A Voice for the Sport: Open Water Safety

PHOENIX, Arizona, March 3. IN the March issue of Swimming World Magazine, CEO Brent Rutemiller looks at some questions regarding Open Water Safety in this month's edition of A Voice for the Sport. The column is reprinted below:

As an update on the ongoing concerns to improve safety and racing conditions for open water swimmers, USA Swimming has taken the lead to help athletes become better informed when choosing to compete in an open water event.

According to USA Swimming's website, "It is common for USA Swimming member athletes to participate in open water competitions around the world on their own and not as a part of a USA Swimming team. This is their right under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. USA Swimming has no control over where an open water swimmer chooses to compete on his/her own or, unless sanctioned by USA Swimming, the conditions of the competition."

The information provided to athletes on USASwimming.org is meant to arm athletes with important questions to ask event hosts and officials before choosing to attend an open water event.

Questions such as the following suggested from USA Swimming will help athletes hold organizers more accountable:

• Who is the race committee chair, the chief referee, safety officer, clerk of the course, recorder and medical officer?
• What are the anticipated conditions, including air/water temperatures, tides, currents and potential hazardous marine life?
• What is the contact information and location for local emergency, local hospital and local pharmacy?
• What medical personnel will be on-site and at the venue, and what law enforcement agency will have control over the venue?
• What is the lifeguard/first-responder plan?
• What are the exact dates, times and locations for the race, technical meeting and pre-race briefing?
• Will water quality tests be conducted within 24 hours prior to the race, and will those results be distributed to the participants?
• Will there be a copy available of the written emergency plan, from incident to medical care?
• Will there be a satellite image of the venue showing the proposed course (with dimensions), buoys, safety craft, feeding station(s), expected currents, potential hazards, on-shore landmarks and an emergency way out?
• Is there a detailed map of the start, finish, turns and position of safety craft?
• What are the withdrawal procedures, and what penalties, if any, will apply to those who withdraw?

For the athletes who attend an event without a coach, this is an important first step in holding event hosts and officials accountable for the safety of athletes at open water events. In many ways, this is the accountability that Fran Crippen called for—as a champion for athlete open water safety—prior to his tragic death during a flawed open water event last year.

Crippen died in a World Cup race with no U.S. coach present. USA Swimming spokesperson Jamie Olsen recently told USA Today that this will change as a result. "The organization plans to identify events that would be ‘beneficial to the swimmers' training,' and send support staff to those races. That will include all World Cup races," Olsen said.

The next step to ensure a safer open water competition environment will be from those who sanction open water events, such as USA Swimming and FINA. Both USA Swimming and FINA have commissioned open water swimming task forces that will propose new open water safety rules and guidelines that must be met prior to being sanctioned.

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March 2011 Issue
Contents of The March issue:

7 CAL POISED TO SPOIL TEXAS' BID TO REPEAT by John Lohn
Even though history has shown that it's wise to expect the unexpected at the men's NCAA Division I Championships, Swimming World is forecasting a victory for Cal, with its individual power and depth and relay strength too much for the opposition.
11 GEORGIA LEADS A COMPETITIVE FIELD
by Jason Marsteller
Georgia was picked No. 1 a year ago, but finished a disappointing fifth. This year, expect the Bulldogs to turn things around.
15 COLLEGE PREVIEWS: NCAA Division II and III,
NAIA, NJCAA by Jason Marsteller and Reed Shimberg
18 A NEW YEAR by Emily Sampl
A new year brings a new direction, a new home and a new national team for United States Synchronized Swimming.

DEPARTMENTS:
6 A VOICE for the SPORT
39 CAMP DIRECTORY
50 FOR THE RECORD
53 CALENDAR
54 PARTING SHOT

In the Swimming Technique portion of the magazine you will find the following:

25 Q&A WITH COACH TERI McKEEVER, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
by Michael J. Stott
In 2009, Coach Teri McKeever's Cal Bears captured the NCAA Women's NCAA Division I championship. In doing so, she was named NCAA Coach of the Year. In 2010, after serving innumerable international coaching stints, she became the first female to be named head coach of a USA Olympic swimming team.
27 HOW THEY TRAIN: Liv Jensen by Michael J. Stott
28 BURNOUT: Reversing the Trend by Michael J. Stott
Burnout is prevalent in every endeavor, but few sports claim it like swimming. Parents discuss it all the time, and coaches know it can derail promising careers at any time.

In the SWIM portion of the magazine you will find the following:

21 POOL'S EDGE: Cooking Up A Great Workout by Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen
What is the secret recipe to creating interesting and inspiring workouts? If you start with quality ingredients, you will be well on your way to cooking up a great one.
22 THE WORKOUT CARD: Training with Lobo Aquatics, N.M. by Bobby Goldie

In the Junior Swimmer portion of the magazine you will find the following:
33 AMERICAN RELAY by Judy Jacob
34 TYR AGE GROUP SWIMMER OF THE MONTH: Maxime Rooney, Pleasanton Seahawks Swim Team (California)
35 GOLDMINDS: Swim Up to Swim Down by Wayne Goldsmith
Here are some new ideas on swim-downs to enhance your swim meet success.

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