How Cold Can It Go?  FINA Races In Cold Water

How Cold Can It Go? FINA Races In Cold Water

What is the water temperature?” is one of the most common questions asked before an open water competition.

The venues for FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup events, FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix events, FINA World Swimming Championship races and relays, and FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championship events are dictated by specific rules.

These rules are posted in the FINA Handbook:

OWS 5.1 World Championships and FINA competitions shall be for Open Water distances, 25 kilometres, 10 kilometres and 5 kilometres, conducted at a venue and course approved by FINA.

OWS 5.2 The course shall be in water that is subject to only minor currents or tide and may be salt or fresh water.

OWS 5.3 A certificate of suitability for use of the venue shall be issued by the appropriate local health and safety authorities. In general terms the certification must relate to water purity and to physical safety from other considerations.

OWS 5.4 The minimum depth of water at any point on the course shall be 1.40 meter.

OWS 5.5 The water temperature should be a minimum of 16°C. It should be checked the day of the race, 2 hours before the start, in the middle of the course at a depth of 40 cm. This control should be done in the presence of a Commission made up of the following persons present: a Referee, a member of the Organising Committee and one coach from the teams present designated during the Technical Meeting.

In rule OWS 5.5, the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee discussed the word “should” at length. It was agreed by the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and further supported by the FINA Bureau that the word “must” was not appropriate. The difference between “should” and “must” in this rule is significant. The reason why “should” was selected is because there are situations where the weather and water temperatures are out of the host organizer’s control. Simply put, there is no absolute minimum water temperature at FINA-sanctioned races which enables the acceptable water temperatures to be lower than 16°C in FINA competitions.

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