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Monday, October 22, 2012
FINA Taking It To The Edge - Part 1
In our experience, observations and opinion, there is simply no justification to allow world-class athletes to race 5 km, 10 km and 25 km in water temperatures up to (and above) 31°C. The problem is even greater because when FINA decides water temperatures up to 31°C are permissible, there will be hundreds of national governing bodies and thousands of races that will also allow their races to be conducted in water temperatures up to 31°C.
World-class athletes know that when the water temperatures rise up to 31°C, then usually the air temperature tends to be even higher than 31°C.
It is frankly a deadly combination when water temperatures increase to 31°C and air temperature are even greater. Unfortunately, Fran Crippen and others are tragically no longer here to argue this point.
World-class professional marathon swimmers - and many other experienced amateurs - will privately admit that racing in such temperatures is unhealthy and unsafe. It is not a matter of debate; it is a fact. Swimming casually in a practice with friends is one thing; racing for money in a competitive situation is something much different. A few of these world-class athletes, including world champions Alex Meyer and Thomas Lurz, are not afraid to publicly speak their opinions against holding competitions in extreme temperatures.
But does FINA listen? Unfortunately not. FINA has proven itself to not only stifle discussions on the merits of discussing extreme temperatures, but it also threatens to discipline individuals who speak out against its safety policies and rules. But FINA found researchers in a cold-water country (New Zealand) who provided FINA with scientific justification that suggests, "Racing competitively in 31°C water temperature is not unsafe."
We cannot possibly understand the behind-the-scenes discussions at the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee level, among the physicians on the FINA Sports Medicine Committee, or at the FINA Bureau level. These representatives of the aquatic community either (a) submitted these recommendations, or (b) approved these recommendations - but were the athletes or their coaches consulted? While there are very few members of the FINA Bureau with experience in open water swimming as an athlete, coach, safety officer or administrator, the situation is much different at the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and the FINA Sports Medicine Committee where many of the members are former athletes who have coached or served as safety officers in open water swimming events. They must know that racing at temperatures up to 31°C is at best uncomfortable and at worse extremely risky and dangerous.
Why does FINA risk such things? Why add to the risk factors in a sport where risks are already part of the game? What possibly could be gained from these new regulations?
According to FINA's new open water safety regulations:
4.7 Water Temperature
(a) The water temperature shall be measured 2 hours before the start of the race and must be a minimum of 16°C and a maximum of 31°C. The water temperature shall be certified by the FINA Safety Delegate and the HMF/OC Safety Officer as measured in the middle of the course, at a depth of 40 centimeters.
(b) The water temperature shall be monitored as provided above at one-hour intervals during the race. If the water temperature drops below 16°C or exceeds 31°C at anyone of the measuring intervals, the water temperature shall be measured again in 30 minutes and if that measurement is also below 16°C or exceeds 31°C the race must be stopped.
i The minimum and the maximum temperatures are under a study by the specialized University of Otago (NZL) as requested by FINA, IOC and ITU; when the results of this study are available, this Regulation will be amended accordingly.
We strongly believe these new regulations use the term "safety" improperly. It is our opinion that these water maximum limit is much too high. As a result, the 31°C not only puts young competitive athletes unnecessarily at risk during FINA-sanctioned competitions, but also places thousands of amateur swimmers at local swims at risk because of FINA's global influence over local race directors and many national governing bodies.
Fortunately, there will be a handful of national governing bodies that will see the folly of FINA's decision.
There are other issues, but here are just 4 potential problems with these new regulations:
1. Increase in air and water temperature during competitions
Because many FINA races start in the mid-morning or early afternoon, the air and water temperatures tend to rise during a competition. According to these regulations, what happens in a 10 km or 25 km race where athletes are swimming for over an hour and the water temperature reaches 32°C? The FINA officials will then measure the water temperature at a depth of 40 cm 30 minutes later and, perhaps, find the water temperature has increased. So the athletes would swim over 1 hour 30 minutes under these unbearable, unsafe conditions.
That is the height of ignorance on the part of FINA in our opinion.
2. FINA's belief that 31°C is bearable for trained athletes
Every open water swimmer knows to expect the unexpected. At temperatures above 28°C even for lean athletes from tropical countries, the water temperature is too high. For athletes from cooler climates, these temperatures are unbearable and can only lead to problems with hyperthermia. There are too many examples from FINA's own competitions that prove this point.
3. FINA's lack of consideration of air temperature and solar radiation
Besides the complications caused by the new water temperature regulations, FINA does not take into account the ambient air temperatures (usually higher than the water temperatures) or other climatic conditions (e.g., cloudless, windless day) in its regulations.
4. The cumulative effects of heat stress are dangerous
What FINA and its researchers do not seem to understand from their research performed in a pool that the CUMULATIVE effects of the warm water and the solar radiation on the backs of the swimmers added to the limited hydration that swimmers take relative to land-based endurance athletes and the stress of racing as best they can in a dynamic environment, after a restless night of sleep, is a lethal cocktail. No matter what the research is conducted in an indoor pool, the research cannot possibly accurately predict what happens to an athlete on race day under such conditions.
We are hopeful that the Daily News of Open Water Swimming is not the only publication that points out the unnecessary cumulative risks that arise due to FINA's new open water swimming safety regulations. We are hopeful that athletes and national governing bodies feel empowered enough to complain to FINA about these new regulations and lobby to get them changed to more reasonable and safer limits. But even if FINA does not change its regulations, we are hopeful that national governing bodies will conduct their own surveys and research to find the appropriate temperature limits for their own domestic races.
A few years ago, leading swimming coaches and administrators around the world felt strongly enough and empowered enough to take FINA on regarding its stance on the use of technical swimsuits. There was a global lobbying effort that ultimately led to FINA changing its regulations. We are hopeful that the world's swimming coaches and administrators feel equally strong against FINA's new open water swimming regulations. We believe that the safety of athletes and minimization of risk in FINA open water swimming competitions are at least as important at the technical swimsuit issue of a few years ago.
FINA's new regulations can be read here.
Our commentary on FINA's actions during warm-water conditions are be read here.
As a frame of reference, we consulted the Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature (WGBT) which is the standard used by the American military to obtain an index to measure heat stress. The WGBT Effects Table (here) shows the water requirements, rest intervals and activity restrictions based on the WBGT...which indicate what all experienced swimmer instinctively know: temperatures approaching 31°C are downright uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.
Photo shows the back of Trent Grimsey at the 2011 FINA World Swimming Championships where the FINA Medical Delegate and the FINA Safety Delegate allowed the 25 km race to continue as the water temperature exceeded 31°C.
FINA Taking It To The Edge - Part 2 is here.
FINA Taking It To The Edge - Part 3 is here.
Why 31°C FINA? - Part 4
USA Triathlon Fatality Incidents Study is here.
New South Wales Maximum Water Temperature Rules are here.
Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association
2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE
The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.
The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.
The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.
Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.
The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.
"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."
Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."
The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme
Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]
Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland
Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance
Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony
Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute
The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:
* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year
For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:
* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference
Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Swim Across the English Channel...
Who else is looking for a qualified open water swimming coach to help them swim across the English Channel?Chloë McCardel is a 6-time English Channel Swimmer who inspires and instructs. Access featured content by Chloë in this month's issue of the Open Water Swimming Magazine. Published monthly by WOWSA, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a digital, interactive publication made available exclusively to WOWSA members. See what you've been missing! Become a WOWSA member today!
Open Water Swimming Magazine
Open Water Swimming MagazineThe Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.
WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...
The Other Shore
The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.
2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac
An Almanac for Open Water SwimmingAn almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.
This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.
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Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:
The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.