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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Proper Measurement Of Water Temperatures In The Open Water

When Ram Barkai, Ryan Stramrood, Kieron Palframan, Toks Viviers, and Andrew Chin completed their trio of swims in the Patagonia Extreme Swim Challenge, one main issue was dealing with the cold and currents in the Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel and Cape Horn.

But there were different water temperatures taken:

Barkai’s measurements included Magellan (9°C), Beagle (8°C), and Horn (7°C). In contrast, the Chilean Navy measurements include Magellan (3.9°C), Beagle (7°C), and Horn (8°C).

As every extreme swimmer knows (in both very cold and warm water), every 1°C difference can increase the level of risk.

And this is also true on the other (warmer) end of the heat scale. In other words, just as risky is swimming in very cold water, so is swimming in very warm water. In fact, there are more people who have passed away in warm water and victims of hyperthermia than have passed away in cold water and victims of hypothermia in mass participation swims around the world over the past decade.

What caused the difference in the water temperature measurements? The Navy uses a laser gun to measure the water temperature. (Note: these devices are not approved by the International Ice Swimming Association because a laser has a tendency to measure a few meters below the water surface where the water temperature is lower.) Barkai and the International Ice Swimming Association uses a wireless floating temperature sensor made by Oregon Scientific (shown above).

There are, of course, other manufacturers that also make reliable, good water thermometers. Most race directors and many people use various forms of measurement to determine the temperature of the water: pool thermometers, boat thermometers, permanent offshore buoy marine thermometers, and infrared thermometers that instantly produces water temperatures readings when pointed at the water from the lead boat at different points in the race. However, these are not always reliable or accurate. A professional thermometer with a reliable accuracy of +/-0.1°C is recommended.

Barkai explains the possible differences, “When I swam [and ice mile] in Ireland with Anne-Marie Ward and Nuala Moore, we took a bucket of ice, filled it up with water and submerged all types of water thermometers we had. From my Suunto watch, a pool thermometer and the Oregon Scientific wireless floating temperature sensor. The difference between thermometers was between 1 to 2°C in water temperatures above 7-8°C and around 1°C in lower temperatures.

In the sea, it is very different. If the usual current is cold, like in Cape Town, the water temperature a few meters below the surface will always be cold. In some places, the difference is around 4°C, even in the middle of the summer. For example, on the Atlantic side, there is the icy Benguela current. However, if the normal current is warmer and the air temperature is very cold as in northern Europe, then the water below the surface will never get very cold.

A swimmer gets cold mainly in his or her chest, neck and core body. The hands and legs freezes, but that does not take the core body temperature down so quickly. So the consistent water temperature at around surface to 20" below the surface is the critical one. Additionally, when swimming with a boat, the propeller can create eddies and an upwelling of cooler water around the swimmer

Some race directors depend on the official water thermometers that are anchored on permanent offshore buoys or that are reported by the lifeguards. The advantages of these methods are that the water temperatures are measured consistently throughout the year with the same equipment. The disadvantages are that these measurement devices may be off.

Personal water temperature devices are useful also. That is, if you use a Garmin, Suunto or Casio watch thermometers, you will become familiar with its range of temperatures in various conditions. But these watches can vary not only from each other, but also from other methods of measurement.

While ice swims are at the extreme end of the open water swimming spectrum, the athletes in this spectrum are usually well-prepared and trained to swim in water under 5°C without wetsuits or neoprene caps. However, most swimmers find water under 15°C uncomfortable at best, and water temperatures above 28°C have directly led to all kinds of problems in open water swimming competitions.

In FINA-sanctioned races, the water temperature should be a minimum of 16°C and can be called off if the water temperature remains over 31°C for 30 minutes in a race. FINA officials follow the procedure that the water temperature is checked 2 hours before the start in the middle of the course at a depth of 40 cm. However, FINA does not stipulate what kind of water thermometer is used or how long the water thermometer is placed under the water. That is up to the FINA Delegate to determine. Even in the pool environment, FINA does not regulate or stipulate how its pool water temperatures (required to be 25-28°C) are measured.

Open Water Source believes and recommends that the highest-end professional-grade water thermometer is used. It is a wise long-term investment for race directors, especially those who organize races in what can be considered extreme water or air temperatures by the least prepared athletes in their competitions (e.g., below 16°C or above 25°C).

Additionally, it is always in the best interests of a race director and the athletes for the safety personnel to measure the water temperature at several places along the course - not just in the middle of the course. If the water temperature is consistent throughout the course, the athletes should be informed of this fact in the pre-race instructions. Conversely, if there are colder (or warmer) spots throughout the course, the race director should alert the swimmers of these areas and warn them of the possibility of swimming into cold spots. Generally, an experienced local swimmer will be able to identify these cold spots. Any and all water condition and water temperature hints and latest pre-race information that can be given to race participants is a prudent investment of time and effort on the part of the race organization.

Copyright © 2013 by Open Water Swimming

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The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Agenda

Friday, 19 September



Welcome Reception at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

Documentary films shown throughout the reception:

Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa – Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way
(film by Bruckner Chase)

Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain
(film by Wayne Ewing about Matthew Moseley's Lake Pontchartrain crossing)

Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska
(film by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko about the relay between Russia and Alaska)

The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau
(film about Simon Holiday's Pearl River Delta crossing)

Saturday, 20 September



Registration and Coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland



Keynote Speech:
Colleen Blair (Scotland) on The History of Scottish Swimming



Christopher Guesdon (Australia) on Multidimensional Roles In The Sport



Colin Hill (England) on Recent Explosion in UK Open Water



Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) on The Feminine Code of Achievement - How a Lady from Down Under Revolutionized Professional Marathon Swimming



Simon Murie (England) on Open Water Swimming Holidays: How A New Sector Was Created Within The Travel Industry



Swimming The Oceans Seven
A round table discussion moderated by:
Kevin Murphy (England), with Stephen Redmond (Ireland), Anna-Carin Nordin (Sweden),
Darren Miller (USA), Adam Walker (England), Kimberley Chambers (New Zealand)



Coffee and Break



World Open Water Swimming Awards Luncheon:
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA)

Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year

Olga Kozydub (Russia), 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year

Bering Strait Swim, 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year

Honoring: Vladimir Chegorin, Maria Chizhova, Elena Guseva, Ram Barkai, Jack Bright, Oksana Veklich, Aleksandr Jakovlevs, Matías Ola, Henri Kaarma, Toomas Haggi, Nuala Moore, Anne Marie Ward, Toks Viviers, Melissa O’Reilly, Ryan Stramrood, Cristian Vergara, Craig Lenning, Rafal Ziobro, Andrew Chin, Jackie Cobell, James Pittar, Paolo Chiarino, Mariia Yrjö-Koskinen, Ivan Papulshenko, Zdenek Tlamicha, Zhou Hanming, Oleg Adamov, Andrei Agarkov, Alekseev Semen, Tatiana Alexandrova, Roman Belan, Elena Semenova, Alexander Brylin, Afanasii Diackovskii, Vladimir Nefatov, Evgenii Dokuchaev, Oleg Docuckaev, Roman Efimov, Dmitrii Filitovich, Olga Filitovich, Victor Godlevskiy, Olga Golubeva, Alexei Golubkin, Alexander Golubkin, Alexandr Iurkov, Oleg Ivanov, Pavel Kabakov, Eduard Khodakovskiy, Aleksandr Komarov, Aleksandr Kuliapin, Andrey Kuzmin, Irina Lamkina, Vladimir Litvinov, Andrey Mikhalev, Victor Moskvin, Nikolay Petshak, Sergey Popov, Vladimir Poshivailov, Grigorii Prokopchuk, Dmitrii Zalka, Natalia Seraya, Viacheslav Shaposhnikov, Olga Sokolova, Andrei Sychev, Alexei Tabakov, and Nataliia Usachaeva [represented by Admiral Konstantin Sidenko and Nuala Moore]



Alexey Salmin Pavlovich (Russia) and Dmitry Dragozhilov (Russia)
on the 2016 Winter Swimming World Championships [film]



Sally Minty-Gravett (Jersey) on Motivating Swimmers



Dmitry Blokhin (Russia) and Aleksei Veller (Russia)
on the First World Ice Swimming Championships [film]



Matthew Moseley (USA)’s Dancing With The Water, Crossing of Lake Pontchartrain [film]



Simon Holliday (England) and Doug Woodring (Hong Kong)’s The Clean Swim – Hong Kong to Macau 2014 [film]



International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame (IMSHOF)

IMSHOF Induction Ceremonies and Dinner
with co-hosts Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia) and Steven Munatones (USA).

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Elizabeth Fry (USA), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • James Anderson (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Dr. Jane Katz (USA), IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Indonesian Swimming Federation Open Water Committee (Indonesia), IMSHOF Honour Organisation

  • Melissa Cunningham (Australia), Irving Davids – Captain Roger Wheeler Award by the International Swimming Hall of Fame and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Sandra Bucha (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

  • Jon Erikson (USA), ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer [represented by Sandra Bucha]



International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) Introduction Video.
Welcome speech by host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)






International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF)
Induction Ceremonies and Dinner with host Shelley Taylor-Smith (Australia)

Recognition of International Swimming Hall of Fame honorees:

  • Mercedes Gleitze (England)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by daughter Doloranda Pember]

  • Dale Petranech (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Contributer and IMSHOF Honour Administrator

  • Claudio Plit (Argentina)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Shelley Taylor-Smith]

  • Judith van Berkel-de Nijs (Netherlands)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by Niek Kloots]

  • George Young (Canada)
    ISHOF Honor Pioneer Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer
    [represented by the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation]

  • David Yudovin (USA)
    ISHOF Honor Open Water Swimmer and IMSHOF Honour Swimmer

Sunday, 21 September



Registration and coffee at Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland



Nuala Moore (Ireland) on The Mindset of 1000m at 0ºC



Admiral Konstantin Sidenko (Russia)’s Bering Strait Swim Chukotka - Alaska in 2013 [film]



Ned Denison (Ireland) on Swimming The World



Bruckner Chase (USA)’s Blue Journey-Amerika Samoa
Stronger Together: The Waterman’s Way



Rok Kerin (Slovenia) on Lifestyle Benefits From Open Water Swimming



Survey distribution and group photo-taking



Swim at Stravvana Bay, Isle of Bute


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."

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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The Other Shore

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An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

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