FINA Makes Decision on 2011 Open Water Event in Shanghai

FINA has made their decision on the final location for the open water event at this summer’s FINA World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai. They will host the races at the Jinshan City Beach, which is a man-made beach enclosure that is a bit of an oddity off the coast of the Urban Metropolis.

This seems to be an ideal location, because it is both sheltered from the sea, and also has natural sea water constantly pumped into it through a dam (which in theory helps keep it cool and clean). The site was chosen over a nearby rowing basin.

Here’s the question that everyone’s been waiting for: What will the temperatures be like? FINA provided the following data from the Jinshan Meteorological Station. As you can see, 2009 and 2010 were  quite warm, but the worst case temperature is 33 C (91 F).

Average Air Temperature

Date 2008 2009 2010
July 19 28.5 31.3 31.3
July 20 27.4 33.4 33.4
July 21 29.1 33.0 33.0
July 22 29.4 25.8 25.8
July 23 30.6 28.9 28.9

Even more importantly, they posted the water temperatures from the last 3 years. Their records show that the temperature tends to hover right around 28-29 C (83 F), and slightly cooler in the morning. While these temperatures are not ideal, they seem to fall well within most definitions of a safe range. The afternoon water temps creep above what FINA recommends them at, but never passed USA Swimming’s benchmark of 31 C. Furthermore, when water temperatures and air temperatures are combined (as USA Swimming has said they should be), it seems to have always fallen below that 63 C barrier.

Date 2008 2009 2010
8:00 a.m. 14:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. 14:00 p.m. 8:00 a.m. 14:00 p.m.
July 19 28.8 29.0 28.9 30.3 27.2 27.9
July 20 28.3 28.9 29.3 30.0 27.3 28.0
July 21 28.8 29.6 29.5 29.8 27.5 28.5
July 22 28.8 29.3 29.5 29.1 27.7 28.5
July 23 29.1 29.5 29.2 29.5 27.9 28.3

Basically, the only debate on whether to hold the open water race as planned in Shanghai, or whether to alter the schedule, seems to come down at this point to whether or not you believe the USA Swimming (and later FINA) thresholds are safe enough. If you don’t believe them, then there’s probably no amount of data that will ever convince you that things will be ok, and you probably think that the above numbers are made-up anyways. If you do believe in them, then all signs seem to point to a safe race.

Let’s make it clear: As much as FINA (and to a much lesser extent, USA Swimming), do not want to take any direct blame for Fran Crippen’s death, they sure as heck don’t want it to happen again. I don’t think that even the most cynical observer could argue that point. So I have no reason to believe that the above numbers are not accurate and complete representations of the conditions that can be expected in Shanghai.

The schedules for the race (which will be early-morning, to avoid peak temperatures) will be as follows:

Tuesday, July 19 – 09:00, 10km Women
Wednesday, July 20 – 09:00, 10km Men
Thursday, July 21 – 09:00, 5km Team Event
Friday, July 22 – 08:00, 5km Women; 10:00, 5km Men
Saturday, July 23 – 08:00, 25km Men; 08:15, 25km Women

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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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