Following in step with the International Olympic Committee, FINA has named Kosovo as its 208th member federation.
While the country is still relatively new to swimming competitively, it has already had a major impact on international competition – in the form of controversy. In 2008, Mike Cavic was suspended for the latter half of the European Championships for wearing a shirt that read “Kosovo is Serbia” on the medal podium while accepting his gold in the 50 fly.
The shirt was a reference to Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in February of 2008. While most of the world, including over half of the United Nations, have recognized the Kosovo as a sovereign state, there are still 5 holdouts within the European Union – Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain – who have not. Further, Serbia recognizes “that the government in Pristina exercises administrative authority over the territory of Kosovo” and that it is “prepared to deal with Pristina as a legitimate governing authority.”
The country has never participated in swimming at a World Championships, European Championships, or Olympic Games, though they do have one promising young talented female swimmer, Rita Zeqiri, that is a strong candidate to be the international debut for Kosovo, though she won’t contend for any medals or even semi-finals.
The distribution of the FINA National Member Federations in the five continents is now as follows: Africa – 52; Americas – 44; Asia – 44; Europe – 52; Oceania – 16.