The End of an Era

The End of an Era

Looking back at the recent FINA announcement on the FINA Marathon Swim World Series, it was curious and quite telling that there was no mention of the FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series. Over the last decades, FINA has nearly always made an announcement about both the FINA Marathon Swim World Series – where the races are limited to 10 km circuit courses – and the longer races (up to 88 km) of the FINA UltraMarathon Swim Series.

But no subsequent announcement came from FINA.

The historic races like the 57 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Santa Fe – Coronda in Argentina, the 9 – 15 km Maratón Acuática Internacional Ciudad de Rosario in Argentina, the 32 km Traversee international du Lac St-Jean in Canada, the 25 km Ohrid Lake Swim Marathon in Macedonia, the 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy were left without a professional circuit.

It appears to be an end of an era – at least the FINA era – that began in 1991.

Professional marathon swimmers – several dozens who are Honor Swimmers in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame – had frequently competed in those races over the decades dating back to the late 1950s. Those races, some events still ongoing albeit on the amateur level, included the 15 km Maratón Cozumel in Mexico, the 25 km Villa Urquiza-Parana in Argentina, the 42 km Traversée Internationale du lac Memphrémagog in Canada, the 88 km Maratón Hernandarias-Paraná in Argentina, the 15 km Maratón Cancún in Mexico, the 15 km La Patagones Viedma in Argentina, the 15 km Sumidero Canyon in Mexico, the 19 km Šabac Swim Marathon and many other historic races from the 30 km Sydney Harbour International Invitational Marathon Sydney Harbour and 42 km Guaymas Marathon in Mexico to the famous Billy Butlin Cross Channel International Swims across the English Channel and the Salton Sea Marathon in California.

As a result, the Traversee international du Lac St-Jean Board of Directors made its decision to leave the FINA professional marathon world circuit. “In the light of recent months and years, the organizing committee has come to realize that FINA is no longer the right vehicle to promote open water swimming, given that it is no longer unable to adequately support the athletes and the organizing committees.

For example, FINA asked us to organize our two FINA competitions in September. This request was simply not realistic considering the climatic conditions in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean at this time of the year. Over the next few months, La Traversée will work with the other open water swimming marathons in South America and Europe so that a new organization can emerge. With the lifting of measures, which began in recent weeks, the organizers of La Traversée are confident of being able to present a complete edition next July. The Uniprix 1, 2, 5 and 10 km competitions (July 23rd), the traditional Loto-Québec street supper (July 27th), the Rio Tinto Emerging Talent Marathon (July 29th) and the 32 km Grand Traversée presented by Rio Tinto (July 30th ) will be part of the program, as will the shows on the Desjardins Stage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.”

As with every ending, there will be a new beginning. The vacuum will be filled and, if history is any guide, what emerges will be exciting for marathon swimmers, fans, volunteers and all stakeholders.

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Steven Munatones