One day before the big
swim, Guinness Records accepted Thom's bid for the upriver
swim that will establish a new world record in swimming.
The following proposal was sent
to the editorial staff of Guinness Records and includes
Information, our Proposed Rules,
and Proposed Documentation
that would be used in future attempts.
April 13, 1999
The Guinness Book of World Records
Six Landmark Square
Stamford, CT 06901-2704
To the editorial staff:
Iím planning a unique sporting event that Iím
submitting for a new Guinness record category.
The following proposal is based on the guidelines
and examples I found under "Rules" in
the current paperback version of your book. If
the proposal needs to be presented in a different
manner, please donít hesitate to contact me.
On June 5, 1999, I hope to establish a world
record "Greatest Swim Up A Whitewater River."
My event begins at 8 a.m. on Mayo Island in downtown
Richmond, Virginia, and ends later that day 10
miles upriver at Bosherís Dam.
I will swim the entire "Falls of the James,"
a stretch of Class IIIóIV+ whitewater that runs
through the heart of Richmond. I will remain in
the water for the entire event, swimming, dragging,
and clawing my way up several sections of swift-moving
flat water and scores of Class II+ whitewater
rapids. This unique section of river, which is
considered Americaís "Best Urban Whitewater"
by the American Whitewater Association, was host
to last yearís Whitewater Open Canoe National
Swimming in whitewater is an arduous task at
best. Swimming in whitewater, upriver, seems like
sheer insanity. As with any extreme sporting event,
there is that added element of danger. Whitewater
can travel in excess of 30 mph through constricted
channels and rapids, a speed top Olympic swimmers
cannot begin to match. To combat the relentless
force of the river, I wear goggles, flippers,
web-fingered gloves, and shorts. I do not wear
a life jacket or positive flotation device because
of the amount of underwater swimming required
to stay the course.
The following "rules" are derived
from your latest paperback edition using the "General
Sports Record Guidelines" on page 711.
- These guidelines are for a
singular attempt to "Greatest Swim Up A
- Two appointed officials will
keep an event log, and two witnesses will travel
with the swimmer at all times.
- The official log book will
give a full description of the event (see Background
- Swimmerís personal information
(name, age, weight, and etc.)
- The status and address of
organizers, officials, judges, medical supervisors,
- Complete details of the route
(including class of rapids, total elevation
change, and total distance), the total elapsed
time, and any other qualifications required
by Guinness Records.
- Officials at the start of the
event will make the first entry. Thereafter,
timekeepers, officials, and observers will sign
as witnesses that the event is under constant
supervision and all rules are adhered to. The
officials will be fully aware of all event rules
- The chief official and judge
will have complete jurisdiction over the event.
These individuals will resolve any problems
that arise during the course of the event, and
their decision is final.
- A standard unit of measure
(miles) will be used to describe the distance
traveled, and the "class" of each
rapid will be noted in the log. Standard equipment
for this event is limited to goggles, flippers,
webbed-fingered gloves, and a swimsuit.
- A predetermined route will
be established prior to the event. If the participant
retires during the event, the final location,
distance traveled, and elapsed times will be
noted in the log and submitted for the new record
category. Once the event has begun, no participants
may join the attempt as substitutes or replacements.
- Rest breaks for this event
will be held at the participantsí discretion.
Since this event will include the elapsed time
of the swim, the official time will include
these and other diversions. All breaks will
be noted in the official log for final event
- Medical attention, rescue,
and First Aid will be on hand, and an evacuation
team and ambulatory services will be made aware
of the event. Redundant safety contingencies,
back-up equipment, and cellular communication
will also be in place at all times.
The following documentation will be provided:
- A signed and dated logbook
showing that the attempt has been the subject
of unremitting surveillance will be provided.
- Signed statements of authentication
from at least two independent witness of some
standing in the community and/or a representative
of a relevant organization of standing and by
the qualified judges of the activity.
- Independent corroboration in
the form of local or national newspaper clippings
will be obtained and copied. Duplications of
some televised programs that highlight the event
may also be available.
- High quality color transparencies
and/or prints of the event will be made available.
- Due to the nature of the event,
it may be difficult to obtain signatures from
"visitors." Where friends and family
observe portions of the event, an attempt to
pass a "guest book" will be made.
However, a great deal of this swim will be in
a natural setting where public access is limited.
- The nature of the eventís setting
will make the use of a surveyor difficult. We
will have access to highly detailed topographic
maps provided by the office of the James River
Park System. Notes from the log book will allow
us to retrace the swimmerís route and provide
an accurate tally of the distance traveled.
I hope that the Guinness editors
accept this proposal for a record Big Play for
Swimming the "Greatest Swim Up A Whitewater
River." If you are interested in finding
out more about this event, please check out our
"Up The River Without A Paddle" web
site (members.home.net/thomflash/). Further information
is available from event coordinator Mike Ostrander
(804-353-9887) or Thom Stanton (804-714-6247).
Hereís hoping we set a new record!