Why do Swimmers ♥ Kayakers? Meet Beth.

A few weeks ago I found Beth Barnes on Twitter (@Beth_Barnes_LB), and felt a sense of gratitude when reading her 160 character bio: “One kayaker devoted to paddling with open water swimmers. Safety first and everything else falls into place!”. Beth is a kayak escort for open water marathon swimmers helping both expert and novice swimmers fulfill their dreams, and keeping them safe. Beth takes safety seriously. When the US Navy SEALS trained her in safety techniques, she understood just what serious business it is to be a small swimmer in a big body of water. In the photo, we can see Beth flying her yellow flag. She has started producing these flags with the word “swimmer” in different languages. It is her safety kayaker’s dream to “see the open water fluttering with flags to announce to boating traffic that there are precious swimmers in the water”. Beth is now making her move from her native California to Vermont, where she will be helping to coordinate all kayakers for the kingdom swim series, with almost 250 kayakers in the water at once. Thank you Beth for what you do for swimmers, and best of luck in Vermont. It’s a privilege for us to have you on our blog.
Beth Barnes

The world of open water swimming is weird and wonderful to say the least, or shall I say weirdly wonderful! As an escort kayaker for open water swimmers I always marvel at the fact that so many of you take to the open waters with nothing more than a swim suit, goggles and a swim cap and find such delight in facing extreme conditions and monumental challenges.

I take great pride in what I do as a support kayaker, having participated in twenty Catalina Channel crossings and numerous other events, and have made many new friends; not only swimmers but those who support, love and coach them. Safety and constant attention to detail during a swim cannot be underestimated and it is imperative that the kayaker understands the intensity of the job they have been trusted to do. Kayakers are the ears, eyes, point of reference and perhaps the only source of contact for the swimmer during a race, a channel crossing or a training swim so it is imperative that we are trained to recognize signs of distress and how to spring into action when, and if difficulties arise. It is also our extreme privelege to be next to the swimmers when all is well and the swim is going to plan, which is probably most of the time. Before a swim, among other things, I will explain to the swimmer that I will be their lane line and like the line in the pool I will not budge! I will set the course and they will set the pace and this is very important for both swimmer and kayaker to understand. The kayaker is the swimmers best friend since they will be pilot, navigator, feeder, cheerleader and first line of defense in the event of trouble…the only thing the swimmer should have to do is, SWIM!

I fly my bright yellow “SWIMMER” flag proudly as I paddle the open waters. As I so often say to my swimmers….you are a lone swimmer but with me by your side you will never BE alone!

Thanks to Mauricio and friends for opening your Open Water Swim arms to this California Kayaker! Best of luck to all of you and especially best of luck to those training to swim Gibraltar!!! Keep up all the great work with Worldreader, it’s a noble cause!

Beth Barnes

Categories: Guest Posts

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