Editor’s note: ok, you got us, this was an April Fool’s joke. But, given what happened in Canada, (here, and here), it was appropriate timing for a biting social commentary.
FINA has announced a rules change to the format of it’s World Cup Series. After Mexico stepped away from their duties as hosts of the 2017 World Championships, FINA members met to discuss option to minimize the financial burden of hosting FINA events.
Initially, FINA was surprised to learn of the financial burden put on the host country. Economics is precisely on what Mexico based its withdrawal, citing the high cost of hosting the event specifically within the context of its weakened position in the world market due to falling oil prices. The country settled on paying the $5 million withdrawal penalty to FINA rather than furthering its investment two years out from the competition.
“We have seen the notice of CONADE (ComisiónNacional del Deporte), which surprised us, as the benefit of organising the FINA World Championships is much higher than the cost of running the event,” FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu told SwimSwam via email after the Mexico pulled out of their hosting duties, saying that the organization is preparing to share the next steps in finding a new host shortly.
– FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu
USA Swimming executive director Chuck Wielgus told us the estimated $80 million price tag tied to managing the entire competition, which includes swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water, is certainly the event’s biggest detraction. The possibility of breaking even on such an encompassing event is estimated to be nil, providing little incentive to countries with sluggish economies.
“We would love to host a long course world championships in the United States, but the economic requirements make it impossible for us to seriously consider.”
In the vote, FINA approved a new format for the FINA World Cup Series to help eliminate unnecessary costs for the hosts of the event. This new format comes after numerous attempts to amend the judging procedures for breaststroke. There is a lot of controversy surrounding all of the rules changes to the breaststroke over the last decade. Many coaches and officials have argued that there is still not a fair way to judge the breaststroke. It is too difficult to determine if a swimmer is taking multiple dolphin kicks during the pullouts, and therefore, breaststroke will be eliminated from the World Cup Series.
FINA tells us they expect that eliminating breaststroke from the World Cup format will help reduce costs by lowering the number of officials needed, shortening the meet with fewer events, and by eliminating prize money paid to someone who may have gotten away with cheating. This new format will serve as a trial run through the 2017 season. At that time, FINA will reevaluate the new format and either permanently switch to this format for all of their swimming events or eliminate this format all together.
Breaststrokers and their fans need not be worried, however. FINA did propose a compromise so they would not be eliminating the stroke all-together. Starting this year, breaststroke competitions will take place at synchronized swimming events because of the increased need for strict and fair judging. In December of 2014, FINA voted for the addition of mixed-gender events in synchronized swimming and diving at the Extraordinary Congress in Doha, Qatar. With the addition of men’s synchronized swimming to FINA events, both male and female breaststrokers will be catered to. Synchronized swimming already utilizes a full panel of judges so there will not be any added costs to add breaststroke to the synchronized swimming lineup.
Multiple swimmers have told us that they are fans of the new format, and are excited that they won’t have to sit around waiting for the breaststroke events to finish. Bohemian Olympian and National record holder, Elvis Burrows added,
“Breaststroke is the stroke I do to relax and warm down, bout time FINA wised up and let the real men race. As a sprinter, it’s fly or die; you go fast or you go home. Nobody cares how fast anyone can swim the slowest stroke.”
This could mean that hosting the Long Course World Championships will shift from economically impossible to beneficial for many countries, including Mexico and the United States.
FINA’s Sr. Assistant Vice Secretary, Ms. Fools, said, “We are looking forward to helping the sport grow doing what we can do ease the burden placed on the shoulder of the host committees.” April also added that FINA is welcoming change and are hoping to learn a lot from this experience.