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.

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5 years ago

Okay, so first, **** off FINA, trying to monopolize swim meets, WTF?!?!

Go ahead FINA, ban Kolesnikov, Le Clos, Sjostrom, Peaty, Cseh, Proud, Romunchauk, and possibly more big names from the sport. I’ll laugh when all of a sudden all of your support from national federations suddenly disappears in favor of a new one…

Reply to  IM FAN
5 years ago

You probably don’t know what FINA abbreviation stands for. One way or another if national swimming associations coordinate their efforts internationally they form FINA.

5 years ago

This gawd damn title…

Tea rex
5 years ago

Captain, there’s an ice berg ahead!

Well, tell it to move! This is the FINA Titanic, we don’t change course for anything!

5 years ago

Despite the fact that ISL declared that this organization will not be in competition with FINA this Energy for Swim meet is definitely in the conflict with the FINA’s SC World Championships. Not many swimmers are willing participate in both meets. It would be practically ineffective because swimmers won’t have time to adjust for the difference in time zones and difference in climate. Plus so much traveling doesn’t help neither. No wonder that many leading European swimmers will choose to stay close to home.
There are no doubts that organizers of European meet perfectly understood the situation and foresaw that it would lead to the strong reaction from FINA.
In this particular case I’m not sure which side… Read more »

Reply to  Yozhik
5 years ago

FINA doesn’t seem to have a problem with weak participation in their various World Cup events, though. So why do they suddenly act desperate now? This is not the first time that some of the biggest stars have decided not to swim in the SC Worlds. Maybe some swimmers just don’t want to prepare for another big meet this late in the year?

Looking back at 2018 there’s already been various Nationals, Commonwealth, Jr. Euros, Euros, Pan Pacs, Jr. Pan Pacs, Asian Games, Youth Olympics and the World Cup stages. But, sure, ISL ruined SC Worlds with Energy for Swim…

Reply to  Stefan
5 years ago

FINA’s problem is that the best swimmers in the world have realised that ISL is the future of swimming and that they are choosing ISL instead of corrupt FINA.

Reply to  MR O
5 years ago

FINA is the federation of national swimming associations. And each association is not only for the purpose of providing professional swimmers with the means of living. Want you it or not but some kind of bureaucratic system is needed and you cannot get rid of the army of administrators that govern it.

Reply to  Stefan
5 years ago

How many people care about Olympic medals in tennis? It is great that we have high prestige grand slam tournaments but they don’t interfere with OG.

5 years ago

A picture of the president of FINA would of been appropriate here to keep that bad luck streak going

No Medal Mel
5 years ago

FINA licks toes and the worst part is, is that they like it

5 years ago

This is the most unified comment section I’ve ever seen!

Becky D
Reply to  WSCoach
5 years ago

Bobo better not comment, or it’ll break the streak.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  WSCoach
5 years ago

Until FINA finds this article

Swimmer Brent
Reply to  Old Man Chalmers
5 years ago

I think they have…they are the lone down vote on most of the posts… 🙂

5 years ago

This is outrageous and masochistic. These guys care more about themselves than they do the sport.

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 …

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