Too Hot For Comfort.  What Are The Guidelines?

Too Hot For Comfort. What Are The Guidelines?

An inquiry was received asking about the maximum water temperature allowable for a safe open water swimming competition. Good question.

The Daily News of Ope Water Swimming could not find any specific recommendations or general guidelines for a maximum allowable temperature for open water swimming competitions.

Comfort is one thing, but safety is entirely different. A reasonable answer or guideline varies with the age, health, fitness and body composition of the athletes in question as well as the ambient air temperature, weather conditions, latitude and the time of year. Our guess for a maximum allowable water temperature for well-conditioned young (i.e., under 30 years old) fit competitive athletes would be 28°C (82.4°F).

While competing in 30°C (86°F) waters may be possible, it would certainly not be comfortable or conducive to a good competition as the water temperature would adversely affect the strategy and performance of young athletes. The risk of heat stroke or heat exhaustion would obviously increase depending on the age, health, fitness and body composition of the athletes in question.

Reader’s opinions are greatly welcomed, especially those based on scientific evidence and medical information.

So what are the maximum ocean temperatures?

The maximum ocean water temperatures is found near the equator under bright sunny skies and humid conditions in summer when the water was shallow and still (e.g., within a coral reef). Regions that get water temperatures above 40°C (104°F) include the Indonesian archipelago and the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea. Locations such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea (e.g., north of Jamaica) show ocean temperature hovering around 30°C (86°F) at one meter below the surface of the water.

What are the average worldwide ocean temperatures?

In 2009, the world’s ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. The 20th century average of ocean temperatures was 62.6°F (17°C) which is slightly warmer than the average global land surface temperature of 55.9°F (13.3°C).

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