Andrew Gemmell Speaks Out About FINA’s Swimming World

Courtesy of Craig Lord, Swimming World Magazine.

Andrew Gemmell spoke with Craig Lord about the mindset and decisions of FINA executives and FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee (TOWSC) members in a recent hard-hitting article in Swimming World Magazine: read here (Andrew Gemmell’s Red Flag To FINA: “A Matter of Time Until We Have Another Tragedy).

It is much appreciated how Andrew speaks out; he speaks from experience and he speaks the truth,” says Steven Munatones. “But Andrew is also retired – he has nothing to lose. He will not enter another FINA competition. But the swimmers who are currently competing, they cannot say anything publicly or else their careers will be in jeopardy. FINA can discipline them and so, in fact, can their own governing bodies.

The one thing about marathon swimmers is that they are tough, very tough and disciplined. Always have been, always will be. So no matter what the conditions or water temperatures are, swimmers will always compete and deal with the consequences of the water conditions later. Like when the Japanese national open water swimming championships were held in Odaiba Marine Park. The athletes knew the water was polluted, but they still swam and many of them ended up sick or in the hospital.

That kind of toughness is in their DNA – so there is no real downside if FINA holds an event in extreme water temperatures that can be dangerous or in heavily polluted waters.

Only in few isolated cases have leading swimmers like world champions Alex Meyer, Thomas Lurz, and Lindy Heister protested against FINA actions (in Shanghai at the 2009 FINA World Championships when the water temperature exceeded 31°C. But even the strong voices of these world champions fell upon the deaf ears of TOWSC’s Flavio Bomio and Dr. David Gerrard of the FINA Sports Medicine Committee, both of whom could have easily and authoritatively intervened on the behalf of the swimmers
.”

But Gemmell echoes much of what swimmers – and many coaches – think privately, but do not dare say publicly, “FINA needs to be a leader in setting the bar of what is required to host an elite open water race, and providing the resources, knowledge, and expertise to local organizing committees to make sure those standards are upheld. Unfortunately, FINA has fallen short in that area.”

Video above shows the finish of the 2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships 10 km marathon swim held in Long Beach, California where Fran Crippen raced against and beat world championship silver medalist Andrew Gemmell, world champion Alex Meyer, and 2012 bronze medalist Richard Weinberger.

Read Craig Lord‘s article in Swimming World Magazine here

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