SLSQ Research Panel Members

February 23, 2023

The Research Panel was reinstated to

  • Promote and conduct research,
  • Enhance capacity and success of the research outputs,
  • Engage with relevant committees and panels,
  • Provide guidance and leadership, and
  • Demonstrate research cohesion, management and leadership underpinned by strong and effective governance processes.


Death in Open Water Swimming Races Article Review (Masi et al., 2022)


The level of interest and participation in open water swimming (OWS) in recent year has increased across the globe and become an alternative and/or extension of pool swimming. It has also attracted greater interest from researchers.


The amount of literature that might be of value to anybody organising, planning or managing an OWS event or recreational activity is limited. There is several Surf Life Saving clubs and members involved in hosting community OWS events or providing the water safety at surf lifesaving carnivals and it is important to develop our collective knowledge and capacity in this field.


A recent publication on Deaths in Open Water Swimming Races in Brazil from 2009 to 2019 in the International Journal of Exercise Science has provided an interesting insight into some recent deaths from this sport.


The research was based on the review of data and the implementation of a survey instrument, with host organisations conducting OWS, Internet searches and personal communication with coaches, competitors and event organisers. The cut-off year of 2019 was chosen due to the decrease in events and activities because of COVID19.


There are some interesting numbers that while not significant presents information that provides a clear overview highlighting and that open water swimming has a higher rate of death than other sporting events. Cardiovascular problems are the primary cause of death and as lifesavers it is worth noting that we are talking about incidences involving fit and capable athletes competing in a sporting event, i.e. triathlons. The researchers suggest that water presents the added complication of the potential for the airway to be submerged in the water, especially if the individual suffers some form of medical episode that impacts their swimming ability.


The analysis of the swimming races was divided into four portions: The start or pre-start, the opening leg of the race, the middle section, the final portion of the race and the finish or arrival on shore. Most of the swimmers were classed as experienced, with the opening or race start and the final phase of the swimming races in events between 1 and 5 km recording the bulk of the incidences in oceanic waters.


The researchers provide a range of points for consideration around open water swimming events, including the impact of medical complications, water temperature, the impact of transitioning from the horizontal position in the water to being vertical which provide an insight into the extra care that may be required when providing water safety in an open water swimming event.



Masi, F. D., Silva, G. C. E., Mello, D. B. D., Szpilman, D., & Tipton, M. (2022). Deaths in Open Water Swimming Races in Brazil from 2009 to 2019. 12.