Is FINA Open Water Swimming Rule Fair Or Not?

Courtesy of Léandre Lapointe, lac St-Jean, Quebec, Canada.

Léandre Lapointe coached third-place swimmer Alice Franco at this year’s 32 km Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Quebec, Canada.

It was the first time a major FINA aquatic event was conducted entirely in neoprene wetsuits – minus one exception, Dania Belisle of Canada.

After 62 editions of the renowned professional marathon swim, FINA’s new rules dictated that if the water dropped below 20°C, then the athletes have the option to wear a wetsuit or not. If the water dropped below 18°C, then the athletes had to wear wetsuits.

All the athletes – with the exception of Belisle – selected to wear a wetsuit when the three FINA water thermometers registered 18°C.

From the traditional perspective of open water swimmers, there were really two races within the Traversée: a wetsuit race (with most of the athletes) and a non-wetsuit race (with Belisle as its lone competitor). This was especially important because Belisle had one hour to complete the race within the finish time of the winner Martina Grimaldi of Italy who donned a wetsuit.

From the perspective of FINA, Belisle had the option to compete as all her competitors did – with a wetsuit – but she freely chose not to do so. So the rules were fair, at least from the organizer’s view.

2017 Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean Results:
1. Martina Grimaldi (Italy) 6:45:59.5
2. Barbara Pozzobon (Italy) 6:49:47.5
3. Alice Franco (Italy) 6:59:14.6
4. Jade Dusablon (Canada) 7:04:48.4
5. Pilar Geijo (Argentina) 7:04:48.4
6. Anna Mankevich (Russia) 7:07:54.8
7. Sabryna Lavoie (Canada) 7:18:32.3
8. Marie-Laurence Lortie (Canada) 7:45:38.7
9. Vicenia Navarro (Venezuela) 7:52:19.7
10. Gwenaëlle Plonquet-Thibeault (Canada) 8:10:31.0
OTL Rita Vanesa Garcia (Argentina)
OTL Dania Belisle (Canada)

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Steven Munatones