Wetsuits To Be Worn In Olympic Marathon, Says FINA, As Draft Rules Rushed Through

FINA, the international federation that promoted in its ranks the man in charge of organisation on the day Fran Crippen died in a world cup race off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in 2010, will this month consider draft rules on the wearing of wet suits in the Olympic marathon at the Rio 2016 Games

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Everyone in the triathlon world knows that wetsuits are as much about having a flotation device that helps prop up weaker swimmers with poor stroke technique as they are about warmth/safety.

I’m guessing this one was driven by a desire to suck up to second tier countries in open water disciplines whose athletes don’t want to have to train as hard in order to get a good finish at the elite level.


“to be worn” or “to be considered”?

Craig Lord

The answer is in the words of the director, Pegasus, if they are to be taken as written. If the water temp is below 18 (v likely), they ‘will be’ is where we’re at… no escaping the instruction in the words of a man who instructs before discussion and an agreement on rules among experts. And those words come without any explanation beyond ‘we’ as to who decides this and when it will be decided. If a temperature triggers the equipment to be worn, it could be a last-minite decision, for example. Deciding a fundamental change in the nature of the sport in Olympic year? Far from ideal. This research should have been considered when Fran died and even better before he died by people who take the health and lives of young people seriously because they want to and understand the obligation to do so, not because they go through the world reacting to events 25 years after taking over open water swimming.


“FINA’s leadership will meet in Budapest on January 30

to consider

the new ‘wetsuit’ rules given that water temperatures off the coast of Rio during the Olympic Games are likely to be lower than 18C.”

The expected decision is that new rules will be approved. For now there is still a possibility– even if remote– that further discussion and input could delay implementation to post-Rio.

It’s too close to the Games for a change of this magnitude, perhaps others will see this, too.

Craig Lord

Yes, Pegasus. I guess there will a difficult decision to make if waters are, say 15C and research says they ought to be wearing wetsuits for health and safety reasons but can’t because there is no provision in the rules to allow it. Then FINA would be in another mess. If they need to have this done for some reason, they need to talk to their experts and key stakeholders asap, not simply huddle in Budapest and agree, once more, in camera, to something no more than a few men even knew about. Questions abound, like – at the time of commissioning this report, where was the forward-thinking?; were experts informed so they could start to think about ‘what if the research finds X’ as it may well do… what is our take on that and what do we intend to do about it? Once again, we are left with a feeling of the amateur and the shoddy shaking hands for a bad outcome.

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