With the American swimmers purposefully not going to the FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup in Abu Dhabi on March 13th, most of the top open water swimming nations of the world are heading to the United Arab Emirates to compete in the race organized by Ayman Saad, the Egyptian race organizer who ignored the initial pleas of Alex Meyer to look for his missing teammate Fran Crippen during a FINA race in 2010.
American swimmers at the infamous FINA race where Crippen died can remember jumping back into the race course and looking for his body long before Saad decided that something was amiss.
While American swimmers still believe that putting another FINA race in the hands of Saad is amiss, it is a different story for administrators at national governing bodies.
The situation – to officially participate or not – presents a delicate decision for USA Swimming. While individuals in the American governing body personally support the position of its athletes and remember the circumstances of Crippen’s death and Saad’s immediate response to the tragedy, USA Swimming is walking a fine line when it incurs the wrath of FINA. FINA, as the sole international governing body of swimming, has the authority to discipline athletes, reprimand its member governing bodies, and to prevent any member governing bodies to participate in future events, pool or open water.
That is, FINA‘s authority is total and complete. FINA holds all the governing cards in its hands. FINA’s rulings have no appeal.
So while American swimmers are individually deciding not to participate in the Abu Dhabi FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup race, most other open water swimming countries are publicly supporting the race organized by Saad. The national governing bodies from around the world will send their athletes to the United Arab Emirates to compete in the special event where Saad has received FINA’s approval to triple the standard FINA prize money.
The up-and-coming field being hosted by Saad includes Olympians and world champions like Allan do Carmo of Brazil, Romain Beraud of France, Vitaliy Khudyakov of Kazakhstan, Christian Reichert and Angela Maurer of Germany, Cecilia Biagioli of Argentina, Martina Grimaldi of Italy, Kristel Köbrich of Chile, and Olga Kozydub of Russia.
With the additional prize money and free accommodations offered by Saad, the number of athletes attracted to the event will make the 10 km marathon race one of the most popular – if not the most popular race – on this year’s FINA World Cup circuit…as if nothing is amiss.
Editor’s Note: FINA issued information that Belgium’s Brian Ryckeman was going to attend its FINA/HOSA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup race in Abu Dhabi. This is, in fact, incorrect information. Ryckeman will instead participate in the Fran Crippen race in Florida in support of his former competitor and friend.
Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association