Swimming New South Wales Water Temperature Rules

In December 2010, Swimming New South Wales (of Swimming Australia) established its water temperature policy for its sanctioned open water swimming events.

Swimming New South Wales’ Technical Open Water Swimming Committee, as part of its risk minimisation program, conducted an investigation into recommended maximum and minimum temperatures for safe swimming in the open water environment. Unfortunately there appears to be no recognised authority that has published such information.

A safe maximum water temperature is a risk that had not previously been considered, whereas, a minimum water temperature for the conduct of open water swimming events has been set by FINA and is currently 16º Celsius and for Masters 18º Celsius. 

  As a result the Technical Open Water Swimming Committee has taken some relevant information and has made recommendations to the Board for its consideration and action. The Board has considered the recommendations and has determined the following policy.

Policy

1. Purpose
The purpose of the OWS Staging of Events Water Temperature Policy is to discharge the duty of care that Swimming NSW has to its members and invited guests who participate in events staged and or approved by Swimming NSW, its Areas and Member Clubs and to any other sporting organisation or promoter that seeks the sanction of its OWS event from Swimming NSW or requests permission from Swimming NSW for the results of swimmers participating in an un‐sanctioned event to be used for qualifying purposes.

2. Audience
This Policy applies to all OWS events under the control of Swimming NSW and/or its Areas and member Clubs for the purpose of open water swim meets and/or events (event) that are authorised, hosted, run by, or for and on behalf of, Swimming NSW and/or its Areas and or its Member Clubs or such other entities that have applied for and received approval to run an open water swim meet by Swimming NSW and/or its Areas (event organisers).

3. Water Temperature Ranges
3.1 The minimum water temperature for the conduct of an open water swimming event irrespective of distance is 16º Celsius
   3.2 The maximum water temperature for the conduct of an open water swimming event irrespective of distance is 32º Celsius
3.3 The water temperature shall be taken in the manner specified within the OWS Rules prior to the start of the event.
3.4 Where the water temperature exceeds 29º Celsius and the ambient air temperature is 5º Celsius or more higher than the water temperature, the event, no matter the distance, will be postponed until the ambient air temperature has decreased by a minimum of 2º Celsius; and 3.5 In events of 10km and over, for each degree that the water temperature exceeds 29º Celsius and the ambient air temperature is 3º Celsius higher than the water temperature the event distance will be reduced by 2.5km. If the event distance is reduced by 50% or more then the event will be postponed and re‐swum at a time and place determined by the event organiser.

   For 5km events the event will be postponed until Condition 3.4 has been achieved.

3.6 Where the water temperature exceeds 29º Celsius:
● feeding stations are permitted even where the rules preclude them
● throughout the event the water temperature shall be carefully monitored by the Safety Officer in company with another independent person (who will witness the taking of the temperature and the recording of temperature readings) with such information being immediately relayed to the Chief Referee.
● Should the water temperature increase then the policy conditions referred to in conditions 3.2 and 3.4 shall be applied immediately by the Chief Referee.

3.7 Where the water temperature was less than 17º Celsius prior to the start of the event:
● throughout the event the water temperature shall be carefully monitored by the Safety Officer in company with another independent person (who will witness the taking of the temperature and the recording of temperature readings) with such information being immediately relayed to the Chief Referee.  
● Should the water temperature decrease then the policy conditions referred to in condition 3.1 shall be applied immediately by the Chief Referee and the event stopped.

4. Definition
Ambient air temperature means the temperature of the surroundings

5. Bibliography
FINA Open Water Swimming Rules;
Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water – Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council February 2008 (Section 4)
Neilsen, B. (1977). Physiology of thermoregulation during swimming. In B. Eriksson & B. Furberg (Eds.), Swimming Medicine IV ‐ Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress on Swimming Medicine. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

Related Articles

FINA Taking It To The Edge – Part 1 is here.

FINA Taking It To The Edge – Part 2 is here.

FINA Taking It To The Edge – Part 3 is here.

Why 31°C FINA? – Part 4 is here

USA Triathlon Fatality Incidents Study is here.

New South Wales Maximum Water Temperature Rules are here.

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association