The Bureau of European Aquatics (LEN) announced last week that its ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials from its events was extended indefinitely during an LEN Bureau meeting in late June.
LEN athletes and officials have been barred from competing since last March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was supported by Belarus. The update comes just a couple weeks before the inaugural U23 European Championships are set to begin in Dublin, Ireland.
Meanwhile, World Aquatics revealed last week that it won’t make a decision on the potential return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to international competition until “later in the year.” The global governing body established a task force to explore the possibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes returning to competition in April, which came one month after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommended that International Federations start reintroducing Russian and Belarusians as individual neutral athletes as long as they don’t support the war in Ukraine and aren’t affiliated with the military.
Up to 500 athletes from Russia and Belarus are expected to compete at the Asian Games next month in Hangzhou, China, where they’ll have a chance to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics but won’t be eligible for medals. However, the governing bodies of each of the 31 sports on the program for Paris 2024 will make the final call on whether they allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to take part at the Asian Games. So the clock is ticking for World Aquatics to deliver its decision.
In other news from the LEN Bureau meetings, the 2024 events calendar has been approved but won’t be publicly announced until later this month. Junior high diving was approved for 2024, and eligibility requirements for competitors at the LEN Masters’ Championships will now include a year of European residency. The Medical Committee also added three new members in Montenegro’s Predrag Dabovic, Ukraine’s Dorofieieva Olena, and Greece’s Georgios Marinos.
The inaugural U23 European Championships were initially slated to include 36 countries and 412 athletes, as previously announced in April, but there are now 38 countries and about 500 athletes entered. That includes unlikely competitors from the United States and South Africa, which will be sending swimmers aged 19-23 to the meet. Each country is also allowed to enter one swimmer aged 14-18 per event out of four allowed entries in each event.
The USA Swimming contingent is composed of seven males and seven females, all of whom qualified to represent the stars and stripes thanks to their finishes at the 2023 National Championship last month.
The women’s team is headlined by NCAA Champions Paige McKenna and Emma Sticklen, Short Course Worlds medalist Isabelle Stadden, and 2022 US National Champion Kaitlyn Dobler. Other swimmers on the roster include Texas sprinter Grace Cooper, USC standout Justina Kozan, and Louisville’s Julia Dennis.
The men’s team features 2022 National Champion Gabriel Jett, NAG record-holder Rex Maurer, NCAA runner-up Patrick Sammon, and SC World Championship swimmer Hunter Tapp. Age-group standout Aaron Shackell was also named to the team, joining his sister Alex in representing the US internationally this summer. His sister Alex just anchored the USA women’s 4×200 freestyle relay to a silver medal finish at the World Championships. N.C. State and LSU standouts Owen Lloyd and Mitch Mason will also be joining the US contingent.