Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pretty in pink...

Swims run by surf life saving clubs in Queensland this coming season will require all swimmers to wear high visibility singlets. Fluoro pink high visibility singlets. The requirement comes under a rule adopted by Surf Life Saving Queensland which comes into force in September, intended to enhance competitor safety in events run by surf clubs. Not just ocean swims, but other events, too, such as surf carnivals.

The rule will have a significant impact on the finances of ocean swims run by surf clubs, with the organising club providing the singlets which, presumably, will be returnable after the swim. Clubs will be seeking sponsors just for the singlets. They'll also be guessing at how many they'll need and the mix of sizes, and working out ways to ensure they get them all back.

We understand the SLSA in Victoria also is bringing in the rule, although we're not sure whether it will extend to ocean swims as well as to internal SLSA events, such as surf carnivals.

In NSW, we understand the NSW SLSA State Centre will introduce it for surf carnivals,  but not for ocean swims, and that requirement will become compulsory only after another year.

A trifle over the top? Seems so to us. Sure, there have been tragic deaths at the SLSA national championships over past years -- and we don't dismiss them at all -- but nothing has ever happened in ocean swims in Australia, to our knowledge, to justify such an extreme step.

A more effective policy, and a more constructive step for the SLSA, would be to stipulate cap colours. Fluoro pink, for example, along with fluoro yellow, green... bright colours that stand out in the rolling, restless sea, would be a far more effective safety measure than something that's going to be below the surface anyway. And certainly far more effective than the "lost at sea" range of colours that many swim organisers dispense to us -- charcoal, light grey, navy blue, dark purple, black, etc.

This new rule doubtless is inspired by the deaths at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships. However, the rule applied to the most recent championships, we believe, and they still couldn't find the unfortunate competitor who was lost.

Turn your attention to caps, SLSA. That's where you can make a difference.


  1. I, for one, will not wear a coloured saftey singlet in any swim as I believe we are being over controlled by bureaucratic regulations. I even dislike wearing a cap but maybe a bright fluorescent cap might be the answer for competitive ocean swims.

    If wearing a coloured singlet becomes mandatory for Ocean Swims, then leave me out.

  2. I think the idea of wearing the pink (which was determined the highest visibility after quite a lot of testing) is more about locating the "injured party" once they are determined missing. After watching the search last year and the agony the parents went thru waiting for their boy to be found, I think anything that can help water safety crew locate swimmers is a huge plus.

    We swam in these vests at the last two Aussies and you don't even know you have them on. The guys in our team also had no problems at all with them. It seems over the top but we stress prevention and hopefully it will help keep a zero tragedy count intact for the future.

    Lee Howes
    Newcastle SLSC

  3. Hi, the pink vests don't bother me at all. When I help with water safety at Coogee and Malabar, from the surf ski you can lose a swimmer you're watching with the blink of an eye.

    I'm grateful for the bright caps to spot laggards and novices. I couldn't believe the dark colours that Long Reef and some of the other clubs chose for caps. It's like asking to be invisible if something goes pear-shaped.

    Here's a thought, could lead by introducing the vests on your website and managing the sale of the rashie/surf shirt.

    Competitors would buy that years vest from you and get a "discount" off the swim, a little like the pre registration v rego on the day.

    Bring on summer!


  4. Apparently even beach sprint competitors at surf carnivals will also have to wear them—so go figure that one for safety?????

    Any surf club competitor will be required to wear them for training as well. As was pointed out by one serious competitor who trains 7days a week—To have it on for 2 hours is uncomfortable and gives chaff, where as in racing they are on for maybe 10 mins. So I can see how it is going to be restrictive for ocean swimmers who do the longer races. This competitor went on to say that she would need more than one as it won’t always be cared for between sessions and will become smelly and mouldy quickly. Also ridiculous tan lines and the often sponsored cossie will be covered up so there goes that little perk.

    You don’t have to look far in society to see that we have entered the Century of Stupidity.

  5. The flouro pink vests are a massive step in the right direction, however the fabric that is used by most manufacturers will fade quikly. This then posses the question " at what point will the colour of the garment be deemed too faded for further use". And how will the judges on the day be able to make the ruling. I would hate to be in the position that the judges may be put in if there are no shirts left and they deam a childs singlet too faded to wear.
    We at Leada Swimwear are currently working on a fade resistant fabric that will be availble shortly but until then we are supplying a very high quality Lycra fabric that is resistant to fadeing but of course over time the colour will fade especially as we do put them through very harsh conditions.
    Swim hard, Stay safe

  6. I am a regular ocean swimmer in NSW and I get the impression that the problem is one beach,one comp which is NOT run by anyone that i have any interest in who sends kids out in dangerous conditions in bug heavy wooden boats.I'm not planning to wear high visibility vests anytime soon.Anyone race which wants me to do so will be ignored

  7. Whilst I also hate being told what to do, if it saves one life it is worth doing.

    But Why pink??? Surely fluro yellow would have been ok??

  8. I think it is a very very sensible idea.

    If a little bother for us all saves one life, it was well worth it!!!

    I think NSW should hurry up and introduce this rule.

  9. Yes I think fluro vests is smart.

    Rules are ok as long as they are not stupid rules. This one is going to make it safer to swim in our events.

  10. I have been clocked on the head by an elbow in an ocean swim before so I would like to be more visible. Good idea for water safety.

    BUT please don't make us buy one for each swim. A one off purchase of an approved vest would be much better.


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