Courtesy of WOWSA, Gold Coast, Australia.

Swimming at the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be held at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre in the Gold Coast, Australia from April 5th to 10th. A total of 50 events are scheduled, but not an open water swimming race.

The Olympic Games has an 10 km open water swimming event. The Special Olympics World Summer Games has a 1.5 km open water swimming event. The World University Games has a 10 km open water swimming race. The European Swimming Championships has a 5 km solo, 5 km team race, 10 km, and 25 km events. The Southeast Asian Games, Asian Beach Games, and the South American Beach Games each host 5 km and 10 km races. The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships has a 10 km open water race.

Triathlon events are held at the Commonwealth Games, often with the swimming leg of the triathlon held in the same venue where open water swimming could also be held – just as was done at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and other multi-sport, multi-discipline international competitions.

But why no open water swimming at the quadrennial Commonwealth Games, especially along the Gold Coast in the heart of open water swimming in the Southern Hemisphere, in the epicenter of open water swimming Down Under?
The decision to pass on open water swimming may be based on higher priorities and limited budgets [an unconfirmed conjecture] – even though open water swimming powerhouses like Australia, England, and Canada participate in these competitions.

Many of 71 of the countries and territories* that participate in these quadrennial international competitions have national open water swimming teams including New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

If triathlon is included like it was in Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006 and Glasgow 2014, the open water swimming competitions do not incur significant costs: the same buoys, course and escort boats can be used, even a start and finish can be held on the beach to reduce the cost of starting and finish pontoons,” asked Steven Munatones. “If budgets are tight, even asking the athletes to swim near the shoreline to grab hydration and feeds is possible. Timing equipment, official’s gear and much of the exact same equipment can be share with the triathlon competition.

The locals certainly know how to organize great ocean races. The Australians appreciate all kinds of swimming competitions and have a proud history in the marathon racing including Tamara Bruce, Melissa Cunningham, Trent Grimsey, Susie Maroney, Linda McGill, Shelley Taylor-Smith, Ky Hurst, David O’Brien, Rhys Mainstone, Melissa Gorman, and Chelsea Gubecka.”

Former International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame chairman Christopher Guesdon offered an explanation, “The reason the open water swimming events were not included in the Commonwealth Games in Australia was there was little hope of medals for Australia as there was in other sports. Maybe the UK will pick us as they have the next games.”

British open water swimmer Kate Steels-Fryatt commented, “I think it is a missed opportunity in this tremendous location not to showcase open water swimming, particularly as the sport is growing in popularity worldwide and within the UK.”

* 2018 Commonwealth Games participating nations include Anguilla (12 athletes), Antigua and Barbuda (18), Australia (474), Bahamas (31), Bangladesh (26), Barbados (45), Belize (12), Bermuda (8), Botswana (27), British Virgin Islands (10), Brunei (8), Cameroon (41), Canada (283), Cayman Islands (22), Cook Islands (18), Cyprus (47), Dominica (13), England (396), Falkland Islands (15), Fiji (97), The Gambia (6), Ghana (71), Gibraltar (22), Grenada (15), Guernsey (31), Guyana (23), India (218), Isle of Man (32), Jamaica (115), Jersey (33), Kenya (138), Kiribati (16), Lesotho (20), Malawi (20), Malaysia (178), Malta (25), Mauritius (54), Montserrat (7), Mozambique (28), Namibia (28), Nauru (16), New Zealand (253), Nigeria (90), Niue (19), Norfolk Island (18), Northern Ireland (90), Pakistan (56), Papua New Guinea (56), Rwanda (17), Saint Helena (9), Saint Kitts and Nevis (10), Saint Lucia (13), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (20), Samoa (38), Scotland (224), Seychelles (25), Sierra Leone (25), Singapore (60), Solomon Islands (14), South Africa (196), Sri Lanka (79), Swaziland (10), Tanzania (19), Tonga (13), Trinidad and Tobago (51), Turks and Caicos Islands (9), Tuvalu (7), Uganda (70), Vanuatu (18), Wales (214), and Zambia (38).

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