The Race Goes On

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Complaints by Alex Meyer and other swimmers about the upcoming FINA 10K Marathon Swim held in the United Arab Emirates are getting media attention (see Yahoo article here).

But the complaints and planned non-participation by the American elite swimmers apparently have little influence over the rest of the global open water swimming community. Governing bodies around the world plan to attend and support the event organized by race director Ayman Saad.

In a year where the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim finalists are being selected in Kazan, Russia, national governing bodies have judged it is vitally important for their athletes to compete as much as possible against top competition. Despite the symbolism of enabling Saad to organize a race in a part of the world where he previously organized the only FINA competition in history where an athlete died, the importance of head-to-head competition is key.

Few governing bodies, administrators or coaches outside USA Swimming want to upset FINA by so blatantly boycotting a FINA-sanctioned race.

Since the death of Fran Crippen in the 2010 race organized by Saad, only Dutch coach Marcel Wouda publicly complained about open water conditions and pulled his athlete from a FINA event (world champion Linsy Heister at the 2011 FINA World Swimming Championships in Shanghai). It takes a lot of confidence – based on strongly held principles – to make such a public statement and maintain a stance against FINA.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones