FINA Considering Instituting Minimum Age For World Championships

While in Singapore at the 2015 FINA Jr World Championships, FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu told Reuters that FINA is looking into implementing a minimum age for future FINA World Championship events.

A ten year-old swimmer from Bahrain named Alzain Tareq made headlines after competing at the FINA World Championships earlier this month. It is not common to swimmers that young at the World Championships. She is the youngest swimmer to ever compete at the World Championships, and will most likely remain the youngest if FINA institutes a minimum age. 

Currently there is no minimum age for the World Championships, but there is a minimum age for the Junior World Championships. Swimmers have to be at least 14 before they can compete at the Junior World Championships.

When asked about Tareq competing at the World Championships, FINA President Julio Maglione made some interesting comments defending Tareq when people criticized letting a 10 year old swim at the World Championships by insisting it was better that she was swimming at the championships rather than taking marijuana or cocaine.

“370,000 people drown every year, especially children, and we can not ignore this problem. For her, this is a game and it’s better for children to have fun at this and not start at age 10 to take marijuana or cocaine, smoking or drinking alcohol”

Despite receiving support from president Maglione, it appears FINA will be moving in a new direction and limiting young children from competing at the World Championships. Many people felt Tareq’s participation was politically motivated. Bahrain and Saudia Arabia were rumored to be submitting a joint bid for a future FINA event because FINA can not award the event to a country unless there are equal opportunities for both male and female athletes.

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5 years ago

So… 14 and over unless they have some kind of B standard, at which point must be 12? A smaller country could have a great swimmer at an early age, Missy Franklin swam trials at what, 12-13?

5 years ago

Why not just have minimum time standards? If a swimmer is fast enough to compete at the World Championships, I don’t care how old they are.

Reply to  CraigH
5 years ago

CraigH – I think the system will should settle on effectively a “minimum age for universality.” The reason to not have minimum time standards (besides the fact that FINA has said in no uncertain terms that time standards don’t actually matter) is that it eliminates development opportunities in smaller countries. Eric the Eel in Ecuatorial Guinea is a good example – they’re still not a swimming powerhouse, but now at least have some sort of developed swimming program on the back of his Olympic participation. So, they shouldn’t limit a swimmer who hits a FINA “B” standard regardless of age, for example, but could limit a universality participant (aka, a swimmer from a country who had no qualified swimmers) to… Read more »

5 years ago

this argument(?) about taking drugs or else makes no sense, it was not critzised for letting her swim at a swim meet but for the fact that is was worlds. im sure there are other competitions she can compete in and even if not theres no reason she would get in touch with drugs because of not swimming at worlds

Reply to  anonymus
5 years ago

Exactly. Maybe USA swimming can help them understand what age and level appropriate involvement in the sport looks like.

Reply to  anonymus
5 years ago

At first I didn’t understand his statement either. Now that I think about he probably means that at age 10, it’s better for Alzain Tareq to be competing at a world championships than to be doing drugs. Both activities shouldn’t be done at any age, but competing at worlds wouldn’t bring her harm as doing drugs would.

5 years ago

I don’t like this. Let the kids swim. Good publicity for swimming in the smaller countries.

5 years ago

I am confused by his comment. Does this mean they are canceling the drug- and alcohol-fueled post meet party?

Tough Call
Reply to  floppy
5 years ago

If this is the case, I’m out!

5 years ago

So, why not add an age limit to Worlds unless a certain time standard is hit, and take it way from Jr. Worlds? BOOM, problem solved! SwimSwam readers can solve any problem!

TX Swim Mom
5 years ago

Just wondering if they had this little girl entered because they would not have entered an older female in mixed company? How many females above the age of 12 are allowed to compete in meets in the Middle East where males are present?

5 years ago

“370,000 people drown every year, especially children, and we can not ignore this problem. For her, this is a game and it’s better for children to have fun at this and not start at age 10 to take marijuana or cocaine, smoking or drinking alcohol”


Every time I read a statement by a FINA offical, my IQ drops dozen points. I am running low…

About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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