The United States’ 2 open water entries for the inaugural ANOC World Beach Games, which are to be held from October 12th-16th in Doha, Qatar, have withdrawn. Ashley Twichell and Haley Anderson, who are also qualified to represent the US in open water at next summer’s Olympic Games, were announced less than 2 weeks ago as part of a 69-athlete American roster for the new multi-sport event.
In a statement, USA Swimming said that the withdraw was the result of safety concerns after reviewing water temperature data.
“Based on water temperature data and USA Swimming’s recommendations concerning athlete health and safety, National Team athletes Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell have made the decision not to attend the ANOC World Beach Games Qatar 2019.”
The swimming events are scheduled to take place in the Persian Gulf, which is the same body of water (and at approximately the same latitude) where American open water swimmer Fran Crippen died during a race in 2010.
Over 1,400 athletes are expected to compete in 14 sports and 16 disciplines at the first edition of the Beach Games in 2019. At least 97 countries are currently committed to compete. The event was originally scheduled in San Diego, but in May, after the city failed to generate enough private funds, the event was moved to Qatar.
The open water races, which will both be 5km swims hosted at Katara Beach, will be held at 6AM on Sunday, October 13th. No American men are scheduled to compete either, and no start lists have been released yet. Surface sea temperatures in Doha given by seatemperature.org had today’s maximum water temperature at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (similar to the air temperature), which is among the warmest recorded temperatures recorded for this time of year. FINA rules mandate that water must be between 16 and 31 degrees Celsius, or 60.8 and 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Average water temperatures for this time of year in Doha are around 86 degrees Fahrenheit, just within the upper edge of that limit.