FINA Approves New Open Water, Water Polo Rules for 2017-2021

FINA, the world governing body for 6 major disciplines of aquatic sports, have announced the results of the Open Water Swimming and Water Polo Technical Congresses that took place on July 13th in Budapest.

At the congress, the new rules that will be in effect from 2017-2021 were approved, and there were only very minor changes.

In Open Water Swimming, the 3 Main Changes Were:

  • Removal of the Chief Race Judge’s role, as this position is no longer required
  • Recognition of the Chief Referee’s role as the primary official responsible for the conduct of the competition
  • Terminology consistency in all rules relating to the finish wall

The Chief Race Judges role was primarily a managerial one over the regular race judges. Per FINA OWS rules 3.24-3.26, this position:

  • Confirmed to each race judge their escort boat and instructed them in their duties
  • Record and communicate any decision received from the Referees during the competition
  • Collect after the race, signed sheets from each Race Judge of their observations during the race which will be sent directly to the Chief Referee

While FINA has not released the new precise verbiage, this duty seems to have been passed to the Chief Referee.

In Water Polo, in spite of different proposed changes that would fundamentally alter the game, the only change was to validate the rules related to recent changes to the format of the Olympic tournament. Specifically, these rules expanded the women’s field from 8 to 10 teams, and reduced Olympic roster sizes from 13 to 11 in both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

FINA expects to call an Extraordinary Congress of its new Technical Water Polo Committee in 2018 to validate further changes, which includes “proposing new ways to enhance the first Olympic team sport in the five continents.”



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5 years ago

Never played water polo, but I kind of like the idea of going down to a 25m playing area so that it can be contested in more countries/areas.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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