Courtesy of Kevin Murphy, Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation.

When a marathon swimmer attempts a two-way crossing (double crossing) or a three-way crossing (triple crossing) of a channel or lake, there are specific rules that govern the turn-around point.

Whether this is a two-way crossing of the Catalina Channel or a three-way crossing of the English Channel, swimmers, observers, pilots, coaches and governing bodies follow these globally accepted rules.

Kevin Murphy of the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation explains, “The original rule for two ways allowed 10 minutes on land, but the rule was changed in the mid-1970s because Des Renford made use of [the rule] to jog along the shore to [start from] a better position. [His movement] was within the rules [at the time], but it wasn’t the intention so it was changed to:

Clear the water; re-enter the water immediately; once back in the water, the swimmer has up to 10 minutes to restart swimming.

The reason for the original 10 minutes on land was before my time, but I’d guess it was to allow a swimmer to re-grease.

For swimmers who land on rocks the rule is: Touch a rock with no water beyond, then up to 10 minutes to start the return leg.
Many swimmers want to climb on to the rocks, but they risk a fall and a broken leg so when I observe [a crossing] I never insist on it
.”

The multiple crossing rules of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation differ slightly:

DOUBLE/MULTIPLE CROSSINGS: For double crossings to be officially recognized, a swimmer must cross the channel from the natural connecting shore, touch the opposite natural connecting shore, clear the water, resume swimming within 10 minutes, touch the originating natural connecting shore, and clear the water.

While ashore, the swimmer may be handed food and supplies to be administered by themselves.”

Photo above shows Greta Andersen on a Catalina Channel crossing.

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