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  #1  
Old 03-04-2015
ThomD ThomD is offline
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Default Survival Swimming

I learned the Combat Swim Stroke (CSS) a few years back, and then a year or so after that I learned TI from videos on Youtube. Both have been very helpful. At the moment I find TI more efficient, and I am assuming the main advantage of the CSS is the lower signature.

I am not training for the special forces, or competition, or even fitness. I am a regular guy who lives near the water, and has all his life had a number of open water interests and had to keep an eye on possible self-rescue situations in what are often empty, and cold lakes. I realize the interests here are largely different.

Has there been a discussion of survival swimming, and what methods are best, how different strokes differ (are there other strikes I should know other than TI, or CSS). How to use or carry a lifejacket when swimming out. Use of fins. Should I stay or should I go. That kind of thing.

In particular how applicable are TI techniques (which CSS is also) to cold water situations where it might speed the onset of hypothermia.

The most common stuff is wear a lifejacket, and drownproofing. The world is more complex, both of those can get you killed.
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  #2  
Old 03-04-2015
Tom Pamperin Tom Pamperin is offline
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Originally Posted by ThomD View Post
In particular how applicable are TI techniques (which CSS is also) to cold water situations where it might speed the onset of hypothermia.

The most common stuff is wear a lifejacket, and drownproofing. The world is more complex, both of those can get you killed.
Good question--I'm a small boat sailor, and often cruise open boats alone in fairly remote areas where waiting for rescue is not a realistic option. You're right that the only advice approved by the general mainstream discussions is "wear a life jacket."

The problem is, all the life jackets/pfds I know put your body in a vertical position in the water, making effective swimming impossible. The auto-inflatable pfds many sailors use look worse--they inflate a giant horse collar around the neck, hampering movement and making it harder (I suspect) to get back in your boat.

That said, cold water is no joke. It can render you helpless very quickly, so then you WILL need that pfd to hold you up and keep you alive. And as you point out, movement (even TI swimming) will cause you to lose heat much faster than huddling motionless in your pfd. Then again, if you're in a remote area and no one is there to rescue you, well... a pfd won't be much help in the long run anyway.

My take on it is that TI has made me so comfortable in the water that pfds seem much less important to me than cold water protection of some kind. A good drysuit, with insulation underneath, is what I often wear in dicey conditions. I want something that will keep me warm enough so I can re-right my boat (assuming a capsize) and get back in. I'm far less concerned about having a pfd in that situation because it will likely just get in the way and make my job harder.

On the question of staying with the boat or leaving? Depends. First question: can you get your boat sailing again by yourself? (If not, I'd suggest getting a boat designed to make it easy for one person to recover from a capsize).

I think it's much more likely that I would stay with the boat, re-right it, and get sailing again rather than abandoning it for a swim. That said, with TI, I think I could swim a LOOONG way and stay safely afloat for a LOOONG time if I had to--unless the water is too cold for that.

Long rambling reply, not really an answer. I'm interested in what others may have to add to this discussion, though.
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  #3  
Old 03-04-2015
sojomojo sojomojo is offline
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Several years ago, I was watching a TV documentary about Irish fishermen who fished the north Atlantic in small dinghies. I was amazed that none of the fishermen wore life jackets and many of them claimed that they didn’t know how to swim. Their philosophy was that if you went overboard you were a dead man and it was better to die quickly than to die slowly.

Hypothermia is a killer so I can understand the fatalistic philosophy of the Irish fishermen. That being said, I’m always amazed at people who are able to “survival swim” for long distance / time; but those “survival swims” almost always occur in warm tropical waters.

Last January, former Miami Dolphins football player Rob Konrad swam 9 miles / 10 hours to get to shore after falling off his boat without a life jacket. That’s an amazing will to live. I wonder what kind of swim stroke he used?

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/m...109-story.html

You hear of similar stories of passengers on Caribbean cruise ships who fall overboard and somehow manage to stay afloat for a long period of time.

“Survival swimming” is a skill taught to US Navy and USMC recruits. Since the most likely scenario is that they’ll fall overboard while full clothed, they’re taught to inflate their clothes to stay afloat.

http://www.lifesavingsport.com/swimm...e-clothes.html

About 10 years ago, a Marine fell off his ship in the Arabian Sea and he was able to stay afloat for 36 hours using this technique. Again, good training and a strong will to survive.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1...rine-lance-cpl

For me, the “survival swim” that I was taught as a youth was the “drown proof float.” I was taught this skill in a warm swimming pool, but I don’t know if I could perform it in rough cold open water. I sure hope I never have to find out.
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  #4  
Old 03-06-2015
ThomD ThomD is offline
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The Irish fisherman example is interesting. I have family over there, and while the more modern the kid, the more likely they swim, people didn't swim that much over there when I was growing up. None of my cousins, can really swim, and for the most part they avoid the water. You probably learn in a pool, The ocean and fresh water are cold. And another factor we never think of over here is that most of the fresh water, such as it is, is private, while in Canada, almost all of it is public. So the tradition of swimming was not great.

The other thing is the correlation of that story with the founding of the Outward Bound program, a program of outdoor education, in my time mostly for kids. The story I heard based it in WWII, is that when ships were sunk, and people were dying in the water, almost oddly the older ones (not likely water babies) were surviving, when young fit men were dying. They came up with the idea that they were simply giving up. So they gave them training programs that would convince them they could survive. Randomish stuff like Rock Climbing and obstacle courses. In my day there were some serious accidents that to some extent seemed to relate to the fact they thought themselves to invincible, but the overall idea worked. Meaning that some of the desperation about cold water survival was misplaced, though not much.

I appreciate the serious replies. There is a lot to consider in survival or general waterman training. I mentioned cold because it had occurred to me, due to some bodies I have been in on the retrieval of, but there seem to be many other subjects that one should know to be completely competent in the water. BUDs training, that many people are interested in, is another such thing, but not from the competitive perspective. Part of that is separating the guys who can be chosen, but in the various stories there is a lot of information that could be more generally distributed to create understanding for survival. Survival is a catchy word, it goes beyond that to being completely competent, and at ease (to whatever extent is warranted).

Does anyone have any info on the relative strengths of the CSS VS the TI styles? Am I correct to say stealth. CSS seems more leg oriented, so it might balance out against TI?

PS: I know people who carry on about the cold at near room temp, when they are short a cardigan. I was in crash up here during a Dec, and experienced a core temp around 85. I did not suffer, though there was a lot of other "noise" at the time. I do see that people they throw in water tanks to test on the effects of heat loss, seem to suffer. Maybe the rapidity of loss is also a factor. My decline was over 3 hours. Still, not planing to off myself any time before the end if I do end up in water.
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  #5  
Old 03-06-2015
ThomD ThomD is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Pamperin View Post

The problem is, all the life jackets/pfds I know put your body in a vertical position in the water, making effective swimming impossible. The auto-inflatable pfds many sailors use look worse--they inflate a giant horse collar around the neck, hampering movement and making it harder (I suspect) to get back in your boat.

That said, cold water is no joke. It can render you helpless very quickly, so then you WILL need that pfd to hold you up and keep you alive.
The problem there (as I am sure you know) is that unless they actually hold your head above water and waves you will drown anyway. In the one recovery I was in on, two Physed Uni graduates were on a course celebration and got into a canoe. They ended up in the water in squally, but not desperate situations. By the time we got them, not long after their capsize, both were dead, one with, and the other without a life jacket. The Jacket, I think was one of the good one that throttles your neck. In the kind most sportsman wear, there would not have been any head support at all.

Quote:
My take on it is that TI has made me so comfortable in the water that pfds seem much less important to me than cold water protection of some kind. A good drysuit, with insulation underneath, is what I often wear in dicey conditions. I want something that will keep me warm enough so I can re-right my boat (assuming a capsize) and get back in. I'm far less concerned about having a pfd in that situation because it will likely just get in the way and make my job harder.
I was in a situation about 11 years ago, when the motor fell off the transom of my boat, and augered to the floor beneath. I forget what I did exactly, but it involved anchoring the boat, swimming a long way to the shore, and then probably paddling back to the boat and towing it, or maybe towing it with fins. I had 3 people on board, who could not leave. The situation was far from survival, which is why I took the self-help route. One possibility at and beyond actual middle age is heart attack. I am comfortable in the water, but who knows. So what should the grab bag on a small boat contain? Well oars might have been nice (don't work on this particular boat). But seriously, what about swim fins, and a tow bag for the PFD. Get feeling a little panicky, and you have an alternative. I think about this stuff, but I don't really know what is best. There is a fairly big difference, and it can work either way, in choosing to do something, and being forced by circumstances.

Boats can be disabled for a lot of reasons, like hitting stuff, or having structural failure. I am pretty confident in my boat (not the one from the story above any longer). But it is like first aid, it would be comforting to have some greater skills. And there are many possible bad places to get wet than from boats. The other drowning that touched me was at a weir. It seems like the info should be more organized, obviously not here, but some place.

Last edited by ThomD : 03-06-2015 at 06:15 AM.
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  #6  
Old 03-25-2015
pottsshawn pottsshawn is offline
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That said, cold water is no joke. It can render you helpless very quickly, so then you WILL need that pfd to hold you up and keep you alive.
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  #7  
Old 03-26-2015
dougalt dougalt is offline
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Interesting thread. My initial attraction to TI was the survival aspect - I wanted to be able to swim a mile or more in open water without having a panic-induced failure. I like the line, "...TI has made me so comfortable in the water that pfds seem much less important to me". To me, that's what TI is about.
A unique approach to Personal Flotation Device strategies is the "SwimIt", a gas cartridge-powered inflatable vest in a very compact and streamlined container that is worn strapped around one's thigh. I got one of these a few years back to wear whenever I swim outside the surf line. It gives me some peace of mind to have a back-up strategy if I get too exhausted far from shore. ("Far", for me, could be a mere 100 yards, but with difficult surf or with rip currents to deal with.) If I really need it, a quick yank on a rip-cord and the thing inflates. After experimenting with towing various flotation devices, this approach enables completely free swimming technique.
The SwimIt device could be ideal to wear on boats. It is unobtrusive, can be worn continuously while doing all sailing activities, and is always there if one goes overboard.
www.myswimit.com
(I have absolutely NO connection or commercial interest in this company or its products - I just think it is a useful device.)
Of course, this device doesn't address the COLD issues...
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