Open Water Swim Across Okanagan Lake

Support Paddler Instructions

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General:

Be alert; ensure a safe event for ALL swimmers and yourself. Be aware of your surroundings!

Be sure you have read, understood and signed the Support Person Waiver and submitted it prior to the morning of the swim (preferably at event package pickup night on the Friday).

Your swimmer has chosen you as a competent paddler/support person and is responsible for you and needs to account for you at the end of the swim. Any issues must be reported to event officials.

You must have a PFD for yourself and an extra one with you for your swimmer.

Make sure you have two paddles, a bailing device, a tow rope, and a whistle.

You must have a cell phone. Should an emergency happen, call the Safety Director Jon at 250-469-2755 and alert nearby safety boats by raising your paddle vertically in the air, waving it, and blowing your whistle.

Make sure you bring warm clothing and sun protection, and perhaps water and a snack. You could be paddling for almost 4 hours, you need to provide for yourself during that time.

Race Start:

You should discuss in advance a method of identifying and finding each other - all swimmers look the same when in the water. Make sure you know your swimmer’s cap number. In addition, you could attach a bright-coloured balloon to the watercraft, or you could wear bright clothing or a unique hat. We recommend that you be distinctive so that your swimmer can swim to you at the start of the race and then go from there, rather than you trying to paddle into the crowd of swimmers trying to find your swimmer.

Position yourself parallel, but slightly ahead of your swimmer. You must be able to see them at all times. If you paddle directly in front of them you will not be able to see if they are in distress.

If you are supporting a 3.1 km swimmer:

It is your responsibility to get to Rattlesnake Island before 7:45am. We recommend that you leave to paddle to the island before 7am. The race will not be delayed for support boats who are late getting to the island.

Be aware that the 7km swim starts at 7am and make sure you stay clear of swimmers, particularly as they are coming in to the south side of the island to swim around the backside of the island.

Support boats MUST stay on the front side of Rattlesnake Island, leaving the north side clear for the house boat that will be dropping the 3.1km swimmers into the water. The house boat will then be returning to Kelowna.

If you are supporting a 7km swimmer:

You should wait for your swimmer outside of the wooden buoys at swim bay. You must be in position by 6:45am. If you are not there by race start your swimmer will not be allowed to participate! Once the swimmers have left swim bay at the start of the race, you and your swimmer can meet up. Stay out of the way of other swimmers at the start of the swim.

During the Race:

Obey Starter and lifeguard instructions on the water at all times!

Do not stay directly in front of your swimmer but always off to the side, you must be able to see your swimmer at all times.

Your swimmer may depend on you to sight where they are going. You should discuss before the swim whether your swimmer wants to sight for themselves or rely on you. For the 7km swimmers, they will be swimming counter-clockwise around Rattlesnake Island. Guide them to the south of the island, around the island to the north, and then back to Peachland. Be aware that the 3.1km swim starts just before the 7km swimmers will reach the island and so as you come around the island you will be joined by the 3.1km swimmers. Make sure you stay alert to these additional swimmers in the water.

Don’t put your craft in danger and be alert for other swimmers and other support craft.

If your swimmer needs a break have them hold onto the side of your boat (if possible) until ready to continue to swim. They can also hold onto their swim buddy or just float with the buoyancy of their wetsuit.

It is possible that your swimmer will decide that he/she cannot complete the swim, due to bad conditions, illness, anxiety, or exhaustion. Please do not try to convince your swimmer to continue if they report this to you. They know best what they are capable of doing. If they tell you they wish to stop, please alert a support motorboat by waving your paddle or blowing your whistle. The support motorboat will come to pick up your swimmer and take them to the finish line. You should then paddle yourself to the finish.

There will also be time cut-offs for both the 3.1km and 7km races. The 3.1km swimmers have 2.5 hours and the 7km swimmers have 3.5 hours. If your swimmer is not close to finishing at these times a support motor boat will come to pick them up and take them to the finish.

If you see a swimmer with a white cap, it means they are a little anxious about the swim, so pay a little extra attention to them and give them extra space!

Raise your paddle, yell, or use a whistle when your (or any) swimmer needs assistance and alert the closest powerboat. Stay with the swimmer and offer the extra PFD. In case of emergency, call the Safety Director Jon at: 250-469-2755 and he will direct you what to do next.

You should NOT attempt to pull an injured/fatigued swimmer into your canoe, kayak or SUP. Instead, have the swimmer hold onto the PFD or (carefully) onto the edge of the boat. You should then signal and wait for help from the lifeguards on the powerboats.

As you get closer to the finish line, steer off to either side to allow swimmers clear access to entering the finish line chute.

If the swim is cancelled due to sudden bad weather, please assist the swimmers. Where possible, direct all swimmers to return to the start if it is close enough, otherwise assist them as they wait for powerboats to come return them to the start.

Ready to Join Us?

Swim 3.1km or 7km across Okanagan Lake in historic Peachland, BC.
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