Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Minimum Age Requirements For Marathon Swimming

We read a recent article about 10-year-old Swapnali Yadav, nicknamed in India as the 'Little Mermaid', who completed the 10K Bermuda Round the Sound Open Swim in October. This article reported that Swapnali was chosen by world governing body FINA to participate and represent India in the Bermuda Round the Sound Swim, organized by the Bermuda Swimming Association under the aegis of FINA.

The Bermuda Round the Sound Swim is not an event sanctioned or organized by FINA, but is instead produced and organized by 2008 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year Randy Nutt who does a masterful job hosting this annual event.

FINA and most of the world's governing bodies in open water swimming have established minimum age requirements for marathon swims. All too often, the sport has seen pre-teen athletes being obviously pushed by their parents or coaches. While the physical exploits of these young athletes are impressive, it is usually the case that these athletes are never again heard of in the world of open water swimming.

There are exceptional athletes who set world records, like when Lynne Cox set the overall English Channel record at the age of 15 in 1972, but marathon swims in the pre-teen years is frowned upon by nearly all the different governing bodies in open water swimming.

We prefer to see athletes take up marathon swimming as a life-long pursuit only after the athlete has the physiological and psychological foundation to freely, willingly and enthusiastically push themselves as a marathon swimmer.

Different opinions are welcomed, of course. in our open forum.

Photo shows the Grotto Bay Beach Resort, headquarters to the Bermuda Round the Sound Open Swim.

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