On Course Goggles

by Andrew Malinak

Emailed 28 August 2014 11:26 PDT

Long Distance Committee
c/o Anna Lea M—–k
Membership Coordinator
US Masters Swimming

Anna Lea,

We all thought that this was the product of the future. We knew it would come, that it was only a matter of time, but we didn’t think that time would be so soon.

Leaving aside the beauty, joy, and majesty of this sport, open water swimming is a test. It pits swimmer against swimmer, swimmer against nature, and swimmer against self. USMS has embraced this challenge.

It is evident in the 2014 U.S. Masters Swimming Rule Book that challenge is inherent in open water swimming. The rules for Competitive and Solo Open Water Events (Art 303) break out wetsuits and rash guards into a separate category because they offer an advantage over those wearing a traditional swim suit. The rules prohibit any “device or substance to help…speed, pace, buoyancy, or endurance during a swim,” (Sect 303.3.7) because it would give an individual with a “competitive advantage” (Sect 303.7.2C.2) over those without. Similarly, the disqualifications section (Sect 303.9) specifically frowns on many other forms of assistance that do not follow in the spirit of competitive open water swimming.

A new product, soon to be available to swimmers, goes against the intent of current USMS rules. On Course Goggles (http://www.oncoursegoggles.com/) is about to release a new product that enables swimmers to have navigational assistance displayed right in their goggles. Sighting, their Facebook page claims, would only need to be done once for each straight leg of the swim. Such assistance is unquestionably a competitive advantage in open water swimming, allowing those with such a device to chose a straighter, shorter course than those without. That sounds like cheating to me.

As written, the Rule Book does not prohibit this type of assistance. It is in the best interest of your members to make necessary rule modifications and stem the flow of technological competitive advantages into open water swimming. I believe I speak for a large number of open water swimmers in making the following proposition:

Sections 303.7.2D and 303.7.3C

AS WRITTEN: Swimmers are not permitted to wear or use any device or substance to help their speed, pace, buoyancy, or endurance during a swim.

PROPOSED ADDITION: Swimmers are not permitted to wear or use any device or substance to help their speed, pace, buoyancy, **navigation**, or endurance during a swim.

This is merely a suggestion. There are, of course, alternative modifications to the rules that could be made to cover this and future advances in swimmer advantages. I leave it to your best judgement to decide the final course of action, but I am glad to help in any way I can.

If you need any more information, or would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Regards,
Andrew Malinak
USMS 07U87, Club PNA-HMST
a————-@g—-.–m
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