tragedy in Iowa.

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sully

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Mar 29, 2021, 2:26:59 PMMar 29
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Robin Harries

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Apr 1, 2021, 10:05:09 AMApr 1
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This thread has just been posted on r/rowing. It's impossible to verify, but the poster claims to know one of the rowers who died. It seems that both were in a boat for the first time ever. Water temperature was 40 Fahrenheit, 25mph winds and no launch cover. Horrendous.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Rowing/comments/mglidh/isu_rowing_accident/

Henry Law

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Apr 1, 2021, 12:44:54 PMApr 1
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On Thu, 01 Apr 2021 07:05:07 -0700, Robin Harries wrote:

> This thread has just been posted on r/rowing. It's impossible to verify,

A great deal of uninformed speculation about the cause of the Iowa
incident, which is unfortunate, but lots of first-time experience of
other incidents in similar conditions which (for those of us who've been
even near one) have the ring of truth about them.

I hope to find that the assertion that two of the four were first-time
novices, afloat without a safety launch in wintery conditions, is false.
It had better be; otherwise there's a valid charge of gross negligence.

Our club is having a drive on heel release cord length at the moment; the
emphasis should be there all the time, granted, but it's timely
nevertheless.

--
Henry Law n e w s @ l a w s h o u s e . o r g
Manchester, England

carl

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Apr 1, 2021, 2:44:35 PMApr 1
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Henry -
Thanks for your measured comments. I heard about this tragedy very soon
after it had happened, and of course the reportage was awash with
ill-informed comments.

The stuff about heel restraints, which a reddit poster describes as
"these peices of string (normally a shoelace) that keep your heels in
the boat, and don't let the shoes lift up too far" is possibly
misinformed (see later) but sadly typifies the despicable attitudes
towards rower safety whereby a bootlace of indeterminate length is
broadly considered a safety device. Would trust your life to a shoe-lace??

Most disturbing is the usual presumption of a capsize - "for how else do
rowers end up swimming?" What a pity folk can't stop idly speculating.

I deplore the knee-jerk resort to typical "blame culture" reaction, but
I do favour a careful listing of the possibilities in order of
probability. Let's explore just a little way, then await further &
better information - what do we know so far?

1. It seems to have been a 4+ as 5 people were immersed & 2 died.
2. This was on a lake, measuring about 1000m x 1700m, set in open, flat
country with very little natural shelter.
3. The wind was variously described as blowing at 20-25mph or 9-11m/sec
4. The lake is relatively shallow - a depression left by a former glacier.
5. The water temperature has been variously given as 37-40F or 3-4.5C,
& there had until recently been freezing conditions.

So the water would have been cold & rough. Crew shells are not fit for
wave heights as little as 20cm/8". If you take a fetch of 1.5km & a
wind speed of 10m/sec, expect a significant wave height of around 20cm.
At 12m/sec wind speed it might be 24cm waves. But wind is rarely
steady, & wave heights are never uniform but form a spectrum with
occasional "rogue" waves rather larger than those around them (up to 30
- 50% higher). These will rapidly fill a shell by slopping over the
sides. The next issue is that the shape of the lake, & depth
variations, can create areas of increased wave height.

The first question to ask is: did the boat actually capsize (possible
but less usual) or was it swamped & sank below the water surface?

In rough conditions an inexperienced crew could indeed capsize, but lay
people love to jump to ignorant conclusions.

However, there are no excuses for under-buoyant shells. We fought that
battle in the UK for 10 years (against unprincipled UK officialdom) from
2000 until FISA mandated full shell buoyancy, but I know that very many
shells in the USA have never been assessed for adequate buoyancy & still
lack the fully-enclosed under-seat compartments which would a) provide
up to 40kg of added buoyancy per seat (making eights and fours fully
buoyant such that they remain safely rowable when swamped) & b) prevent
water already in the boat from rushing to & depressing the least buoyant
end.

A further question concerns type of shell: we think it was a coxed
four, but was it bow steers or stern? With bow steers you have rather
more open volume for water to fill, & it is significantly harder for cox
to extract themselves if the boat is swamped or inverted, especially if
wearing bulky clothing.

Other questions include: presence or otherwise of a capable launch,
adequacy of clothing (multilayer, close-fitting kit is a life-saver in
cold immersion as it keeps an insulating layer of non-flowing water
close to the body), self-rescue instructions, supervision, skill levels
& prior assessment of conditions.

Finally, at those indicated water temperatures to have lost 2 out of 5
after sudden & prolonged immersion is an unsurprising result - the loss
of limb strength through automatic restriction of blood circulation when
chilled can be rapid, rendering a person unable to swim within minutes.

One can understand that young people, after many months of Covid
restrictions, might tend to throw caution to the winds, but this was a
devastating & probably preventable outcome. One of my colleagues is a
volunteer with the RNLI on the R Thames & is aghast at the inane
behaviour of so many "de-mob happy" boaters following the end of the
English Covid lock-down.

Finally, while no one meant this to happen, the blame game (& with it
the denial of blame) may well take precedence over the careful learning
of lessons & proper support for the bereaved. If people messed up, then
it will be far more useful to all if they can be allowed to admit this
without having to go into denial mode in order to defend their doubtless
inadvertent errors.

Our thoughts go to all affected -
Carl

--
Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Find: tinyurl.com/2tqujf
Email: ca...@carldouglasrowing.com Tel: +44(0)1932-570946 Fax: -563682
URLs: carldouglasrowing.com & now on Facebook @ CarlDouglasRacingShells

---
This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
https://www.avg.com

don Vickers

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Apr 6, 2021, 1:02:44 PMApr 6
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There is an update to this tragedy: Iowa State Crew Club president said lake was 'like glass' before deadly accident <https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2021/04/04/isu-crew-president-rowers-surprised-wind-waves-before-capsize-accident-little-wall-lake-deaths/7082723002/>

The club president was the coxswain in what the article indicates was a stern loader. The club doesn't have a launch; or a dock. The club doesn't require swimming tests. The article indicates the boat did actually did actually capsize while perpendicular to the wind.

As any experienced rower knows, the wave through and peaks while the boat is parallel to the wave motion makes the boat very unstable and requires good blade control.

carl

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Apr 6, 2021, 3:10:28 PMApr 6
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> There is an update to this tragedy: Iowa State Crew Club president said lake was 'like glass' before deadly accident <https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2021/04/04/isu-crew-president-rowers-surprised-wind-waves-before-capsize-accident-little-wall-lake-deaths/7082723002/>
>
> The club president was the coxswain in what the article indicates was a stern loader. The club doesn't have a launch; or a dock. The club doesn't require swimming tests. The article indicates the boat did actually did actually capsize while perpendicular to the wind.
>
> As any experienced rower knows, the wave through and peaks while the boat is parallel to the wave motion makes the boat very unstable and requires good blade control.
>

Thank you, Don.

So capsize it was (not a common event), & a stern coxed 4. Avoiding
capsize is feasible in similar conditions, provided the crew sit still &
keep oars perpendicular to the boat, but that may require a level of
calm & awareness beyond an inexperienced crew in such conditions. One
would want to turn quickly to get end-on to the waves, which may have
unduly exposed them those beam waves.

On a wide lake squalls can arrive largely unseen & unsuspected as
precursors of a coming gale. The crew boated at ~08:30, the 06:30
forecast having been for winds 11-14mph, increasing to 17mph by 11:00.
(Earlier reports suggested winds of 20-25mph, which would have
corresponded well enough with 1ft waves). Steady wind speed predictions
often ignore tendency for gusts. I note there was a rule about not
boating in winds >14mph.

The commentary on USRowing rules is interesting, in having no quoted
mention of full shell buoyancy (a FISA standard) but with advice to
carry PFDs in the boat. Effective PFDs do exist which do _not_
incommode rowers, & IMHO they should be mandatory wear when water
temperatures fall below certain limits.

As indicated in the latest report, the crew tried to swim ashore. We
don't know the distance but, if the water was as cold as previously
suggested, & if that swim took over a minute in normal temperatures,
then it was almost certain that some would lose all swimming ability &
drown long before reaching safety. If the boat was also not fully
buoyant, swimming away is the more understandable as it would then seem
to offer little support & the crew in the water would already be
suffering from the cold & consequent failing grip strength.

Hindsight is a terrible thing. Worse still would be litigation over
this. One must hope that lawyers do not get involved as nothing they
might do will bring back the dead. The vital thing is for all of rowing
to learn from this dreadful accident & do those simple things which,
without impairing the sport, can make rowing that much safer. Sadly, we
seem too often to ignore warnings & precedents, as a result repeating
the same old mistakes.

Peter

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Apr 7, 2021, 5:29:01 AMApr 7
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I read the linked articles as stating that the crew had passed swim tests and that water temp was 40F and that the boat was pependicular to the waves when a large one swamped them.
The unknowns in this tragedy are really down to the experience of the crew. Passing a swim test isn't the same as confidence and ability in water and also how fit the crew was and their boat experience and how wet and cold they might have got before the boat went down. The suggestion being that all less experienced crews need to be accompanied by THEIR OWN safety launch.
A wooden boat, however swamped would still have some bouyancy but does that apply to more recent resin constructions?

pgk

carl

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Apr 7, 2021, 8:57:57 AMApr 7
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> I read the linked articles as stating that the crew had passed swim tests and that water temp was 40F and that the boat was pependicular to the waves when a large one swamped them.
> The unknowns in this tragedy are really down to the experience of the crew. Passing a swim test isn't the same as confidence and ability in water and also how fit the crew was and their boat experience and how wet and cold they might have got before the boat went down. The suggestion being that all less experienced crews need to be accompanied by THEIR OWN safety launch.
> A wooden boat, however swamped would still have some bouyancy but does that apply to more recent resin constructions?
>
> pgk
>

Hi Peter -

Good points, but may I clarify a couple of them?

My understanding is that the boat was parallel with the advancing
wave-fronts when rolled over? Certainly a more plausible scenario.

A wooden boat is no more buoyant than a honeycomb/synthetic fibre
composite. The buoyancy comes from volumetric displacement of water,
and a ~2mm thick laminated wood hull is thinner, & thus displaces less
water per unit of hull area, than a composite hull perhaps 5mm thick &
of similar areal mass. But, in reality, the crucial element of the
shell's buoyancy is provided by the sum of all enclosed volumes that lie
below the existing waterline (whether in normal or swamped condition).

When swamped, the hull skin's thickness x area contributes but a part of
this displacement while major contributions come from the fully-enclosed
bow & stern compartments &, most importantly, from the other enclosed
volumes including, in particular, those easily enclosable (but still too
often left open, due sadly to institutional ignorance & neglect) volumes
of the spaces below the slide beds which can contribute ~40kg of added
flotation capacity/uplift per person.

An additional contribution to flotation for a swamped shell comes from
the partial immersion of the legs and buttocks of the seated crew. Yes,
that water may be cold, but it is far better to have cold legs than to
chill the torso by quitting an otherwise floating shell and attempting
to swim.

Unfortunately, it seems the Iowa crew was thrown from the boat as it
rolled over & thus had severely limited options. Which is where
personal flotation devices (which really need not incommode rowers in
modern designs) would have been so helpful.

bnw...@gmail.com

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Apr 7, 2021, 3:09:44 PMApr 7
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This whole event is so unfortunate, but seemingly avoidable, if only with less severe consequences.
Carl, you mention specific PFD's that do not negatively affect the rowers. Can you elaborate/recommend, if not for a specific make/model, but maybe key bullet points for which we should look when seeking these out for ourselves or crew members?
Thanks in advance as always...

bnw...@gmail.com

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Apr 7, 2021, 3:10:54 PMApr 7
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It should go without saying, but, anyone else with suggestions/recomendations would also be appreciated...
Thanks again...

carl

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Apr 7, 2021, 5:58:20 PMApr 7
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> This whole event is so unfortunate, but seemingly avoidable, if only with less severe consequences.
> Carl, you mention specific PFD's that do not negatively affect the rowers. Can you elaborate/recommend, if not for a specific make/model, but maybe key bullet points for which we should look when seeking these out for ourselves or crew members?
> Thanks in advance as always...
>

You might want to look into this:
https://rowsafeusa.org/pfds/
and for comparison into this:
https://www.britishrowing.org/sites/default/files/rowsafe/2-1-SafetyAids-v1.pdf
this might give some helpful info:
https://camprandallrc.org/faqs/tips-info/boathouse-rules/

There has been interest in rowable PFDs in Germany. Maybe one of our
German correspondents (e.g. Henning Lippke) may have something to
contribute on that?

Also:
https://www.lifejackets.co.uk/Lifejackets-Rowing.htm
https://www.rowperfect.co.uk/product/rowing-life-jacket/

I hope that will be enough get started on?

Cheers -

bnw...@gmail.com

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Apr 8, 2021, 1:21:00 PMApr 8
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Thanks Carl

Marc Messing

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May 9, 2021, 2:01:33 PMMay 9
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Regarding specific PFDs that don't interfere with rowing, my own experience suggests this is more a matter of subjective comfort that active interference.

Inflatables come in several different variations, principally those in which the bladder lies flat on the chest and back, and the more common variation in which the bladder is packed into a horseshoe-type collar. It is hard for me to understand how anyone can say these interfere with the stroke. Foam vests on the other hand pose two possible points of interference; between the chest and thigh at the catch, and between the hands and the chest just before release. Some rowers with particularly strong thighs might reasonably find this uncomfortable, others might not. It is, after all, only a couple of centimeters of foam and, presumably, we're not talking about racing in them. In regard to 2.5cm of foam between your chest and hands "interfering with a proper stroke," one might reconsider what a "proper stroke" looks like. Those last few centimeters are the least efficient in terms of mechanical propulsion of the stroke and some coaches regard the foam as a training aid so rowers don't waste extra time and energy pulling the blade against the boat rather than toward forward propulsion.

Among the many I've tried, I've been surprised at my personal favorites and have no issue wearing them on cold water or in nasty weather.

Marc Messing
RowSafeUSA.Org
RowSa...@Gmail.com

Marc Messing

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May 9, 2021, 2:45:07 PMMay 9
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Little Wall Lake, where the ISU accident occurred, is about 250 acres (100 hectares) with a maximum depth of about 13 ft (4 m). Because it's round and flat, water temperatures vary but have been reported at 40f +/- f (1.7 - 7.2 c). The issue of wind speeds is less well known, as the cox reported the lake calm when they set out but videos of the rescue efforts clearly showed whitecaps with relatively strong winds. Beyond this, I can add a little more information, some of which I believe has appeared in news reports: 1) at least one of the two young men who drowned had been a competitive swimmer in high school, 2) apparently two of the women who survived were rescued by residents who launched personal kayaks to help when they heard the cries of distress, 3) the crew apparently capsized as the winds picked up and they attempted to return to the boathouse. This last point would explain them being broadside to the waves.

I will add three points without feigning IMHO. The first is that I see no good reason why rowers aren't advised to wear PFDs on cold water, i.e., below 50f/10c. Especially novices! USRowing has historically taken the position that they don't have the authority to set safety standards -- something that is untrue -- and has continually failed to recommend that PFDs be worn on cold water. If young rowers took the recommendation to put on a PFD on cold water as seriously as they take the "requirement" to take a simple swim test in a well-heated pool, those ISU novices probably would have put on PFDs before setting out.

Secondly, too much attention is being given to the absence of a launch in this instance. USRowing recommends that a launch be within 100 yards on cold water. That's better than being a mile away or still at the dock, but a launch was right alongside Mohammed Ramzan when he drowned at Northwestern University in 2017, launches were nearby when John Steve Catilo drowned on the Potomac River, and Dzmitry Ryshkevich was surrounded by professional personnel when he drowned at the World Championships. We also have a growing number of accounts of launches overturning when they try to get rowers out of the water. Wearing a PFD keeps people afloat until help arrives. Coaching launches sometimes help and sometimes fail.

Finally, it is worth noting that the emergency response time in this instance was pretty good. Very few emergency response teams (fire/ems) maintain personnel on station and fewer still maintain any professional response teams on the water. Under the best of circumstances, after a 911 call is received the dispatcher still has to tone out (alert) the appropriate agencies and then response teams (boat and trailer drivers, EMS, etc) have to be assembled. Only once those teams have been assembled can they be dispatched to the site of accidents.

It should go without saying that a person in cold water without a PFD usually can't survive until professional help arrives.

Marc Messing
RowSafeUSA.Org
RowSa...@Gmail.com

carl

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May 9, 2021, 6:09:19 PMMay 9
to
All very well put, Marc. And no less that I'd have expected from you.
So - many thanks.

Some points I might add:
John Steve Catilo drowned because he fell into the water & his
driverless launch circled him until he was lost. A kayaker saw what had
happened & made a bee line, but from some distance, so was too late. My
understanding (I had some involvement in the aftermath of this case) is
that no launches were close enough to render timely assistance, or they
were unaware that there was a problem before it was too late.

This happened only a few weeks after 3 eights, on 2 separate days, had
swamped & sunk on that same wide, exposed river & the rowers were
rescued not by club launches but by the Fire Department.

John Steve was ejected into the water when he accidentally started the
motor 'in gear'. Because the kill cords were locked away in the club
office he lacked that essential safety device which would have
immediately stopped the boat & thus, in all probability, have ensured
his survival. Because the club's PFDs had been taken to pad boats for
trailing to a regatta, he also had no PFD to keep him afloat when in
difficulties. An all-round good guy, & a promising student, was thus
lost in front of a learn-to-row eight of young teens.

The case of para sculler Dzmitry Ryshkevich remains clouded, unless
others know better. From evidence I have seen, a bolt or bolts on one
side of his wing rigger (equipped of course with pontoons) failed. This
detached that side of his boat from the rigger. His boat then rolled,
putting undue strain on the attachment points on the other side of the
boat, which then broke away. So despite the pontoons, Dzmitry's boat
capsized.

As a para sculler, Dzmitry was strapped into his seat. I heard that his
feet were also strapped into the shoes. I understand that, despite
being under water, he was able to free his feet & may have just managed
to unstrap his body from the seat. I don't know how long this all took
but it may have been some time, during which - as he was training hard
at the time - he may have been under significant respiratory stress.

There's an element of surmise in those details but they appear to tally.
As a launch reached him, Dzmitry did get his head above water but,
before anyone could get hold of him, he slipped under &, when found once
more, could not be resuscitated.

It was being said around that time that perhaps a nut had come loose, &
that lock-nuts should therefore be mandatory. My own hunch is that a
nut or nuts may have stripped (perhaps from repeated tightening - we
tend to over-tighten small bolts, or to fatigue them, by repeatedly
checking their tightness). Whatever, I understand that the relevant
bolts in the undamaged part of the boat were missing when the boat was
recovered & never found.

As well as underlining the problem of getting a rescue launch there in
time (as both cases do) I wonder what is being done to ensure that a
para sculler can be immediately released in the event of a mishap. I
think this is possible, & have a few ideas, but other pressing matters
have unfortunately intruded upon my time since I first learned in more
detail the circumstances surrounding Dzmitry's tragic loss.

Marc Messing

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May 10, 2021, 1:41:44 PMMay 10
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Carl, you and I have some small differences in understanding of these accident details, but they are very small.

What concerns me most about our understanding of these fatal and many near-fatal accidents is that we rarely critical details. Often, in the case of non-fatal accidents, there are no details at all because the parties involved say nothing for fear of exposing liability. In the case of fatal accidents, the official investigating parties don't know the right questions to ask. Additionally, here in the US, coroner's reports may or may not be available depending on state law. When an experienced 71-year old sculler died earlier this year while rowing alone on a river he rowed often, it could have been assumed he died on a heart attack. In this case the coroner's report was publicly available and no, he didn't die of a heart attack. He drowned, rowing in spandex, a tee shirt, and without a PFD.

In the case of Ryshkevich, it is a shame, if not scandalous, that no official accident report is available (or was available when I last checked). The reason I was given by WR was that they couldn't release information until official government findings have been released. To the extent that that may be true, I regard it as inexcusable. It has been almost two years since his death and if we better understood the actual contributing elements we might better prevent another similar accident. My understanding, like yours, is that he was able to free himself from his harness, get his head above water and his arms over the boat, if only momentarily. The fact that he was -- again , according to my understanding -- surrounded by professional rescuers who witnessed the accident and were unable to save him speaks volumes to me about dependence on launches over PFDs.

carl

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May 11, 2021, 6:49:13 PMMay 11
to
> Carl, you and I have some small differences in understanding of these accident details, but they are very small.

Indeed, and not important in this context. But I was intimately
involved in the very sad case of John Steve Catilo.

>
> What concerns me most about our understanding of these fatal and many near-fatal accidents is that we rarely critical details. Often, in the case of non-fatal accidents, there are no details at all because the parties involved say nothing for fear of exposing liability. In the case of fatal accidents, the official investigating parties don't know the right questions to ask. Additionally, here in the US, coroner's reports may or may not be available depending on state law. When an experienced 71-year old sculler died earlier this year while rowing alone on a river he rowed often, it could have been assumed he died on a heart attack. In this case the coroner's report was publicly available and no, he didn't die of a heart attack. He drowned, rowing in spandex, a tee shirt, and without a PFD.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that our sport tries so hard to
project what is an unrealistically rosy view of itself - one which tends
to airbrush out the very real hazards of this particular water sport.

And, as you say, there are those who will do anything rather than accept
that in real life things can go wrong. My experience has too often been
that, until there is no way out, officialdom will usually fight to deny
that something is a safety problem that could be rationally addressed,
to disguise & justify such obstruction by blaming the victim, or by
attacking the whistleblowers - an exercise in which simple truth goes
out of the window - like major corporations seek to marginalise their
Erin Brokovitches to protect shareholder value.

Pro-active institutions listen to safety concerns & address them. If no
one dares express a serious concern - knowing they'll be ridiculed & the
matter brushed under the carpet - safety fails, & with eventually fatal
results. Thus when a member of the UK's national governing body's
Council (a fine engineer at Rolls-Royce, as it happens) pointed out to
them the grave dangers from eights swamping & sinking in bad weather,
our then Amateur Rowing Association promptly deleted all existing
references to the possibility and dangers of swampings from its existing
Water Safety Code. When someone did later die in a swamping (also
involving a drunken coach) the most strenuous efforts were made to cover
this up, to hide the facts from the police and to get people like me to
shut up and go away. It was even pointed out, from within, that my
pressing them for action to prevent future predictable & thus avoidable
fatalities would adversely affect my business! And it did.

Some of this is driven by fear of lawyers and "compensation culture".
Some by sheer stupidity and arrogance. But you have to be pretty awful,
as a person and as an outfit, to publish on your official website
deliberate lies about the actual verdict of a second inquest (itself
necessitated because key evidence was deliberately hidden from the
Coroner by supposedly honourable men the first time round). And awful,
too, to falsely & publicly claim that the next of kin were threatening
to sue the Association (they weren't).

>
> In the case of Ryshkevich, it is a shame, if not scandalous, that no official accident report is available (or was available when I last checked). The reason I was given by WR was that they couldn't release information until official government findings have been released. To the extent that that may be true, I regard it as inexcusable. It has been almost two years since his death and if we better understood the actual contributing elements we might better prevent another similar accident. My understanding, like yours, is that he was able to free himself from his harness, get his head above water and his arms over the boat, if only momentarily. The fact that he was -- again , according to my understanding -- surrounded by professional rescuers who witnessed the accident and were unable to save him speaks volumes to me about dependence on launches over PFDs.
>

Couldn't agree more. If people with real practical experience of what
can & does go wrong are engaged as witnesses in such enquiries, then
lives would certainly be at less risk & deaths more likely to be
prevented. I am at such times reminded of the key part played in the
investigating the Challenger disaster by the late, great Richard Feynman
in exposing the vulnerability of so simple a thing as a rubber O-ring to
brittleness when at or below water freezing temperature. Feynman did
not think himself too important to mosey round the workshops & mix with
the engineers who rebuilt the recovered solid-fuel booster rockets, &
were aware that these O-rings were not always intact after launchings on
frosty mornings.

don Vickers

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May 12, 2021, 2:07:10 PMMay 12
to
There were clearly some horribly poor choices made in the Iowa State tragedy. Carl made a great case of the culture problem at the top of the blazer hierarchy. I suggest there is also a culture issue that likely played into the tragedy in this case. This is a culture where the boat is only a minor consideration of the sport. Carl has posted here here very well about the lack of boatmanship. I wonder how much the kids in this tragedy understood about being ON and IN the water.

It would seem a good thing to have the various national rowing organizations place a bit more emphasis on the BOAT and WATER aspects of the sport. We can always dream because this seems highly unlikely.

One would hope that the ISU rowing team required swim tests. As a part of my high school swim tests, we were also lectured about safety procedures. One of the core messages in that lecture was to NEVER leave the boat even it was totally under the surface. The reports of the accident indicate that the two kids that drowned started swimming to, apparently opposite, shore. This could have been as little as 200 meters and as much as 500 meters. That is an exceptionally long distance to swim in water just above freezing.

I had the experience of being in an almost identical situation when I was in my first year of rowing as a 14-year-old. The difference was that we had a launch and a coach to provide leadership. Being in that icy water was very debilitating.

The lake in which this occurred, Little Wall Lake <https://www.google.com/maps/place/Little+Wall+Lake/@42.2691266,-93.6450937,2652m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x87ee0e90c589a4f5:0x5392df7181a19553!8m2!3d42.2686405!4d-93.6382472>, is just over 1 k north to south and 1.5 k east to west.

For what little it is worth,
don Vickers

don Vickers

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May 12, 2021, 2:45:21 PMMay 12
to
Just a few minutes after posting the above I came across this announcement of a safety seminar via Zoom by USRowing for tomorrow, 13-May-2021:


Topic Safety, Safety, Safety - Making Sure You're REALLY Ready to get Back to the Water

Description
USRowing Safety Committee members Rachel LeMieux (Chair) and Matt Logue will discuss minimum guidelines for safe Rowing practices. They will cover many topics including: Weather, Water Conditions, Emergency Plans/Rules, Coast Guard regulations, among others.

Time May 13, 2021 07:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

URL: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WZYxEpniTZKz1DtgfacONQ

don Vickers
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Marc Messing

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May 12, 2021, 5:44:37 PMMay 12
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Don,

Thanks for the heads-up on the USR meeting.

Did you come across that on their website, or through some other notification?

Marc

Marc Messing

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May 12, 2021, 6:04:20 PMMay 12
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It was reported early on that the ISU students had taken some sort of swim test, presumably in a heated pool, and that they felt it was ok to take a boat out because the swim test represented some sort of "certification."

A friend of Derek Nanni, one of the students who died, wrote on Reddit/rowing that Derek had been competitive swimmer in high school. In the absence of the findings of official investigations there haven't been any reliable accounts of what happened in the first critical minutes after the boat capsized. It isn't known if any of the rowers tried to hold on to the boat, but were unable to reach it because of the wind and the waves or unable to hold onto it in 40f water.

What is known is that one of the effects of cold shock is panic and that panic clouds rational judgment. It is also known that rowers can, in fact, row in life-jackets and that life-jackets save lives. And it is known that USRowing has downplayed these last two facts for years.

As long as new rowers are instructed that they must take a simple swim test in a heated pool before rowing, but that they needn't wear life-jackets under life-threatening conditions (i.e., water temps below 50f/10c), rowers will continue to drown in cold water.

Marc

Marc Messing
RowSafeUSA.Org
RowSa...@Gmail.Com

don Vickers

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May 13, 2021, 7:58:29 AMMay 13
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Marc,

The notification I saw was a Tweet from USRowing. While it is a great that they are running this virtual meeting they certainly don't seem interested in promoting or advertising it.

don

Marc Messing

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May 13, 2021, 12:57:43 PMMay 13
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They have never convinced me of their interest in promoting safety.

When Amanda Kraus took over as CEO last year I wrote her a brief note of congratulations and my interest in youth safety standards. She assured me "Safety is the number one priority at USRowing and it's good to hear from others who are aligned on this work." I wrote her back and said "Safety, in particular youth safety, should be a top priority for USRowing, but it isn't," and then went through a litany of their failures in this regard.

I also called to speak with her immediately after the ISU accident and was told she was unavailable because she was on vacation. Less than six months in her new position as CEO of USR, in the days following a fatal accident she was on vacation and unavailable to return calls.

USR and I have different views on what a commitment to safety means.

Marc

Marc Messing

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May 13, 2021, 8:45:49 PMMay 13
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After tonight's webinar I'll soften my view on USR slightly. They're trying; they're just very timid and have persuaded themselves they don't have the authority to set minimum standards.

Marc

carl

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May 13, 2021, 9:37:27 PMMay 13
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They're not still playing that same harp, are they?
"We don't have the authority to set minimum standards"

They were saying that in 2006, when I was interviewed by USR lawyers in
connection with the case of the drowned John Steve Catilo. I had to
remind them that they policed competition matters very closely. And
that they did have a safety committee, albeit absent from duty.
Whereupon they dropped that "you can't expect us to police safety"
argument like a hot potato.

Keep at it, Marc.

Carl

PS A week ago or more, in a FB discussion, I invited Rachel le Mieux
(USRA Water Safety Chair) to contact me to discuss safety matters. As
yet, no response.
C
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