Today, FINA released a revised Open Water season schedule for 2011 that includes pushing back both the Swimming World Cup and Swimming Grand Prix Series’ schedules.
In the prelude to the posting of the schedule, the release states with transparency their intent to have made significant conclusions in their investigation prior to the April 17 beginning of next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
FINA has re-scheduled its 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup in 2011, which will have its first race in April (in Santos, BRA), in order to provide the necessary time for the FINA Task Force in charge of investigating the causes and circumstances of the tragic loss of open water swimmer Fran Crippen (USA), on October 23, 2010, at the last leg of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup in Fujairah (UAE), to finalise its work and for the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee and the FINA Bureau to consider the respective findings.
Many around the swimming community have complained about FINA’s seeming lack of haste in progressing through their search for answers, and this is the first public indication that the start is imminent.
Although they postponed the schedule of the World Cup events, which is the series where Crippen died, they still plan to begin the Grand Prix Series in about 6 weeks in Argentina. This is particularly alarming, because the Grand Prix Series races are notably longer than the World Cup races. This includes the second and fourth events, both held in Argentina, that are 57km (35 mi) and 88km (54 mi) ultra-endurance events.
The updated World Cup race schedule is posted below, with the average surface water temperatures for that time of year listed in parenthesis. It is widely believed that the temperature of the water, which ranged from the mid-to-high 80’s, played at least a partial role in Crippen’s death. The averages are compiled from various sources, and temperature extremes tend to vary 3-4 degrees in either direction from the average. All World Cup races are 10k’s.
|1.||Santos (BRA)||April 17 (79 F)|
|2.||Cancun (MEX)||April 30 (81 F)|
|3.||Setubal (POR)||June 18 (66 F)|
|4.||Lac St. Jean (CAN)||July 24 (65 F)|
|5.||Shantou (CHN)||September 25 (69 F)|
|6.||Hong Kong (HKG)||October 2 (82 F)|
|7.||UAE (city tbc)||tbc|
There are still a few scary numbers on the list, notably Cancun in April and Hong Kong in October. These average water temperatures are not far off of the average temperatures for the now-infamous race in the UAE, and an unusually warm year could spell more trouble. Keep in mind that, on the surface, Crippen’s struggle with the heat was not an isolated incident, as at least three other swimmers were hospitalized from heat exhaustion.
For reference, here is the Grand Prix schedule with race distances.
|Rosario (ARG, 15km)||January 23|
|Santa Fe-Coronda (ARG, 57km)||January 30|
|Viedma (ARG, 12km)||February 5|
|Hernandarias-Parana (ARG, 88km)||February 13|
|Sumidero Canyon (MEX, 15km)||April 23|
|Capri-Napoli (ITA, 36km)||June 19|
|Lac St-Jean (CAN, 32km)||July 30|
|Lac Magog (CAN, 34km)||August 6|
|Sabac (SRB, 19km)||August 7|
|Ohrid Lake (MKD, 30km)||August 14|
|UAE (city tbc)||tbc|
Notice that FINA has left UAE’s hosting city and date open at the end of both schedules. This is perhaps to give themselves flexibility that might be necessary as a result of their findings. At any rate, it will certainly be an interesting season, and will be under one hundred times the scrutiny of any other Open Water season in history.