Friday, April 15, 2011

The FINA Task Force report! - It's the math, stupid!

Two readers have pointed me to the FINA Task Force report regarding the Fran Crippen death. (Thank you Rob and Mike).

I want to read it a couple more times to be sure that I have not missed anything. On a quick scan through I see that the task force offered no solutions or guidelines but rather outlined what topics need to be addressed.

To begin: The cause of death is clear: It was too damn hot, both the air and water.

So far USA Swimming is the only governing body to suggest clear rule changes such as specific water temps, GPS, and such but USA Swimming isn't the rule maker for FINA. These are just demands.

Now, here is where FINA, USA Swimming, and even event promoters are not getting the information they need most; (Warning here comes a technical sentence) - What is the coefficient of heat transfer between skin and salt water? Or, what air-to-water temp ratio is absolutely in the safe range to swim in. Engineers please?

That sentence is a mouthful but here is what it means: Mechanical engineers have lots of charts and books with exact formulas and answers in them. These formulas can tell engineers all sorts or mechanical details such as how long it takes for a ceramic cup to cool down after it has been in a pottery kiln? How long it takes for salt water to evaporate at specific air temps, even how long and how hot it has to be to make bread rise.

Now, somewhere in one of those arcane references is a water-to-air ratio that can simply state when a body overheats or goes hypothermic in either fresh water or saltwater. If none exist, which I sincerely doubt is the case, then one has to be researched.

Till then, I say pick a number that is so safe in regards to both hyperthermia and hypothermia standards that races can be conducted quite safely till a coefficient is produced.

More later.


Temper the Fervor... said...

Might have to read it one more time...The report does lay out a lot of guidelines, including specific temperature guidelines of no warmer than 28 degrees Celsius, which is in fact well below the guideline that USA-Swimming's committee has recommended. Be sure to check out the full report, rather than just a single section before falling into the trap that other swim sites use, which is to just attack whoever was the last person to do something wrong because it's easy.

I do agree though with you though that I can't understand why coming up with definitive scientific evidence on the temperature matter is so difficult. I'm surprised that some academic, entirely independent of the sport, hasn't snapped that one up in a heart beat.

Anonymous said...

You cannot determine the safe temperature range easily by doing some calculations. Every individual is different: amount of body fat, heart rate (metabolism), how hard they are exercising (rate of heat production), what they are wearing (e.g., type of cap, suit), body shape, whether they are sick with a cold or flu on the day of the race, etc. Swimmers like Diana Nyad have unique constitutions that allow them to swim in water that would kill mere mortals. The bottom line is one size does not fit all.

Tony Austin said...

Yes on prima facie you are absolutely correct however, There are wind chill charts:

They have air-temp to humidity temp which is summarily the opposite of the wind chill chart:

Subsequently if they can make rule sets for cold water, cold air, hot water and humidity, I am sure the math is there to calculate the risk factors.

In fact, would you want to help me calculate it?

Anonymous said...

I suggest you do a google search for "wind speed assumptions" to get a better idea of the limits of the calculation. The assumptions can cause the results to be off by 10s of degrees. It is just a rough estimate. The same problem exists for heat index calculations (assumes you are in the shade, for example; and not exercising).

I would not do the calculation, because the risks of liability are too great.

Sam said...

Out of interest what was the temperature?


Tony Austin said...

The water temp was 86-degrees Fahrenheit - the air temp was above 100-degrees which is close to a 200-degree combined temp.

Dick Pound, formerly of WADA and part of the investigation has suggested a combined air and water temp of 145-degrees.

I think Dick Pound is on to something.

I am impressed.

Temper the Fervor said...

You still don't feel the need to address (in comments or in your post) that FINA did, in fact, state a temperature in their report? I think it's awfully gutsy for someone in your position to overlook something like that because they didn't want to take the time to read the full report. Might shade doubt on some of your other accusations.

Anonymous said...

US Swimming should have insisted that Dick go by Richard... with the state of all things considered

Tony Austin said...

As for my previous accusations, I have been extraordinarily accurate and leveraged change thanks to my readers and my ability to publish what I believe is true without fear of losing a job or deck access. That is demonstrable and this includes child protection policies and FINA gaming tech suit rules despite the proper science to the contrary.

FINA said the water temp was 95, the humidity temp 74% - (AP said it was 86 so who are you going to believe?)- Just sitting in that water if it was 95-degrees would have led to severe hypothermia despite hydration when you account for the fact that there was absolutely no heat sink available to cool the swimmer.


Anonymous said...

Not hypothermia in 86 or 95 degree water...HYPERthermia.

Tony Austin said...

Yes, thank you, my typo.

Temper the Fervor said...

I'm referring to your original post, where you claim that "So far USA Swimming is the only governing body to suggest clear rule changes such as specific water temps". That's a flat out lie. USA Swimming, in fact, stole those numbers from a report released by a governing body in AUSTRALIA a few months before. FINA also listed a maximum temperature recommendation in their report. That's where your recounting was inaccurate, which you've sort of ignored in a seeming attempt to just attack FINA. FINA deserves plenty of attacking, but only for things that they've actually done wrong, of which this does not appear to be one.

My comment had nothing to do with how warm the water actually was, upon which I have no foundation to challenge what either FINA or the AP have cited.

Tony Austin said...

USA Swimming came out with their recommendations first.

If they stole them then show me!

I stand by this paragraph:

"...On a quick scan through I see that the task force offered no solutions or guidelines but rather outlined what topics need to be addressed. "

See Part 8, page 5 in the Conclusions and Recommendations of the FINA Report. All of it was merely suggestions with numerous phrases that went like this: "should be available, should be looked at, should set this, should set that." etc. etc. Do a search on the word should and you will be surprised at how wishy-washy the findings are. Be sure to have a bucket nearby to throw-up in.

USA Swimming's report went more along the lines of de facto rules and statements not merely suggestions:

1. If the water temperature is below 16 C (60.8 F), no race can be held.

2. For races of 5K and above, if the water is above 31 C (87.8 F), no race can be held.

3. If the air temperature and water temperature added together (in Celsius) are less than a total of 30, no race can be held.

4. If the air temperature and water temperature added together (in Celsius) are greater than 63, no race can be held.

So, calling me out as a liar is erroneous!

Temper the Fervor... said...

"During the hearings, minimum temperatures of 18 C and maximum temperatures of 28 C were recommended"

Don't get caught up in the language. That's exactly the same force as the recommendation by USA Swimming's committee...only FINA didn't portray their committee as part of the organization as USA Swimming did, ya know, for independence? FINA's committee didn't state things as though they had the ultimate authority in the decisions as USA Swimming's committee did, because they are being more careful about showing independence. All the committee had a mandate to do was to tell FINA would they "should do," not what they have to do. FINA is going to take that recommendation and implement it, guaranteed. Perhaps the "wishy washy" language is what FINA sent the report back to get corrected when they were lambasted by the media? Keep in mind that this report, as written, was probably translated from a foreign language (or at least written by those whose first language was not English).

Here's the two issues I take with saying USA Swimming did everything right, and FINA did everything wrong:

1) USA Swimming had as much or more representation on the committee than any other organization. If that report was "wishy washy," it was as much their fault as anybody's.
2) FINA could've just regurgitated other people's findings as well, or made up numbers. But they had a much larger task than USA Swimming, who just had to make up recommendations. FINA had to cover everything that happened in the Crippen incident. Realistically, USA Swimming's report would've taken no more than a week to put together. Again, it appears that FINA's intent was to delay the report to do actual research, rather than rely on guesstimates and anecdotal evidence, as USA Swimming seemed to.

See also this site, that I know you've referenced in your past posts, for the original report from which USA garnered their temperature information. It's easy to come up with quick, firm data if you're just copying someone else's research...:

Tony Austin said...

I will never link to the Swimmer's circle every again after being burned by their USA Banned List that featured names that were not banned.

I will look at the links after work.