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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

FINA To Fix Maximum Water Temperature At 31°C

FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione presented his report to the FINA Bureau in advance of the upcoming FINA World Championships.

Among his topics to the decision-making FINA Bureau, FINA established that the maximum temperature of water for FINA-sanctioned open water swimming competitions will be 31°C (87.8ºF). This rule follows a study carried out by the University of Otago in New Zealand that was conducted in collaboration with FINA, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Triathlon Union today.

With such endorsements from some of the most powerful and influential governing bodies on the planet, this rule will be presented at the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Congress tomorrow in Barcelona.

The FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee (TOWSC) is headed by Ronnie Wong of Hong Kong. FINA has considered, discussed, and researched this maximum water temperature rule since the untimely death of American swimming star Fran Crippen in October 2011. Its decision will undoubtedly have direct implications for conducting of open water swimming events among FINA's 202 member federations. That is, if FINA has provided its stamp of approval for open water swimming competitions to be held in water up to 31°C, then this regulation gives a green light to other race directors and associations to similarly conduct competitions up to this same water temperature.

Given the same stamp of approval of this research by the International Triathlon Union, it will also be interesting to see if the ITU and its own triathlon member federations similarly adopt this same maximum water temperature rule of 31°C (87.8ºF) for the swim legs of their sanctioned triathlons.

Commentaries on the safety of competing in bodies of water up to 31°C are posted here (Commentary #1), here (Commentary #2), here (Commentary #3), here (Commentary #3), and Open Water Race Directors Do The Right Thing. We are hopeful the research methodologies, findings, and recommendations issued by the University of Otago will become publicly available so the swimming, triathlon and endurance sports communities can understand the reasoning behind this maximum water temperature legislation. For all the elite, competitive, and masters swimmers who have ever competed in open water swimming competitions up to 31°C, every single one of these competitors have been negatively affected by the extreme temperatures. Physiologically, it is extremely difficult and goes way beyond the maximum water temperature that FINA allows in its pool competitions (25-28°C).

Putting 31°C Into Perspective

To put 31°C in perspective, imagine a swimming pool at 85°F (29.4°C). Even at 82°F (27°C), performances in the pool start to suffer. At those temperatures, coaches around the world constantly hear complaints that “the water is too hot” from their swimmers. Coaches use aerators and move workouts to the early morning or evening to avoid pool temperatures that are too warm as a result.

Now imagine doing 100 x 100 on an interval where you get very little rest in a pool where the water is 85°F (29.4°C) on a humid, cloudless day. Every swimmer knows how tough that is, especially if they only hydrate every 30 minutes like open water swimmers usually do? Any coach can easily imagine problems with heat stress among his athletes under those conditions.

Now imagine if the temperature of the pool was 87.8°F (31°C)...for a race. Not a workout, but a competition.

Now add to this increasingly hazardous situation the well-known fact among open water swimmers that the temperature of fresh water always feels cooler than the same temperature of salt water. That is, 80°F in fresh water does not feel like 80°F in salt water. The fresh water feels cooler. Flipped around, the salt water feels WARMER. That is, 80°F in fresh water feels more like 82-83°F in salt water depending on the amount of solar radiation.

So essentially that 87.8°F in a fresh water pool feels more like 89-90°F in the ocean, sea or estuary. Swimmers around the world know this.

Now imagine racing 5,000 meters or 10,000 meters or 25,000 meters in 89-90°F. Pool swimming coaches would not stand for it; parents would complain; and athletes would – out of pure physiologically necessity – purposefully slow down and complain until the coach relented.

This is what is happening in the open water world when FINA allows competitions up to 31°C.

In a few countries around the world, when a maximum water temperature is reached, the race is stopped. No questions asked. Danger identified. Danger documented. Game over. Swimmers go home. The safety of the swimmers is not breached.

In contrast with the current FINA rules, the water temperature is monitored at one-hour intervals during the race. That is, if the water temperature exceeds 31°C during those one-hour intervals, the race is not stopped. The race continues. The swimmers are expected to continue racing until the next hourly temperature check. Only then is the race stopped. The safety of the swimmers - and all the safety of the swimmers around the world who will be expected to race in 31°C water - must be the highest priority of any race director, coach, and governing body. This is what Fran Crippen fought for in his all-too-short life.

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.

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

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2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac



An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

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