Up The River Without A Paddle

Overview of event and web site
Event Route and course description
World Record Criteria and Guinness proposal
Training Schedule and event log
Online Media Kit, images, and information
Site Map and content layout
Peak Experiences
Appomattox River Company
James River Outdoor Coalition
Churchill Swim Fins


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 some Background 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 Championships.

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.

  1. These guidelines are for a singular attempt to "Greatest Swim Up A Whitewater River."
  2. Two appointed officials will keep an event log, and two witnesses will travel with the swimmer at all times.
  3. The official log book will give a full description of the event (see Background above) including:
    1. Swimmerís personal information (name, age, weight, and etc.)
    2. The status and address of organizers, officials, judges, medical supervisors, and witnesses
    3. 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.
  4. 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 and regulations.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 assessment.
  9. 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:

  1. A signed and dated logbook showing that the attempt has been the subject of unremitting surveillance will be provided.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. High quality color transparencies and/or prints of the event will be made available.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Thom Stanton

Overview | Event Route | World Record Criteria | Training Schedule | Online Media Kit | Site Map | Credits

Dream, commit, complete.

Caution: This sport could cause injury up to and including your death!
Proper equipment, practice, safety support, and adult supervision are required. Have fun and stay safe!