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  • BSA mile swim

    The way I am reading the requirements it can be done in a pool. Correct? Incorrect?

  • #2
    Yes. But if the swimmer stops at the wall or stands in shallow water I personally would disqualify.


    • #3
      Agree with KDD...the intent is continuous swimming without touching bottom or holding on to the sides. Resting strokes or floating are allowed. I have seen kids on swim teams who do flip turns and glide half the length of the pool. I've allowed that, since I figure they do the mile swim every day while in training. Back in the day, we did it in the James River following a wooden rowboat...half mile against the current and a half mile with the current...water over the head and nothing to hold onto unless you were giving up.


      • #4
        I don't think swimming in a pool meets the intent of this award. Take it from someone who does (ok, did) triathlons: pool swimming is WAY different than open water swimming. Requirement 1 mentions "distance swimming over open water":
        1. Tell what precautions and procedures a swimmer and escort must follow for distance swimming over open water.
        Requirement 4 talks about a measured course. That clearly implies that a "course" is involved rather than 32 laps.


        • pcola
          pcola commented
          Editing a comment
          From the Aquatics Supervision -34346 it only mentions "open water" as a discussion", and your "Strict Interpretation" of "course" is your interpretation.

          Every mention of the mile swim in the Aquatics Supervision mentions pools first:

          "The distance can be covered in a pool or in open water." - Page 10

          "Long distances may be achieved in a pool or an established waterfront swim area by swimming laps in accordance with Safe Swim Defense policies."- Page 70

          "The mile may be covered by laps in an enclosed or protected area or in open water . . ." Page 296

          However, I do think we should engage in these activities to encourage growth and accomplishment, and not just obtaining "Awards". I use the college pool during the winter months to help develop the skills so that we can have scouts comfortable in water, so that when we are in the Gulf, or Bay, or Lake, or River, we are competent and confident in our skills. The mile swim is just a Milestone along the way for a great scouting experience.

          You guys must have forgotten your childhood or else had a bad one.

          1. Explain how regular exercise contributes to good health and why swimming is one of the best forms of exercise.
          2. Tell what precautions and procedures swimmer and escort must follow for distance swimming over open water.
          3. Under the supervision of a currently trained BSA Aquatics Instructor or equivalent, participate in four hours of training and preparation for distance swimming
          (one hour a day maximum).
          4. Swim one mile over a measured course that has been approved by the trained instructor who will supervise the swim

      • #5
        While I agree that open water courses are the best for the award, it has been acceptable to do it in a pool for decades. Also agree that the spotter and/or observer should add lengths or disqualify if stops are made with feet down, it is not easier necessarily in a pool. I have done 25 official swims in lakes, the ocean, or pools, and frankly, the constant losing of momentum with the turns is tiring; and often you also have to contend with other swimmers either doing laps or just fooling around, which can cause collisions and unexpected water in your mouth. Most camps at which I have done it require a quarter early in the week, and sometimes a half too, before doing the total distance. It has always been a personal thing with me that I have done a few extra lengths to be sure I made the distance and did not miscount or have my observer miscount; and I have felt annoyed at times when they allow kids to stop and start. Ultimately, you always know if you actually did the real thing; and you live with your self judgments.

        I do not agree with the occasional camp that has allowed a cumulative swim, giving credit for a quarter one day, then another the next and so on.

        Had one older scout who only made it to first class due to swimming issues, go with me to count in a pool. He decided he wanted to try it. But the only stroke he did well was the elementary back stroke. So, he did it, on his back almost the entire way. He is now a Lt. Colonel in the army and was a Ranger. He jokes that if the gear in the water test was any longer, he would likely be a grunt forever. His daughter already has had extensive lessons, and he will soon put his son in them as well, and he is only 3 I think.


        • Brewmeister
          Brewmeister commented
          Editing a comment
          To me, swimming laps to earn the mile swim would be like walking 40 laps of an oval track to do your hiking badge 10-milers. It's just not the same, and there is no "course" involved with swimming laps in a pool as the mile swim award asks for.

        • King Ding Dong
          King Ding Dong commented
          Editing a comment
          Skeptic, Speedo make the Vanquisher in -2.0 to at least -6.0 for less than $20. If your eyes are different you can buy two pairs and switch the strengths having a backup. My son is -2.5 and couldn't do a flip turn without them.

        • Sidney Porter
          Sidney Porter commented
          Editing a comment
          As far as not seeing well enough to do flip turns. I use the perscription sporti S2. They are around $8 a pair at swimoutlet. My son also use the kid size non perscription verison.

      • #6
        I'm with the 'No Pool' crowd.
        1- Pushing off the wall if you're doing down and back laps lets you coast half the distance. No open water comparison.
        2- If you're swimming circles around the pool, you'll need buoys to mark the insides of the corners or the laps will circle smaller each time around. You'll need to calculate your distance for laps around the buoys, not the outsides of the pool. (At one summer camp they held the mile swim inside their designated swimming area. 40 swimmers trying to stay off of each other going in circles on the edge of a monster lake...).
        3- An integral part of the Mile Swim is the confidence you get from knowing that you can swim long distances if you ever have to. You're exposed. There is no nearby shore to save you or pool edge to grab onto when your boat flips in the BWCA.

        You can swim a mile in a pool, but it's not the same...


        • packsaddle
          packsaddle commented
          Editing a comment
          No pool here as well. The practical utility of being able to swim a long time has to do with survival and is completely irrelevant to a pool. The boys who do this in our unit do it in open water. The pool is fine to work up on endurance. But the test should be a real test.

      • #7
        It depends what your goal is.

        If your goal is to give the boy his patch, by all means have him swim laps in the pool. If you want him to learn how to swim in actual conditions that he might be faced with in Scouting, have him swim in open water as the requirements imply, but do not technically demand.


        • #8
          Don't forget the 4 hours of conditioning requirement. Some camps have a program for it, others leave it up to the unit leader to enforce it. My unit leader does not.


          • #9
            I completely agree open water is very different than a pool, but you need to be a real good swimmer to get much off the push unless the pool is less than 25 yards or meters. If they can pull off 72 flip turns in a 25 yard pool without choking once, I say they have it down. I think if the BSA wanted it restricted to open water they would have put it in the rules.


            • #10
              So Does Swimming in Nonshark infested Water count? I mean after all swimming for your life is different from just swimming. What about swimming in a Texas Pond barely Bigger than a Pool does that count?

              Luckily when I was scouting we had a Camp still with a Small private lake.. On staff We did mile swim Every Camp Perkins after doing it one time in the Pool..I only did it once never again.. I technically Earned Mile Swim 15 times...Only wore 1 Badge tho


              • #11
                I first earned my mile swim in a pool. Not until our scout reservation opened with a 250 acre lake, could I even think of doing it any place outside of an aquatics area.

                Open water (150-200 yard legs) was much easier. Complete straight shot would be easiest. KDD's spot on about the flip turns.


                • #12
                  I prefer open water with a course. It's easier to "fudge" the rules in a swimming pool so it should a last resort for a mile swim. If using a pool, judging should be diligent (i.e., no touching the bottom, no touching the sides). I agree that making the turns at every end of the pool is tiring because momentun is lost and has to be re-gained which makes it an equalizing factor.

                  As a last resort, swimming pools are sometimes needed in some areas because of low lake levels that occur during extended periods of summer drought. Extended periods of drought sometimes bring harmful bacteria that forms in the lakes and warnings are issued to avoid swimming.



                  • #13
                    I'm a fairly experienced open water swimmer. I've done unofficial mile swims in lakes, and half-mile and 600 yard swims in bays, and a quarter mile swim in a beach area. This summer I did the mile swim in a 25-yard pool with a group of about 20 boys. Open water is easier than dodging boys while doing 71 turns.


                    • #14
                      The Mile Swim award is just that: an extra award. It's not a survival metric, it's not a real-world training exercise. Some of our guys have done it in the pool, some have done it in the lake. Both each swam a mile without stopping/standing/resting.

                      Any boy that can "cheat" by pushing off halfway across the pool is an experienced swimmer who will not be challenged by a mile in open water, anyway.
                      If you think he has to do it in a lake because that's more challenging, hey, why be schmucks and stop there? I say they oughta have to do it in a rip tide.

                      If a boy wants to earn the Mile Swim and he wants to do it in a pool, and you've decided that he must do it in a lake you're in his way, not helping, and you're setting yourself up as a tin god in violation of the GtA. It's "swim a mile," not "swim a mile in the most difficult circumstances your SM can think up."

                      Funny story: I "earned" my Mile Swim at camp a while back. I went down to watch/photograph one of our boys since the camp asked each unit to send an adult to spot, and when I met him after he got out, the lady handed me a clipboard and told me to sign. I thought I was signing as a witness since they'd told us all to send an adult. We got home and the Advancement Chair hands me my card and patch, and says "wow, well done, that had to be really difficult." We had a good laugh about that.


                      • JoeBob
                        JoeBob commented
                        Editing a comment
                        With standards that high, an Eagle is just a Crow with white paint on his head.

                      • Brewmeister
                        Brewmeister commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Y'all need to quit making irrelevant statements just to discount something you don't personally like about the requirement.

                        The requirements do NOT specify "rip tide" or "shark infested water." They do specify "open water" and the ability to swim a "course."

                        You might as well argue your "open water" means that you swim without the pool cover, or that you only go when the pool is "open."

                        But as always, it's up to whoever is administering the award to sign off on whatever he or she feels qualifies.

                    • #15
                      While we are at this, should se debate if this is an award Scouters can earn or just Scouts ? Does your camp award this to Scouters .


                      • perdidochas
                        perdidochas commented
                        Editing a comment
                        It is an award that Scouters can earn, at least at two summer camps I know of.

                      • PA Scoutmaster
                        PA Scoutmaster commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Scouters can earn the mile swim as well. I can testify that it was much easier at 14 years old than it was at 47. I don't really care about a patch, but I went along to support some young scouts that wanted to try. About 5 minutes in, I knew they didn't need my support. I only needed to finish and save face.

                      • qwazse
                        qwazse commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Our camp has a nice Friday tradition: mile swim before breakfast, five mile hike around the lake before lunch, and four mile canoe around the lake after lunch. They call it the Heritage Reservation Iron Man. Youth and adults may participate. Comes with a nice t-shirt. (Used to be in Steelers colors, but I think the Ravens fans weren't buying them, so they changed the design. )