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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Noah Fishel
8 years ago

I support young aged children being able to go to the world championships, but what I don’t understand is how a 10 year-old qualified?

Liam Knubel
Reply to  Noah Fishel
24 days ago


8 years ago

I personally think that an age limit should be put on worlds like it is for junior to help prevent overtraining of young swimmers that potentially reach their potential at a young age and do nothing when they are at the right age. I’m not saying the young 10 year old was over trained but the thought of going to worlds, but it’s the fact that younger swimmers who are exceptional swimmers get in the range of the time standard and target that with too much importance considering their age. Taking out the possiblilty of young swimmers to attend worlds could help reduce young, teenage swimmers from being over trained at such a young age.

8 years ago

As long as we are talking athlete ages, how do we go about getting FINA to recognize that age is actual age, not this phony baloney age as of January 1st (December 31st) thing.

David Berkoff
8 years ago

Hmm. No age limits for FINA executives but age limits for the people FINA is supposed to serve–the athletes. The hypocrisy of this organization goes on and on. And its esteemed President, Mr. Maglione, makes that statement that its better to have a ten year old Bahraini girl competing at the Worlds than “taking marijuana or cocaine” is just bewildering in its disconnectedness from reality and lack of understanding of Bahraini law. For Mr. Maglione to imply that ten year olds anywhere are predisposed to being drug addicts is plain stupid, let alone the fact that this is an athlete and athletes are less likely to engage in drug abuse. More importantly, Mr. Maglione clearly does not understand Bahrainian law… Read more »

Bryce R
Reply to  David Berkoff
6 years ago

Agreed- better swimming govern ourselves than to have fina intervene. Fina has a history of arbitrary legislation. Bunch of old politicos deciding every one else’s fate. We shouldn’t grant them that power.

8 years ago

There is a minimum age for Olympics too – and we can see how well that works (ie China, gymnastics). So I see no issues arising here.

8 years ago

Look, just because a pre-pubescent female swimmer from a nation that restricts rights in post-puberty females is swimming, and has a wish to go under 34 seconds long course for a 50FR, does not make that participation right. Is she “cute”? Sure. But since when do we rank world-class athletes based on “cute”? Isn’t that just a bit backward?

Worlds is not an event for participation: it is a competition to showcase a nation’s best athletes.

Missy might have done Trials at age 13-ish. Canada had Nancy Garapick at Olympics at 14 and she set a world record for 200BK at age 13. The difference here is that these two girls were FAST, capable and above average in skill, development,… Read more »

8 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…

TX Swim Mom
8 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?

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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