FINA Cancels Second Open Water Competition of Season For Poor Water Quality

FINA has decided to cancel the Sumidero Canyon stop of the Open Water Swimming  Grand Prix, they announced in a press-release today.

Please be informed that the FINA Executives have decided to cancel the Sumidero Canyon Event part of the FINA OWS GP Series scheduled to be held on the 7 May 2011.

This decision has been reached following the recommendation of the FINA Sports Medicine Committee on the Water Quality in order to ensure the Health and Safety of the FINA Open Water Swimmers.

The release isn’t specific as to in what way they thought that the Sumidero Canyon stop (which is located in Mexico, just south of the Yucitan Peninsula) would be unsafe for competitors. The meet was already moved once from April 23rd to May 7th. Climate is likely the issue, as water temps in the canyon in late April and early May are usually around 28 or 29 degrees Celcius, which clear (barely) the FINA safety committees temperature recommendations. With average high AIR temperatures that can be as high as 35 degrees C (95 F), they perhaps chose to err on the side of caution, which is I think what most would prefer for them to do (though, the other side of the spectrum is average lows around 70 degrees, showing that it definitely cools off at night).

Edit: After posting, FINA announced that it was officially the quality of the water that canceled the race:

According to the Rules and Regulations for the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix, the FINA Executive has decided to cancel the Event to take place in Sumidero Canyon (MEX) on May 7, 2011.

This decision has been reached following the recommendation of the FINA Sports Medicine Committee, stating: “Given the importance of the health and safety of the open water swimming athletes, and in light of the official documentation on water quality provided by the Mexican Swimming Federation, it is evident that FINA should not expose its swimmers to these unsafe water conditions.”

It’s possible that race officials felt, due to the unique setting in a canyon rather than a bay or rowing marina, that it was too difficult to monitor the competitors because of obstructed sight lines for safety personnel.

At any rate, the race has been canceled, showing that FINA is taking the recommendations of their Open Water Task Force seriously. It really is a shame, as the setting in spectacularly deep canyons inside of a National Park made this one of the more unique and interesting open water swims, but hopefully FINA can add it back to the schedule next year in a cooler part of the season. The race was slotted for 15 km.

This is the second open water swim FINA has canceled for the year, though the prior was done much more under the radar. The final UAE stop of the Open Water World Cup (which was  listed as “to be confirmed”) was removed from the original schedule, and replaced with a stop near Montreal earlier in the year. Hong Kong will now serve as the final of that series.

The UAE were the hosts of the race last year where Fran Crippen passed away, and the FINA Open Water Safety Report outlined several blunders of the federation that forced last-minute adjustments to the schedule.

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10 years ago

Might not be just the water temperature. I was there about 5 years ago and the scenery is pretty spectacular but it was also very polluted. hopefully it has been cleaned up but swimming in water with raw sewage is never a good idea.In all fairness though its probably no worse then the NYC harbor.

Maybe once open water swims start getting canceled or moved it will put some pressure on the hosts to get their act together and its not just all talk and no action.

10 years ago

I do agree with the canceling of the open water swims if they are unsafe. However, it is a little disappointing that FINA is just canceling the races and not reloacting or rescheduling them.

I read the article by Chloe Sutton and completely agree with her; that if FINA is planning to make open water swimming safer by only swimming in ideal water temperature and in glassy water conditions the sport could lose its allure. Rather just have more eyes perhaps of volunteers on the swimmers. I’m not certain of how many swimmers swim in each swim but that seems like a possible option.

Des Cairns
10 years ago

I agree with Chloe as well. A friend of mine swam some of the open water grand prix events in europe last year and he said that he was surprised at how often fina guidlines were stretched. For example; he was telling me how the guidelines stated that the organisers had to provide at least one support staff for each athlete that didn’t bring their own, however for one of the races the support staff turned out to be volunteer uni students who knew nothing about swimming. Also, i haven’t read the whole inquiry into Crippen’s tragic death but i did read somewhere that it found that the lifeguard stations were lacking basic equipment such as binoculars. At the world… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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