Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pretty in pink...

Swims run by surf life saving clubs in Queensland this coming season will require all swimmers to wear high visibility singlets. Fluoro pink high visibility singlets. The requirement comes under a rule adopted by Surf Life Saving Queensland which comes into force in September, intended to enhance competitor safety in events run by surf clubs. Not just ocean swims, but other events, too, such as surf carnivals.

The rule will have a significant impact on the finances of ocean swims run by surf clubs, with the organising club providing the singlets which, presumably, will be returnable after the swim. Clubs will be seeking sponsors just for the singlets. They'll also be guessing at how many they'll need and the mix of sizes, and working out ways to ensure they get them all back.

We understand the SLSA in Victoria also is bringing in the rule, although we're not sure whether it will extend to ocean swims as well as to internal SLSA events, such as surf carnivals.

In NSW, we understand the NSW SLSA State Centre will introduce it for surf carnivals,  but not for ocean swims, and that requirement will become compulsory only after another year.

A trifle over the top? Seems so to us. Sure, there have been tragic deaths at the SLSA national championships over past years -- and we don't dismiss them at all -- but nothing has ever happened in ocean swims in Australia, to our knowledge, to justify such an extreme step.

A more effective policy, and a more constructive step for the SLSA, would be to stipulate cap colours. Fluoro pink, for example, along with fluoro yellow, green... bright colours that stand out in the rolling, restless sea, would be a far more effective safety measure than something that's going to be below the surface anyway. And certainly far more effective than the "lost at sea" range of colours that many swim organisers dispense to us -- charcoal, light grey, navy blue, dark purple, black, etc.

This new rule doubtless is inspired by the deaths at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships. However, the rule applied to the most recent championships, we believe, and they still couldn't find the unfortunate competitor who was lost.

Turn your attention to caps, SLSA. That's where you can make a difference.