Great Channel Swim Update: In order to eliminate any actual or perceived advantage of one escort boat pilot over another, the 14 pilots for the world's best marathon swimmers in the Great Channel Swim will agree on a pre-determined course and communicate throughout the race.
This cooperation and coordination will eliminate differences in the pilots' skills and experiences and will make the swimmers' speed the ultimate deciding factor in the race. Given today's GPS and communications technology, this seems like a fair way to make the race entirely dependent on the swimmers' abilities.
Additionally, the pilots will be randomly drawn and assigned to the athletes prior to the race.
The race will follow the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation rules and all boats will have an official from the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation to officially record each swimmer's crossing.
The Great Channel Swim will start from the beach at Abbott's cliff with an estimated start times of 10:30 am for the six elite men, 11:15 am for the four relay teams and 11:30 am for the six elite women start. Besides these swimmers and 16 escort vessels, there will be three television crew boats and one media boat (only to the shipping lane). The pilots will be briefed in advance as to the preferred route, given the tides and weather, with a request to minimize variations in the route to promote equal opportunity for all swimmers.
The key Great Channel Swim rules include the following:
1. No person shall use or be assisted by an artificial aid of any kind, but is permitted to grease the body before a swim, use goggles, wear one cap and one costume. Costume and cap shall mean a garment, not made of neoprene or rubber or any other material considered by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation to give a similar type of advantage. The costume must be made of material that permits water to pass through it and not in any way designed to retain body heat, and/or aid buoyancy.
2. Nova International and the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation will approve the costume and cap before the swim starts. The swim will not be recognized if the costume is later found not to conform.
3. During a swim, no physical contact with the swimmer shall be made by any person other than to pass food and drink or secure such items as light sticks for safety reasons.
4. The race will consist of a beach start, the swimmer must enter into the sea from the shore of departure, swim across the English Channel (i) to finish on dry land, or (ii) to touch steep cliffs of the opposite coast with no sea-water beyond.
5. The completion of each swimmer's crossing shall be reported to the event control center by the official Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation observer. The official observer shall submit a written report and the required swim information sheets along with 30-minute position updates from the onboard GPS positioning system and/or the pilot's records. The pilot will record the position of the swimmer and pilot vessel every 30 minutes and make the information available to the organizers. The camera boat observers will be requested to provide proof of the swimmers landing if present.
6. The appointed Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation observer shall be in sole charge of the timing of the swim which shall be coordinated with world time readout from the GPS clock as well as any other means. They shall be responsible for observing compliance with the rules, ratification of the swim will be by the event committee. Where possible information updates and communication with Event Control room during the swim will be required for press and media updates.
7. The timing of a swim shall start from the time of the start signal and continue until the swimmer completes the swim as required by these rules.
8. The use of drugs by participants, other than for therapeutic reasons in accordance with medical advice, is regarded with complete disapproval and is considered contrary to the spirit of the sport. Any swimmer unable to participate without the administration of banned drugs must submit their application to the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation with ample time for consideration. The Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation and Nova International reserve the right to make random drug tests on the swimmers. The official Observer may require a sample of any medication given.
9. Swimmers are required to swim with the allocated pilot boat. The authorities require one swimmer only per pilot boat. No additional support swimmers are allowed. The pilots have the right to split up groups if safety and feeding is proving unacceptable. The pilots have ultimate control over the safety of the swim and swimmer. If the swimmer is in distress the swimmer will be accessed and possibly required to leave the water.
May the best man and woman win!
Photos above show Yuri Kudinov and Natalya Pankova of Russia, among the pre-race favorites in the race.