The addition of Abu Dhabi to FINA’s 2015 10K Open Water World Cup schedule has drawn a lot of attention in the past few months. Five years ago in 2010, Fran Crippen tragically died during an open water race in Abu Dahbi. There has a been a lot of criticism surrounding the selection of Abu Dhabi for a world cup stop this year.
Until recently, there was a “tbc” next to the March 13th Abu Dhabi World Cup stop on FINA’s official website. This morning we discovered that the “tbc” is no longer there, and the prize money for the event has been tripled from $20,000 to $60,000.
When it was originally announced that Abu Dhabi could be hosting an open water 10k world cup event, many US Open water athletes had serious objections to the decision. In response to FINA’s decision, organizers of the 2nd Annual Fran Crippen 10k International Cup Race rescheduled their event in Miromar Lakes, FL for the same date.
Don Henshaw of the Gulf Coast Swim Team, the meet’s host, says that this year’s race is “trying to go head to head with the UAE and support the USA Swimming boycott of the event and location where Fran Crippen tragically died.”
Henshaw is referring to a wide-spread American athletes’ intent to boycott this year’s race in the UAE, and USA Swimming saying publicly that while it won’t prevent its athletes from attending the race, that it won’t provide the support for them to go either. USA Swimming is avoiding the term “boycott” on an organization-level, saying that they have no planned effort to block American athletes from going, but that they are just not providing funding or support services for the event.
As of February 6th, meet organizers of the 2nd Annual Fran Crippen 10k International Cup Race had raised $22,000 in prize money, which was $2,000 more than they were awarding at the Abu Dhabi World Cup event.
Now that FINA has tripled the prize money, the Fran Cippen 10K Race no longer has financial leverage over FINA’s World Cup event. This prize money increase is very controversial, however, as the Abu Dhabi World Cup stop is the only event with increased prize money. All ten of the other World Cup stops are still awarding $20,000 in prize money.
We reached out to FINA to ask if the increase in prize money for the Abu Dhabi World Cup race is in any way a direct response to organizers in the US of the Fran Crippen Cup, who said that their goal was to raise more prize money than the UAE Open Water Cup. We have not received a response from FINA.
The Abu Dhabi World Cup prize money is equal for both the men and the women, and in US dollars. Swimmers that finish 1st through 16th will all be awarded cash prizes.
For every other World Cup stop, prize money is only awarded to the top 8 finishers.