Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The use of swim streamers in channel swims and marathon swims has been debated by a few.

But, at the heart of the debate, we wonder, “What is really the practical difference between a channel swimmer who uses a swim streamer and a channel swimmer who swims between two kayakers or between a kayaker and a pace swimmer?”

In clear waters like the Tsugaru Channel in Japan where swim streamers are regularly used, the swim streamer is relatively easy to see at dusk, at dawn and throughout the day in any amount of turbulence. The swim streamer helps the channel swimmer stay on course – or at least parallel to their escort boat.

In waters like the Catalina Channel where pace swimmers can be used from shore to shore or where swimmers are sandwiched between kayaker or paddlers throughout their crossing, the positioning of the channel swimmer relative to the kayakers, paddlers and pace swimmers helps the channel swimmer stay on course – or at least parallel to their escort boat.

In channels where kayakers, paddlers or pace swimmers are not allowed by the Japanese Coast Guard (e.g., Tsugaru Channel), the swim streamer has safety, bureaucratic and historic reasons for its use. In channels where kayakers, paddlers and pace swimmers are allowed (e.g., Catalina Channel), the solution to enable a swimmer to swim straight and parallel to their escort boat simply takes a different form.

These are some of the things we ponder in the open water.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association