As some of you might have heard already, FINA has recently enforced new rules, or bylaws as they are called. They are (among other things) directed at open water swimming equipment and specifically the use of wetsuits.
Now, what has this to do with swimrun you might ask?
Well, for the majority of swimmers FINA or Fédération Internationale de Natation (International Swimming Federation), is well-known as the international federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for administering international competition in water sports. FINA oversees competition in: swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, open water swimming and the popular ‘Masters’ competition.
It is custom for sports disciplines to regularly undergo revision of rules and regulations, especially in relation to equipment and its development. The major change recently issued by FINA, which also can have bearing on swimrun (read them here), is the mandatory use of a wetsuit in water below 18 degrees Celsius (optional to use between 18-20 degrees).
/…/ BL 8.5 From January 1, 2017, for open water swimming competitions in water with temperature below 20 C, men and women may use either swimsuits (BL 8.4) or wetsuits. When the water temperature is below 18 C, the use of wetsuits is compulsory.
Interestingly enough, no further details are given other than that a wetsuit or swimsuit must be ‘made of material providing thermal insulation’, and that it comes with restrictions regarding body coverage.
[Cont.] For the purpose of these rules, wetsuits are swimsuits made of material providing thermal insulation. Wetsuits for both men and women shall completely cover torso, back, shoulders and knees. They shall not extend beyond the neck, wrists and ankles. (p.12) /…/
Swimrun recently experienced a similar equipment regulation development when ÖtillÖ banned use of fins longer than 15 cm in their own races. It will be interesting to see if regulations by a big actor like FINA, which governs ‘one’ of the two disciplines that make up the stand-alone swimrun sport, also will have effect on its rules.
As many of you already know, the majority of swimrun races in northern Europe partake in water temperatures well below 18 degrees, and that many swimrunners opt for using different variants of protection, full suit, shorty or even wetsuit vests without shoulders. Safety is always a concern in racing, especially with regards to hypothermia or fatigue in strong current or messy water, and being able to stay warm fighting your way across the swim stage is really important. Every now and then we hear of people facing this challenge and in 2016, many people talked about this especially with the 1000 lakes race hosted by ÖtillÖ, that turned out to be really cold, much colder than expected, forcing several to DNF.
WoS ended 2016 by pointing out some key topics for debate in 2017, one of which was regulation of swimrun gear. When a big organisation like FINA makes a move in this direction, will we see swimrun race organisers follow? Expect a vibrant discussion as more swimrunners join the movement.
We also hope that things don’t get out of hand and that the swimrun rules and regulations stay ‘Lagom’, as they say in Swedish, not as with some of the other by-laws passed by FINA.
BL 8.8 /…/ Men shall not wear makeup. Hair gel is permitted. Moustaches are allowed. (p.12)
/The WoS Team