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Swimming South Africa: 

Swimming South Africa Open Water Swimming Plan of Action 2003 – 2007 Compiled by : OWS Advisory Committee : Nov2003

History of Swimming: 

History of Swimming Swimming became organized as an amateur sport in the late 19th century in several countries. Its popularity increased with the development and improvement of the swimming pool, and swimming was part of the first modern Olympic Games (1896). Olympic events for women were included in 1912. Among non-Olympic distance events, swimming the English Channel has been most publicized. The first confirmed crossing was made (1875) by Matthew Webb of England while Gertrude Ederle of the United States was the first woman to perform (1926) this feat. Swimming has never achieved sustained success as a professional sport in South Africa.

Open Water Swimming: 

Open Water Swimming Royal Navy seaman Captain Webb, Lord Byron and others started it. Captain Webb swam the English Channel in 1875, considered today as one of the three toughest marathon swims in the world. Open water swimming was officially recognized by FINA, the world governing body of swimming in 1986, however one can go back to the 1896 Olympic Games and before to realise that Open Water swimming was the forerunner of the indoor competitive swimming that we know today.


Definition Long-distance swimming is any swimming competition in open water up to 25km. Events greater than this are referred to as marathon swims. Lakes, rivers, canals and the sea constitute open water. Pool events such as swimathons do not count.

Organisiation and Events: 

Organisiation and Events Swimming South Africa runs swimming in the Republic of South Africa and has run an open water national championship for some years under the auspices of OWS / Long Distance Swimming. Formerly over 5 miles, the event has been brought into line with world events and is now 5km. There is also a 25km event. Open Water Championships for seniors and juniors are a more recent development. Swimming South Africa is affiliated to FINA, the world governing body, who has run a World Championship since 1986 and now its open water events are incorporated into many major championships.


It is important to recognise the important work that the South African Open Water Swimming Association (SAOWSA) has contributed to the sport who have consistently encouraged the development of the sport through organising a comprehensive review programme of competitions through out the South African summer. The Channel Swimming Association (CSA) and the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation (CS&PF) regulate all swims in the English Channel. All local swimmers wishing to compete marathon swims should contact Mr. Peter Bales for assistance. Anyone undertaking open water swimming must be a competent swimmer. Whilst open water demands different skills to those of pool swimming, the differences are no greater than between freestyle and backstroke.

Notification from CEO: 

Notification from CEO In order to ensure the smooth functioning of the Open Water Swimming Discipline at a National Level, Swimming South Africa have appointed the following persons to serve on the OWS Advisory Committee. This is an interim measure until the SSA Council has made a decision on whether or not to retain the current Board System or to replace it with Advisory Committees. This decision will be taken at the Special General Meeting in April 2004 with implementation at the Annual General Meeting in June 2004. All Provinces are urged to set up an Open Water committee within their province and to have an open water representative on their executive committee. Open water competitions should be organised and competitors should be encouraged to compete at age group level. Open Water Swimming is the fastest growing discipline within FINA and if we are to be competitive within this discipline internationally then we have to provide the necessary competitive support for our members Mr. Dave Norman : CEO – SSA : 25.08.2003

Swimming South Africa Open Water Swimming Advisory Committee: 

Swimming South Africa Open Water Swimming Advisory Committee Mr. Tony Sellmeyer - Convenor Mr. Peter Bales – Member Mr. Wayne Riddin - Member Mr. Neville Smith - Member Mr. Rafiq Bedford - Member

South Africa Region: 

South Africa Region To facilitate the management of the Open Water Swimming Advisory Committee suggested Plan of Action for the period 2003 to 2007, it has been decided to split South Africa into three Regions. The Southern Region will include Western Province, Northern Cape, Boland and Eastern Cape. The Eastern Region will include Kwa Zulu Natal, Free State, Vaal Triangle and Border. The Northern Region will include Central Gauteng, Northern Tigers, Northern Province, Mpumalanga, Griquas and Northern Province. Neighboring state’s Federations will be encouraged to establish an OWS program and will be invited to send teams to participate at SSA OWS Championships in February.

Regional Responsibilities: 

Regional Responsibilities The Southern Region will be controlled by Mr. Tony Sellmeyer, assisted by Mr. Rafiq Bedford. The Eastern Region will be controlled by Mr. Wayne Ridden. The Northern Region will be controlled by by Mr. Neville Smith. Mr. Peter Bales will be responsible for the national coordination of all marathon swimming events, i.e.. English Channel swims, Manhattan Island swims, etc.

General Preamble: 

General Preamble The OWS Advisory Committee stresses that it cannot be held accountable for OWS in South Africa unless it is in effective control of the discipline which it has been mandated by the SSA body to control. All queries and matters pertaining to Open Water Swimming in the respective Regions will be directed via the OWS Regional controller. These will be presented to the OWS Advisory Committee for the relevant attention. Under NO circumstances will incorrect channels of communication be tolerated. It is imperative that a close working relationship be maintained with the respective provincial Unions and Masters Swimming Associations as these have traditionally been the chief organisers of open water events. A capitation fee is currently being investigated, per competitor per open water swimming event, (excluding The Midmar Mile), which will be paid over to the SSA so as to assist the Federation in sending teams to compete in international events and the development of the sport. In return all events sanctioned by OWS will be advertised on the Swim SA website calendar, pre and post event coverage along with full results. These funds will be paid directly to SSA . ON line registration and entry's can be accommodated on the SwimSA website. The introduction of a South African Open Water Swimming series during the 2003 / 2004 season at venues within the respective regions is planned. These will all serve as qualification events for National team selection. The National Coaching Director, Mr. Rocco Meiring has indicated that he is prepared to include a squad of elite open water swimmers within the National Events Squad.


All coaches shouldl be encouraged to enter their squads for the 5k OWS series in an effort to promote the sport at grass roots level. This will expose the event to a wide range of individuals ranging from development swimmers to elite swimmers. Media contacts, Sports presenters, both TV and radio stations should be approached to promote OWS events on both regional and national channels as well as publications. Sponsors should be encouraged to assist with advertising events A suitable sponsor/s will be sought to assist OWS in its development program and international elite program. Open Water Swimming would like to create their own letter head, which includes the SSA logo along with OWS sponsors. Open Water Swimming should create its own tracksuit, kit and colours for international competition that is not a complete SSA team. These should remain within the criteria laid down by the Federation. All participants at a FINA World Championship event be awarded a green South African blazer and tie, with the King Protea as the badge with the wording Open Water Swimming along with the year embroided in gold. All team selection will be done by the OWS Advisory Committee Selection Committee and forwarded to SSA for ratification. Under no circumstances will a repetition of the 2002 CANA African Championships selection debacle be tolerated.

Open Water Swimming Series: 

Open Water Swimming Series The introduction of an Open Water Swimming Series during the 2003 / 2004 season at venues within the respective regions is planned. These will all serve as qualification events for National team selection. During the initial season it has been decided to have a 5k series that will include at least one 10k event. Elite competitors will be encouraged to participate in this event for World Championships preparation. A suitable sponsor will be sought for this series. Two of these events will run in conjunction with qualification events for the Telkom Halfway Midmar Mile. These will be in Kwa Zulu Natal and at the Germiston Lake in Gauteng. The third event will take place at Club Mykonos in the Western Cape. During the 2004 / 2005 season these events will be expanded over a two day period to accommodate the 10K event. It is imperative that members of the National Events squad participate at at least two of these events.

Elite Squad: 

Elite Squad An Elite Squad consisting of both senior and junior swimmers should be selected. Locally based Elite Open Water swimmers will become part of the Swimming South Africa National Events squad. This squad will gather at a suitably convenient time to train together. The purpose of bringing these swimmers into camp is to ensure that all become more versed with the complex aspects of international open water swimming competition. Nutritional, physiological and media training should be included in this camp. When choosing a venue to host camps serious consideration should be given to having the venue close to the coast. This will ensure that both fresh water and salt water swims can be practiced. The OWS Advisory Committee has requested from SSA that a FINA sanctioned clinic for Coaches and the Elite squad prior to the South African OWS Championships at the Midmar Dam in February 2004 be held. Selection criteria for this squad will initially be led by the OWS Advisory Committee, however in the future, selection should be based on performances at the OWS Series and the SA National OWS Championships. Pool swimmers times will be monitored through out the season.

Selection Criteria: 

Selection Criteria Participation at the South African National OWS Championships along with participation in at least ONE of the National OWS Series will be required from all swimmers to be considered for National Open Water Swimming Team selection. A time of 60 minutes or below for 5k will be deemed an international QT for senior men. A time of 65 min for 5k will be deemed National Events Squad consideration time for senior men. A time of 65 minutes or below will be deemed an international QT for senior woman. A time of 70 min will be deemed National Events Squad consideration time for senior woman. All team members will be required to sign and comply with the Swimming South Africa Code of Conduct. Juniors are regarded as : Men 16 – 18 :: Woman 15 - 17 Junior QT times are currently under investigation. The inclusion of a 5k pool swim at both Senior Nationals and all forthcoming Provincial Championships is a necessity.

Consideration Times: 

Consideration Times Consideration times for the South African Open Water Championships may be established in a Long Course or 5k event promoted by a club, Union or other body affiliated to Swimming South Africa and under SSA or FINA Laws and Technical Rules. The time is to be established in a scratch competition or time trail, without placing. Entry time for South African Open Water Championships / LC 5k event. LC :: Men – 60 minutes :: Woman – 63 minutes SC :: Men – 55min 55sec :: Woman – 59min 30sec

SSA Open Water Swimming World Championships Selection Policy: 

SSA Open Water Swimming World Championships Selection Policy This Policy is for the selection of athletes to represent South Africa in 5k and 10k Open water events at the World Championships to be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE in October 2004. To be considered for selection, all potential swimmers to represent South Africa at the World Championships shall enter and participate at the South African Open Water Championships to be held at the Midmar Dam in February 2004.


The first two placed male and female swimmers at the 2004 South African OWS Championship, subject to achieving the consideration time, will be selected to represent South Africa at the World Championship event. Those swimmers who have represented South Africa during 2002 will be given the opportunity to compete in pre-world competition (FINA Marathon Series). Consideration will be given to all South Africans that finish within 120 seconds of the winner. Up to 2 male and 2 female swimmers per event will be considered, with a maximum team size of 5, subject to budgetary consideration. The South African OWS Advisory Committee reserves the right to approve or hold additional qualifying competitions (due to inclement weather etc.), if they feel they are in the interest of South African swimming. All selected team members will be required to attend programmed training camps, meetings and events as directed by the South African OWS Team Manager/Coach between initial selection and the Championships. All team members will be required to sign and comply with the Swimming South Africa Code of Conduct. Swimmers living and training overseas must comply with this Selection Policy


Team Management will be at the recommendation of the Open Water Swimming Advisory Committee. Team Coaches will be considered for selection based on : Athlete performance ranking Their ability to participate and attend programmed training camps and meetings between selection and the Championships. The need to balance the gender / race ratio for team staff members and subject to budgetary consideration

Elite Competition: 

Elite Competition FINA Open Water Swimming World Championships are held every year. This could change if OWS is accepted as an Olympic sport. Due to proximity consideration should be given to two regions of competition for preparation outside of Europe. These are the Middle East and Far East. The Middle Eastern completions are both FINA sanctioned and form part of the FINA World Marathon Series. The events take place in Dubai and Egypt during March. The Far Eastern competitions are both FINA sanctioned and form part of the FINA World Marathon Series. The events take place in Hong Kong and China during June. National Open Water Swimming Champion, Kenneth Smith and World Championships 2002 Team manager, Tony Sellmeyer have received invitations to attend all of these competitions. All elite open water swimmers should enjoy the same privilege as other National aquatics representatives and be afforded the same financial assistance.

Overseas OWS participation: 

Overseas OWS participation This section deals with the policy for swimmers selected by invitation or self funding to attend international events where necessary for the Federation to endorse their entry. This policy will not effect swimmers selected to represent South Africa and swimmers representing their club in overseas competition where Federation endorsement is not required. The Federation will endorse the entry of swimmers provided they have entered either the 5k, 10k or 25k event at the SA Championships or other events nominated by OWS SSA for this purpose in advance and have finished in the top three in the previous twelve months and or if they have been selected to represent South Africa at the African or World Championships held during the previous 12 months. For other non standard distances, a swimmer may apply for prior dispensation to the OWS SSA consisting of Senior Coach, Senior Team manage and Convener. Their application will only be approved if the OWS Advisory Committee are satisfied that they will meet acceptable standards required to swim under the South African banner.

Overseas OWS Policy: 

Overseas OWS Policy Swimmers who are endorsed by this policy : Shall be issued with and follow the Swimming South Africa Code of Conduct. Will not normally receive any funding from Swimming South Africa for the event. Will not be considered for Team South African selection. Will receive appropriate Team South African team kit. Where the Team Swimming South Africa attend the event, they will be expected to follow the Team protocol at all times. This policy and the championship selection criteria are as objective as possible and are published on the Swimming South Africa website www.swimsa.co.za normally up to six months prior to the event. Swimmers or their representative shall apply for approval in the first instance to the Chief Executive at Swimming South Africa. This application should be made at least four weeks before the event.

Four Year International Program : 

Four Year International Program It is imperative that South Africa be represented at all forthcoming FINA OWS Championships during the next four years. Participation at the 2004 event in the United Arab Emirates during October 2004 should be limited to a team of 2 male swimmers and 2 female swimmers along with a team manager / coach. These competitors should compete in both the 5k and 10k events. Preparation for the 2004 championships should include participation at the FINA Marathon series events in the Middle East and or the Far East. Participation at the 2005 event in Montreal, Canada will be identical to the 2004 season as will the preparation events due to proximity. Participation at the 2006 event will be identical for 2004 and 2005, however the inclusion of a participant in the 25k, both male and female be added. Participation in the 2007 event will hopefully see a full team of two swimmers per event, per gender being sent to World Championships. The goal should be to gain a medal in the team event in at least one of the disciplines. Confirmation from CANA is required as to weather Open Water Swimming will be included at the African Swimming Championships during the period 2004 - 2007

National OWS Championships: 

National OWS Championships The South African Open Water Championships will be held at the Midmar Dam in the KZN Midlands during February and will coincide with the Midmar Mile. This arrangement should remain in place for the next four years, i.e.. 2004 - 2007 The 25k OWS event will take place on the Friday prior to the Midmar Mile with the 5k OWS event taking place on the Monday and the 10k on the Tuesday. All events will start at 0600hrs and will follow a 2,5k course which is spectator friendly. Consideration should be given to invite an Egyptian Open Water Swimming contingent to these championships as they are currently the leading Open Water Swimming nation in Africa. Furthermore all Southern and Central African swimming unions should be encouraged to send participants to the South African National Open Water Swimming Championships in an effort to promote OWS in these countries.

National Colours: 

National Colours National Colours should be presented to all competitors and officials who are selected to represent South Africa at international competition. In all international open water swimming competition that is NOT incorporated into a Swimming South Africa team, participants will be required to wear the National OWS colours. National OWS colours should be awarded in various levels and should be consistent with current Swimming South Africa policy.

Development of OWS in RSA: 

Development of OWS in RSA South Africa has a fine tradition of Open Water Swimmers and has produced some legendary Open Water Swimming competitors such as Lee McGregor, Paul Blackbeard, Graham Hill and many more. The development of the sport of Open Water Swimming should be seen in the context of developing the discipline of OWS within the parameters of the Swimming South Africa umbrella. Development should not be seen as affirmative action, but the progressive establishment of a program that is sure to benefit all competitors of this aquatic discipline. Provincial Unions and Provincial Masters Associations will be encouraged to promote OWS via dam swims which have proved to be extremely popular with the general public. While competitive, most dam swims are seen as a family outing and the challenge for many is just the completion of the event. The National Open Water Series will be expanded to include at least another two venues during the 2004/2005 season along with the inclusion of 10k events. International competitors will be invited to participate in these series in an effort to raise the profile of OWS within the Republic.

SA OWS Elite Calendar: 

SA OWS Elite Calendar 06 December 2003 SA OWS Series – 5k & 10k – Club Mykonos 21 December 2003 SA OWS Series – 5k – Germiston Lake 17 January 2004 False Bay 12k Iron Man Challenge 02 – 05 February 2004 FINA Camp - TBA 06 February 2004 SA Open Water Championship 25k – Midmar 07 - 08 February 2004 Halfway Telkom Midmar Mile – Midmar 09 February 2004 SA Open Water Championship 5k – Midmar 10 February 2004 SA Open Water Championship 10k – Midmar


Conclusion This document is a broad based Plan of Action that the Open Water Swimming Advisory Committee feels is a workable solution to achieving the development of the discipline from grass roots level to elite competition. Once approved/amended the Open Water Advisory Committee will submit the relevant budgetary requirements to the Federation along with initiating a sound rapport with all relevant and interested parties so as to obtain maximum exposure to the sport.

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