Gratuities for a marathon swim

Posted by Scott Zornig, 3 November 2012

At least a few times each year, I am asked by swimmers about gratuities for a marathon swim. This is a personal decision for each and every marathon swimmer to make. With the average sanctioned marathon swimming now costing somewhere between $3 and $4K (boat, entry fees, hotel, food, flights etc.), marathon swimming is a very expensive sport. Unfortunately, it may get a little more expensive for some because in my opinion, a marathon swimmer should reach a little deeper into their pockets for those who were a critical part of the team. I am talking about the boat captain, first mate and support team.

During my short marathon swimming career, I felt it was important to acknowledge the skipper and deckhand with a cash tip. I preferred doing something a little more special for my support crew which meant a commemorative shirt, cap, towel or maybe a relevant adventure book. If the observer was compensated by the governing organization, I would give them the same gift. If the observer did not receive compensation, I provided them a cash tip.

It also is a nice gesture to take everyone out to breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks depending on the time the swim concludes. If everyone is tired and wants to go home, you might consider a post swim, dinner party a few weeks later. The stories are just as good then…especially after a few drinks.

Please keep in mind that support crews and observers work hard during a swim and generally have to drive a distance and take time away from their job and family. It never hurts to remember them for their contribution to your success.

Giving back to marathon swimming

The SBCSA’s board puts in countless hours each year. We volunteer because we love marathon swimming and want it to flourish. The sport has enjoyed tremendous growth over the last 10 years. In 2002, there was only 1 swim which took place from our 7 islands. This year (only 10 years later) we had 25 attempts. The bottom line is we could not exist without our observers. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find observers which mean our board members must add more to our very full plates.

If you swam with the SBCSA in recent years, please consider going through observer training in May and becoming an official observer next season. It would not only help us, but is also a great way of giving back to the sport we all enjoy. We hope to see everyone at observer training next year.


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