FINA Rule Interpretation Could Outlaw Energy For Swim Meet

A clarified rule interpretation by FINA could bring serious consequences for athletes and organizing bodies of the Energy For Swim 2018 meet. Meet organizers say the interpretation is FINA’s attempt to “destroy” the meet in an attack on the International Swimming League (ISL).

The rule interpretation would essentially reclassify the Energy For Swim 2018 meet as an international-level competition that would need further FINA approval, without the time to obtain the approval before the meet happens. Sources tell SwimSwam the conflict could lead to sanctions on the meet hosts and on athletes who participate in the Energy for Swim event – even potentially disqualification from future World Championships or Olympic Games.

“They decided to destroy this event,” said Dmitriy Kachurovskiyformer president of the Ukrainian swimming federation and current ISL official. “That event – that many elite athletes from all over the world want to participate in – has become more and more popular, and I think they try to destroy it because they are afraid of it.”

Reclassifying International Meets

Documents obtained by SwimSwam show that FINA (the international federation governing aquatics) contacted FINA Bureau members to “request advice” as to an interpretation of the organization’s bylaws. The interpretation specifically targets whether meets are classified as “international” or “national.” Organizers of international competitions have to seek FINA approval at least six months before the start of the meet, while national competitions do not.

The ISL had originally planned a December competition that would emphasize fan entertainment, team-based competition and generous athlete compensation. But Dmitriy Kachurovskiyformer president of the Ukrainian swimming federation and current ISL official, says FINA made clear that it did not recognize the ISL, even going as far as to contact all national federations to announce it wouldn’t recognize an ISL-organized meet and that athletes who participated in such an event could face disqualification.

The December competition was eventually reformed into what was clearly labeled in meet invites as a “national competition where national and foreign swimmers will participate on individual basis not representing member federations, in respect of LEN and FINA rules.” The Italian swimming federation (FIN) would host the event, which is funded by the Energy Standard Group. The ISL isn’t technically connected to the Energy for Swim 2018 meet, though the ISL, Energy Standard Group and Energy for Swim event all have the same organizer: ISL Advisory Board Head Konstantin Grigorishin.

But when FINA contacted its Bureau, the rule interpretation specifically noted that “a competition which is conceptually designed to have a majority of foreign participants… is not a national competition.” That interpretation would count the Energy for Swim 2018 meet as an international competition, effectively legislating the meet out of existence because the six-month window to get FINA approval has long since passed.

Kachurovskiy said the move was an attempt to “destroy” the format of the ISL.

We asked FINA for comment, but have not yet received a response.

Potential Consequences

It’s unclear what the consequences would be for involved parties if the meet doesn’t ultimately get FINA approval. Kachurovskiy says the Energy for Swim 2018 organizers are continuing to prepare for the meet, hoping to work with FINA to get the meet approved.

If the meet isn’t approved, though, sources tell SwimSwam that athletes have been warned by their national federations that they may be caught in the middle of a game of chicken between FINA and meet organizers.

For his part, Kachurovskiy said he didn’t believe athletes could be disqualified from future international competitions for competing at an unapproved meet, based on precedent involving the international skating federation.

We have reached out to several involved athletes to learn more about what they have or haven’t been told, and what they would choose to do if the meet isn’t allowed. We will follow up with more commentary from them at a later date.

Kachurovskiy said that if the Energy For Swim meet doesn’t ultimately move forward, that organizers would still pay contracted athletes 50% of their appearance fees.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

FINA suck. If everyone already announced just turns up to Energy for Swim FINA won’t be able to ban them all. Call their bluff. FINA just ants to keep the swimmers in a position of weakness.

Reply to  Tim
2 years ago

FINA is desperate. They have understood that most professional swimmers have realised that ISL is the future of swimming. If FINA doesn’t start to give great swimmers a salary, then almost every swimmer will probably be in the ISL, focusing on the League Meets instead of Worlds and European Championship, Pan Pacs, Commonwealth etc.
Thanks to ISL many swimmers will get the opportunity to have a great economy for the rest of their life.


He Said What?
Reply to  MR O
2 years ago

You just know the President of FINA and his assistant gave you the two thumbs down. They are running scared!

Swimmer Brent
2 years ago

FINA is literal garbage. Banning all these athletes would just tank their own World Championships!

Tammy Touchpad Error
2 years ago

They better be afraid of it. FINA is useless. Hopefully the athletes decide to take a stand. I honestly don’t care about the olympics beyond it being the pinnacle of swimming. We can hold an 8 day meet anywhere and make it the pinnacle. Cmon athletes, stand for something! We will still view you as champions if you win.

2 years ago

FINA HQ after that list of names came out:

Guy 1: “Guys, guys. We’ve got a situation. Someone wants to run a swim event, with loads of top swimmers, in a fun way. Fans, serious and casual alike, will really like it.”

Guy 2: “You know our policy on stuff like this Dave, the international representatives of swimming cannot permit swimming to get better at the expense of its own pomposity and self importance. Let’s get the big book of rules, point out something vague and technocratic and needlessly ruin this for everyone.”

Guy 1: “Thanks Gary, back to the basics of being FINA. You always were good in a crisis”.

2 years ago

Hahaha I would love to see FINA try to ban like half the top athletes swimming at worlds next year that will definitely work.

2 years ago

Thanks Fina what’s next banning like European champs saying it’s not a world wide competition

2 years ago

FINA sucks the fun and life out of swimming and brings no value whatsoever to the sport. eff them

2 years ago

The economical situation as a full time Professional Swimmer needs to change. Is ISL what we have been waiting for? Hopefully.

FINA sucks and makes it really hard to be a professional swimmer.


About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »