My friend Beth has built a small business around kayaking for open water marathon swimmers. She paddled for 12 Catalina crossings this year as well as guiding me on my 12.6 mile swim from Manhattan Beach to Santa Monica back in October. She has a major interest in swimmer safety and educating other kayakers on how to best keep their swimmers in line and out of trouble. She sent me a document that she recently put together that outlines a lot of things that swimmers and kayakers need to think about before they get in the water and while they’re in the midst of their swims. I think there’s a lot of good stuff in there and figured I should share, it’s definitely worth a read.

Here’s a brief excerpt about having a plan:

Q: Will there be a ‘plan’ before we get into the open water?

A:  A ‘plan’ is the first thing the swimmer and kayaker should always discuss.  If it is the first time meeting there are questions to ask and guidelines to discuss.  Some first questions to be answered by the swimmer before entering the water:

What is your normal stroke count and does it slow progressively or is it constant?  Kayaker will be monitoring stroke count at regular intervals.

  • How do you breathe?  One side or bi-lateral?  The answer to this will determine position of the kayak but it might also take time to establish the perfect positioning once the swim is underway.
  • What is your desired feeding schedule and what do you eat/drink?
  • Do you want me to alert you to the presence of marine life in the water?
  • How do you want me to alert you when it’s time to eat?
  • Do you trust me to make decisions concerning your safety while you’re in the water?

Check out the rest of Beth’s Advice to Kayakers here!

6 Responses to “Beth Barnes’ Quick Guide to Kayaking for an Open Water Swimmer”

  1. IronMike says:

    Awesome, and you are so lucky to have found Beth. Bookmarking her site now for 2012 when I return to the states!

  2. Rob D says:

    seriously dude, she’s the coolest. Do you know where they’re sending you when you come back to the states yet or will that be a surprise?

  3. IronMike says:

    Too far out…it’ll be a surprise I’m sure.

  4. Manuel says:

    This is great Rob, Thanks! A few of us are contemplating taking on the swim around key west (12 miles). I get nervous just saying it. That’s a long distance in some very hot water. We already have another teammate who is a diver and has volunteered to be my support kayak. I will print this article and go over it with him. Still a long way out but its great to start planning this out early!

  5. Lexie says:

    Beth is amazing! I highly recommend her…so knowledgable and experienced!

  6. Beth Barnes says:

    Wow, I just saw these comments. Thanks and IronMike I look forward to meeting you. Glad this is being circulated, that is the whole idea, I would like to see it in every kayakers hands, pre-swim. One thing that makes my ‘job’ so gratifying is swimmers like Rob D and the countless others who continuously teach me the meaning of perseverence, positive attitude and patience. My swimmers rock, every last one of them and I can’t wait to meet more. I LOVE WHAT I DO!!! Wish I had a swimmer to hug tomorrow at noon for Hug A Swimmer Day! I’ll send cyber hugs, does that count?