Here We Go Again – FINA Disregards High Temperature Rule In Open Water

Open Water

Commentary by Brent Rutemiller. 

The swimming community should never forget the tragic death of USA Open Water swimmer Fran Crippen, who died in 2010 during an Open Water competition due to excessively warm water temperatures.

A FINA task force was established. Changes were made and new temperature rules were put into place.  Crippen’s tragic death alerted the swimming community that changes needed to be made regarding safety regulations for open water races. Following his death, FINA implemented rule OWS 5.5 stating that the water temperature cannot be below 16 degrees Celsius (60.8 F) and cannot be above 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 F).

But FINA continues to hold competitions that violate temperature rules in ways that are dumbfounding and irresponsible.  Steve Munatones, a well-known voice in the sport of open water, wrote extensively about recent infractions in his latest article on

Swimming World encourages those who are concerned about the governance of aquatics sports to read the article.   Munatones points the finger at officials and specifically calls out a decision by Ronnie Wong for allowing the recent 2017 Asian Open Water Swimming Championships 10K race to be held in unsafe conditions.  Shockingly, Wong served as chairman of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee during the establishment of FINA OWS 5.5.

The temperatures at race time warmed to a hot 31.9 degrees Celsius (89.42 F) before the start of the 10K race.

Team Japan complained about the ruling to continue with the race.  Taking safety precautions, Japan pulled its entire team from the event, placing the lives of their athletes ahead of the medals at stake.

Does another life have to be taken before FINA and Officials take responsibility and understand that the safety of athletes must always come first and that the world is closely watching how they govern the sport?

More About Fran Crippen – From The Morning Swim Show Vault

Crippen’s June 17, 2009 interview

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


  1. avatar
    John Dussliere

    As a general rule: Don’t trust any single thermometer used to determine water temperature when it is determining whether or not a race will happen and the temp is reported to fall just right for the race to happen. This includes high and low temperature waters. An independent (not linked to the race) monitor should be the deciding authority in such situations. Sorry race organizers, until trust is restored the results of the sins of the past are too fresh.

  2. Mercedes Figueroa

    Mayte Cano entre 16 y 30 Grados centígrados para Aguas Abiertas ?

  3. Maurice Gingras

    Breanne Swicki. Weren’t we just talking about how unpredictable FINA is?

  4. Marisela Villa

    mis respetos para todos los nadadores de aguas abiertas.

  5. Nancy Kate Schreiber

    Never, ever forget what happened to our Fran Crippen who championed rules and temperatures for all OW swimmers and lost his life. Don’t forget FINA, our swimmers lives depend on your most perceptive rulings.

  6. avatar

    Shame. Shame. Shame. Have no lessons been learned from Fran Crippen’s tragic death? Please tell me that a human life is more important than a FINA jacket. Mr Ronnie Wong currently still serves as chairman of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee (TOWSC).

  7. Daniel Lopez

    Sandra Galvan y Bacalar apáá?…. a cómo está?…

  8. avatar
    Michael Maloney

    SPORTS are DANGEROUS……Lets stop PLAYING in the RAIN…..OR when IT’S COLD….oh It’s to HOT…..oh the BIKING hill is too steep… matter what RULES you APPLY..People are going to get HURT/
    killed in sports….from the dawn of time til when….tomorrow…..just saying

  9. Swimax William Reynaga

    Las próximas elecciones en la FINA, pueden darnos las respuestas…es una esperanza

  10. Alison Hayden

    I did a non FINA race last year where the temp was 90…not calling anyone out, but I sure got dizzy at the end.