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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Traversée du lac Memphrémagog Withdraws From FINA

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Since its inception, the Traversée internationale du lac Memphrémagog has traditionally been a swim across the lake from its American shores in the south to its Canadian shores in Magog, Quebec.

For decades since the early 1990s, the 34 km Traversée has always been a FINA-sanctioned event.

But times are changing as the sport grows.

The members of the Traversée board of directors decided that the cost of being a FINA event was too much of a burden. Additionally, they refocused their mission and determined that their event is best suited to catering to amateur swimmers.

While the local organization is entirely responsible for all the logistical and operational burdens of conducting a marathon race, the FINA sanction also requires a number of other financial outlays and commitments from drug testing to hosting FINA officials.

As a result, the Traversée's 34 km race will be withdrawn from the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix and the Traversée's 10 km race will similarly be withdrawn from the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup.

The organizing committee issued as press release that stated, "The many financial and budgetary constraints and the difficulty we experience in obtaining financing from various private and public sources leads us to make this decision. In fact the costs associated with the organization of an event of this nature and the FINA increasing requirements of lodging, meals, transportation, etc. led to this decision."

Over the years, the organizing committee has wisely added a number of events for the growing local and amateur swimming community. The professional marathon race (Le grand marathon) has now expanded to a 2 km pro-am race (Parcours 2 km Pro Am), a 3 km Challenge (Le grand défi 3 km), a 10 km FINA World Cup race, a 1 km trial (L’épreuve du 1 km) for athletes 11 years and older, a children's race (La course des Petits Memphrés) for kids 4 to 11 years, and an obstacle course (La super course à obstacles) where 50% of the course is on land and 50% of the competition is in the water with 12 stations and challenges scattered around lac Memphrémagog.

The board of directors explained, "[We] have decided to return to [our] primary mission to promote amateur swimming competitions that encourage athletes of all ages to adopt healthy life and to practice sports." As a result, the professional marathon swim will be sacrificed to focus amateur swimming competitions.

In a throwback to old times, the board of directors is considering its 2016 edition to include a traditional 42 km crossing from Newport, Vermont to Magog, Quebec which is "what many fans are demanding in recent years," said Cathy Bourgeois, president of the organizing committee.

"For many years, FINA held the European Championships at the same time as our competition, depriving us in many swimmers," explained Serge Laurendeau. "They had yet asked repeatedly to move this race so as not to harm us. In addition, you had to pay US$15,000 registration annually just to have the right to hold the 34 km."

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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