30 minute blind swim challenge
Why: To see how straight you swim in a straight line in open water.
Where: Any open water location where you are more than 30 minutes from any land mass. This means you need to be in a lake that is 4-5 miles in circumference, and is relatively round in shape.
How: Spray paint a pair of old goggles that don't leak, but you don't like for some reason, cause spray painting the outside shell will ruin them for any swimming except for this challenge. To creep out your kayaker, paint an eyeball on each goggle.
On a clear day, kayak (or swim with unpainted goggles) with your support person out to a distance that is way more than you could possibly expect to swim in 30 minutes. For me, this is like 1.4 miles or so, just to be safe. Be sure to pick a body of water that is clear of debris, boaters, and other hazards.
You will need a GPS that has the ability to take a waypoint (GPS coordinate). Once you start the swim, have the kayaker capture the waypoint. Be sure to take a good long look around you before you swim. Take a mental picture. Pick a location where you want to swim to. Then put on the goggles which will essentially make you blind. Swim towards that location. DO NOT REMOVE THE GOGGLES. Your mind will play tricks on you. You may THINK you are possibly turning, but if you've practiced, you are probably just second guessing yourself. Just keep swimming.
Make sure you use a kayaker that you've swam with before and you know can stay with you. Typically in marathon swimming, it's the swimmer's job to follow the kayaker since they are guiding the swimmer along a course. This exercise is the other way around. The kayaker follows the swimmer. Make sure the kayaker knows to stay close enough to be able to watch for any possible obstacles and warn the swimmer audibly if necessary. However stay far enough that the swimmer won't swim into the kayak. That could freak the swimmer out. Having no vision AT ALL while swimming can be extremely unnerving. Even in night swimming you have a significant amount of vision available with shadows and small lights.
The kayaker and swimmer should be able to hear each other. If there is any obstacle that could pose a risk to the swimmer, abort the challenge and warn the swimmer. Discuss ahead of time with the kayaker what those obstacles could be. This challenge should NOT be done in a water temp where hypothermia could be a factor.
Once the swim begins, the kayaker should set a stopwatch. The swimmer just keeps swimming for 30 minutes, and at the end of the thirty minutes blows a whistle or screams so that the swimmer knows the time is up. Immediately take a waypoint near the swimmer.
Upload the path taken from the GPS with each waypoint highlighted. The distance between the waypoint is what matters. For a swimmer that is able to swim a straight line the entire time it will be the longest distance for that swimmer. That same swimmer if not a straight swimmer, could do a complete loop and end up only swimming 400 yards, or perhaps makes an L Shape and the distance between the starting point and the end point in a straight line is only half the total distance swam.
Once you've completed this challenge write it up in a log and send it to me. I'll add links and compile a results page.
Example of how this is done.
Example of how this is done.