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Heat plays havoc with 25K open water races
US swimmers among those to pull out of 25k at open water worlds because of high water temps
By The Associated Press

JINSHAN CITY, China (AP) ' Unsafe water temperatures played havoc with the 25-kilometer race at the open water world championships Saturday, forcing most of the American team and veteran Thomas Lurz of Germany to withdraw and the men's defending champion to quit hours into the race.

The men's and women's races were moved to a 6 a.m. start Saturday in an attempt to run them in cooler conditions. But the water was already 87 degrees, just under the suggested "unsafe" point of 88 degrees.

The water temperature reached 88 later in the morning.

U.S. coach Jack Roach asked his team not to compete, Lurz pulled out and defending champion Balerio Cleri withdrew after four hours, saying it was "too hot and too dangerous" to continue.

Italy's Edoardo Stochino was pulled from the water 4 hours, 50 minutes into the race and taken away on a stretcher as officials poured cold water over his chest.

The only American to start was Claire Thompson, who was in her first international event and wanted to compete. But American officials pulled her from the water 4 hours into the race when they checked the water and found it to be 90.7 degrees.

Safety has become a major concern in open-water swimming following the death of American Fran Crippen in the United Arab Emirates last year. Crippen, a six-time U.S. national champion, died in October near the end of a 10K World Cup event in warm temperatures. No one noticed him slip beneath the surface and his body was not found until two hours after the race.

Organizers here unveiled a high-tech sonar system to quickly locate any swimmer that drops below the surface.

The only American male entered Saturday was Alex Meyer, who won the 25-kilometer race at last year's world championships in Quebec, Canada. Haley Anderson and Thompson were the only Americans entered in the women's race.

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