What follows is a template for recording what I’d consider the absolute bare minimum level of detail for documenting a marathon swim. Below this minimum level, it’s called a training swim!
Please bear in mind, the minimally-documented swim is not a well-documented swim - those have a formal observer log (completed by someone who knows what they’re doing), photos, video, a GPS track, and other useful data.
Some swims may not require the MSF Documented Swims gold-standard level of documentation. For these cases, it seems worth defining “minimally sufficient documentation” - sufficient to be added to the LongSwims database, or sufficient for someone writing a history of the sport 20 years hence.
- Who? Who swam, and who witnessed it?
- Where? Body of water? Route definition?
- When? Date and time of start and finish. Elapsed time.
- What? What happened? What were the conditions like?
- How? Which equipment and swim rules were used?
By the way: Openwaterpedia profiles and DNOWS articles are not swim documentation!
Here’s the template:
- age on date of swim
- other documented swims (if any)
- contact email
- roles (observer, support crew, etc.)
- escort vessel
- list of all swimwear & equipment used by swimmer
- deviations (if any) from standard unassisted rules
- body of water
- specific start location - if any ambiguity, use coordinates.
- specific finish location
- intermediate waypoints (if any)
- route distance (i.e., sum of straight-line segments connecting start and finish via shortest swimmable path)
- start date, time, and timezone
- finish date, time, and timezone
- elapsed time - hours, minutes, seconds
- summary of conditions - range of wind, water temp, air temp
That’s it! A swimmer or observer should be able to fill this out in a few brief minutes - thus recording the basic facts of the swim for posterity.
Here it is as a downloadable/printable PDF:
If you want to go further, into “well-documented swim” territory, take the above template and add:
- observer log (regular timestamped observations of location, stroke rate, water temp, air temp, wind, waves, and other notable events)
- GPS track
And if you want to go even further, may I suggest some light reading.