609 in 2015 and later

648 past in 2015 (updated 17-07-'15)

Open Water Swimming Staging of Event Water Temperature Policy

Open Water Swimming Staging of Event Water Temperature Policy from Swimming New South Wales’ Technical Open Water Swimming Committee

OWS STAGING OF EVENTS WATER TEMPERATURE POLICY
Adopted by Board of Directors 13 December 2010

Introduction:
Swimming New South Wales’ Technical Open Water Swimming Committee (TOWS C), as part of its risk
minimisation program, conducted an investigation into recommended maximum and minimum temperatures
for safe swimming in the open water environment. Unfortunately there appears to be no recognised authority
that has published such information.
A safe maximum water temperature is a risk that had not previously been considered, whereas, a minimum
water temperature for the conduct of open water swimming events has been set by FINA and is currently 16º
Celsius and for Masters 18º Celsius.
As a result the TOWS C has taken some relevant information and has made recommendations to the Board for
its consideration and action. The Board has considered the recommendations and has determined the
following policy.

Policy:
1. Purpose
The purpose of the OWS Staging of Events Water Temperature Policy is to discharge the duty of care
that Swimming NSW has to its members and invited guests who participate in events staged and or
approved by Swimming NSW, its Areas and Member Clubs and to any other sporting organisation or
promoter that seeks the sanction of its OWS event from Swimming NSW or requests permission from
Swimming NSW for the results of swimmers participating in an un‐sanctioned event to be used for
qualifying purposes.
2. Audience
This Policy applies to all OWS events under the control of Swimming NSW and/or its Areas and
member Clubs for the purpose of open water swim meets and/or events (event) that are authorised,
hosted, run by, or for and on behalf of, Swimming NSW and/or its Areas and or its Member Clubs or
such other entities that have applied for and received approval to run an open water swim meet by
Swimming NSW and/or its Areas (event organisers).
3. Water Temperature Ranges
3.1 The minimum water temperature for the conduct of an open water swimming event
irrespective of distance is 16º Celsius
3.2 The maximum water temperature for the conduct of an open water swimming event
irrespective of distance is 32º Celsius
3.3 The water temperature shall be taken in the manner specified within the OWS Rules prior
to the start of the event.
3.4 Where the water temperature exceeds 29º Celsius and the ambient air temperature is 5º
Celsius or more higher than the water temperature, the event, no matter the distance,
will be postponed until the ambient air temperature has decreased by a minimum of 2º
Celsius; and
3.5 In events of 10km and over, for each degree that the water temperature exceeds 29º
Celsius and the ambient air temperature is 3º Celsius higher than the water temperature
the event distance will be reduced by 2.5km. If the event distance is reduced by 50% or
more then the event will be postponed and re‐swum at a time and place determined by
the event organiser.
For 5km events the event will be postponed until Condition 3.4 has been achieved.
3.6 Where the water temperature exceeds 29º Celsius:
● feeding stations are permitted even where the rules preclude them
● throughout the event the water temperature shall be carefully monitored by
the Safety Officer in company with another independent person (who will
witness the taking of the temperature and the recording of temperature
readings) with such information being immediately relayed to the Chief
Referee.
● Should the water temperature increase then the policy conditions referred to
in conditions 3.2 and 3.4 shall be applied immediately by the Chief Referee.
3.7 Where the water temperature was less than 17º Celsius prior to the start of the event:
● throughout the event the water temperature shall be carefully monitored by
the Safety Officer in company with another independent person (who will
witness the taking of the temperature and the recording of temperature
readings) with such information being immediately relayed to the Chief
Referee.
● Should the water temperature decrease then the policy conditions referred to
in condition 3.1 shall be applied immediately by the Chief Referee and the
event stopped.
4. Definitions:
“ambient air temperature” means the temperature of the surroundings
5. Bibliography
FINA Open Water Swimming Rules;
Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water – Australian Government, National Health and
Medical Research Council February 2008 (Section 4)
Neilsen, B. (1977). Physiology of thermoregulation during swimming. In B. Eriksson & B. Furberg
(Eds.), Swimming Medicine IV ‐ Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress on Swimming
Medicine. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.