder that when you deal with the ocean you are always running a risk, and are always one mistake away from danger.

After floundering my way in with a combination of breast stroke/side stroke/doggy paddle, my question is this: if you have no real formal swim training what is the proper way to swim out of an emergency? Is there a suggested lamens stroke that will get you where you need to go with as little an expenditure of energy as is possible? I know they tell you to float or tread water when you are feeling pooped but this isn't really possible when you are being carried away from land by a current.

PS please no judging or I told you so's, that is not why I come to CF.
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Old 24-09-2009, 15:27   #2
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Side stroke. On your side do a scissor kick and pull down with your arms. You can swim all day with that stroke. They don't teach it much anymore but it is a good way to conserve energy. How's the water? I am headed for SD on Sunday.
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Old 24-09-2009, 15:28   #3
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Isn't that the Australian Crawl? Very easy stroke, and effecient too.....i2f
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Old 24-09-2009, 15:30   #4
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Having swam competitively in high school and college and having been a Red Cross certified life guard for many years ago, I can tell you that a good freestyle (Australian Crawl) with proper breathing is the most efficient stroke. Unfortunately most people who I have seen do the freestyle, who obviously have had no formal training, are very inefficient at the stroke. Most of it has to do with improper breathing of not turning their head to the side and kicking too much. For the amount of energy exerted, kicking is very inefficient at propelling oneself. With competitive swimming, except for sprints which go aerobic, kicking is used more for balance. To answer your question, there really is no efficient layman's stroke. A proper freestyle will get you there the quickest with the least amount of energy exerted. Do we ever see marathon swimmers using any other stroke?

Charlie is right about the side stroke being efficient, unfortunately it is very slow and in a situation where you are being swept away by current, it may not be the best stroke to use.
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Old 24-09-2009, 15:32   #5
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Like to know to

Yes. Interesting to hear what is the fastest but energy conserving swim.
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Old 24-09-2009, 15:35   #6
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In the surf...

I was once surfing at a Sydney beach and the swimmer next to me asked what do you do if you are in trouble. I said to raise your hand and call "help".
He did and the lifesavers came and got him. No worries.

So I think the best is to concentrate on staying afloat. On Sydney beaches the code is a raised arm means "I need assistance", and a waving arm means "I need immediate help".

A cry of "Help" is distinctive and can be heard over a fair distance. A waving arm is quite noticeable.

If there is no one to hear/see then other strategies would need to be considered.
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Old 24-09-2009, 15:38   #7
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Hey Unbusted:

Glad you made it. Back in the day I was a swimming instructor. Actually, I taught the instructors so I have some knowledge here. My first suggestion would be to sign up for either adult or private lessons and learn the front crawl really well. This is the stroke you really want to have when you need to move. Once you learn front crawl, spend the winter mastering it by going to the pool and doing laps. Two benefits here, it'll became 2nd nature and you'll get ingreat shape. Second, the best direction to swim a strong current is with the current but at 45 degrees towards safety, ifthat is possible. This is much easier than going perpendicular. You might have a longer walk back but a long walk beats floating face down.
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Old 24-09-2009, 15:46   #8
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I always strogle to understand swimming in the ocean or going out in a boat ...

without formal swimming training. All of this safety talk. There is no substitute, never will be, for being completely comfortable in the water, both flat and in big waves. My parents were very hard-nosed about this when it came to swimming in the ocean. I was not allowed to swim alone until I could easily swim a mile. No other way to understand what we are facing or to deal simply with minor emergencies.

I used to teach rock climbing classes. I was always amazed at the number that thought a helmet would help them more than a solid understanding of how to move over rock.

One of my first questions for guests is "how do you swim?" Not just "can you swim", but I want to know how well. If the answer is "a little" they are not leaving the cockpit, no matter complaining or wearing a life jacket.

The other key to efficient swimming is not swimming faster than you need to. Once you find an efficient pace, don't push the pace. Rather like the advise regarding not over kicking. It should feel easy; if not, there is a fault in the stroke.

Swimming is part of sailing, IMHO.
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Old 24-09-2009, 16:34   #9
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Dont fight the current, swim with it angling to shore....
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Old 24-09-2009, 17:48   #10
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I think one can beat some current for a short time - how short depends on your swimming skills.

Iif this is a standard under/back current then just let it carry you and swim across it (along the coast) soon you will be in a place where the water is driven on the shore - and you will be virtually carried home.

It does not apply as a general rule, but those to and fro beach currents are common issue with inexperienced swimmers.

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Old 24-09-2009, 18:01   #11
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Swimming is a high endurance activity in a pool, even more so in the ocean. Being caught in currents, rip tides etc. you need to remember, that it is not a race to get back in. Slow, calm and steady wins the event.
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Old 24-09-2009, 18:43   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unbusted67 View Post
a combination of breast stroke/side stroke/doggy paddle, .
Thats the perfect style imho
Even reasonable swimmers should keep their head out of water in an emergency sitaution. Its better to see where you are going and keep the angle of attack to the current correct.

I used to surf Bondi Beach and sometimes (ok: Often ) I would lose the bloody surfboard way out the back and the board would happily surf into the beach. Sure I can swim freestyle (Aussie crawl) but for a long swim against current, watching the waves, keeping out of other surfers waves and keeping a reserve of energy i used exactly your combination of breast stroke and side stroke... and maybe a lil puppy paddle... and freestyle when trying to go faster for 5 or 6 strokes.



*********

While we are on the subject of 1 kt currents. Anyone reading here who hasn't jumped off the boat while at sea. Don't. You might think the boat is going slowly.... but once in the water you will notice your boat is performing like a racing sled.... even without sails!
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Old 24-09-2009, 21:34   #13
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Don't overlook the backstroke. Arch the back. Long slow kicks from the hips, combined with steady sweeps of the arms. Nice thing about the back stroke is that it rests the swimmer, and most of the energy goes into propulsion rather than staying afloat.
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Old 24-09-2009, 22:24   #14
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Use Swimfins!

As an old body surfer and belly boarder who's surfed the Wedge at up to 12 ft, I never swim in the ocean without swimfins. Period. They save your energy, greatly increase your power and speed, and in certain conditions can save your life.

They're very inexepensive for the safety they provide.

Norm
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Old 24-09-2009, 22:37   #15
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As an old body surfer and belly boarder who's surfed the Wedge at up to 12 ft, I never swim in the ocean without swimfins. Period. They save your energy, greatly increase your power and speed, and in certain conditions can save your life.

They're very inexepensive for the safety they provide.

Norm

Totally agree to this plus a mask and snorkle.
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