AP: FINA preparing to set open water temp limit

Honestly, I just shake my head. Think about. If you’re just recreational swimming to beat the heat, would you want to swim in water that was nearly 88 degrees? Now think about the high-intensity training and elite-level athletes who are exerting themselves in that water?

Anybody know what the water temperature is for the pool? Is it the same? Cooler? Hotter? What gives FINA?

Here’s the story from Andrew Dampf of the Associated Press:

ROME  — Swimming’s governing body is preparing to set a fixed maximum water temperature that doesn’t meet U.S. standards that were introduced after the death of American swimmer Fran Crippen.

At meetings in Barcelona this week, FINA is about to set an upper limit of 87.8 degrees for open water events.

USA Swimming set a domestic limit of 85 degrees in the wake of Crippen’s death during a sweltering 10-kilometer race in the United Arab Emirates in October, 2010.

“The safety of our athletes is extremely important to USA Swimming. When it comes to international open water competition, we would advise our athletes not to compete if the water temperature is above 29.45 degrees (Celsius) ,” USA Swimming said in a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“If the athlete does decide to swim, USA Swimming will ask them to sign a waiver and release,” the statement continued. “That being said, our on-site staff will carry out their normal roles as long as U.S. athletes are competing regardless of conditions.”

Previously, FINA had only a suggested limit of 86 degrees.

FINA’s technical open water swimming committee recommended the new limit Tuesday following a study by the University of Otago in New Zealand, in collaboration with the IOC and the International Triathlon Union.

“They told us 31 and that’s what we decided on,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told The AP by phone. “It’s not a matter of being happy or not happy. It was a scientific study and that’s what we are following.”

The limit is expected to be approved Wednesday in a vote by a FINA congress that is open to two delegates from each of the 203 recognized national swimming federations.

FINA’s minimum temperature of 60.8 degrees remains in place.

The world championships open in Barcelona on Saturday with the men’s and women’s 5-kilometer open water events in the city’s harbor, just like at the 2003 worlds in Barcelona.

“They have already tested the quality of the water and it is fantastic in the harbor,” Marculescu said.

More events such as the 10K, 25K and team event will follow.

Hot water was also an issue at the last worlds in Shanghai two years ago, when the 25K race continued even though the water temperature climbed above the supposed safe point. Ten of the 29 men who started the race dropped out, including defending champion Valerio Cleri of Italy, as did four of the 21 female starters.