Should vs. Must In The Open Water Swimming World

Should vs. Must In The Open Water Swimming World

FINA rule OWS 5.5 that states the water temperature should be a minimum of 16°C (60.8°F).

It goes further and states that the water temperature 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 rule has been heatedly discussed among athletes.

The confirmation of the water temperature is performed in the presence of a Commission made up of a Referee, a member of the Organizing Committee and one coach from the teams present who i designated during the pre-race Technical Meeting.

Contrary to some athletes’ interpretation (and wishes), this ruling does not mean that the water temperature MUST be a minimum of 16°C (60.8°F). That is, this rule does not mean that a competition will be delayed or cancelled when the water temperature drops below 16°C (60.8°F).

Years ago when this rule was first implemented, the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee carefully discussed the word SHOULD vs. MUST. The Committee agreed at that time that the word SHOULD is appropriate because they did not want to use the word MUST, specifically for situations where the weather is out of the host’s control.

If the word MUST is used, a competition would have to be cancelled the water temperature drops below 16°C (60.8°F). If the word SHOULD remains inplace, a competition could be held even if the the water temperature drops below 16°C (60.8°F).

As they say in the entertainment world, the show must go on.

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