The Federación Mexicana de Natación, Mexico’s governing body for swimming, has announced that it would replace its entire technical committee staff following disagreements over the water quality incident at Short Course Nationals in December, as well as the decision to withhold national record holder and Olympian Liliana Ibañez from the 2018 FINA Short Course World Championships.
In a letter obtained by SwimSwam dated January 8th, 2019, FNM president Kiril Todorov informed the presidents of the Mexican state swimming associations that members of the committee, including technical director Clementina Vidal, had been removed from their positions. He also said that new committee members will be announced shortly, at which time the presidents will convene to establish working guidelines and future outlook. The new technical swimming committee was just appointed in September.
Sources tell SwimSwam that members of the committee were terminated because they suggested that the 2018 Short Course National Championships be canceled midway through due to water conditions.
At Nationals, which ran from December 12th to 18th at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Zapopan, as many as 400 swimmers sought treatment due to issues related to poor water quality. Issues with the pool – the same one used for the 2011 Pan American Games – allegedly occurred due to a lack of maintenance under the previous sports administration for the state, which operates the pool and had left it “abandoned” for weeks prior to the meet.
Once the new administration took over, it was made aware on December 8th that the water had taken on a “green-ish” color. There was not enough time to drain the pool and refill it, so on December 11th, an outside company was brought in to treat the water. The company allegedly either did not use the correct amount of chemicals, or indicated that enough time had passed for the pool to be usable again, and the meet organizers were unaware that the chlorine levels were high enough to cause lung and skin irritation.
In addition to the pool issue, the technical committee did not want Ibañez to attend the Tokyo and Singapore World Cup stops, but Todorov overruled. However, Ibañez was not allowed to attend the 2018 FINA Short Course World Championships because she was told that she had to attend Nationals to compete for Mexico’s 2020 Pan American Games team, and Nationals overlapped with Worlds, allegedly causing discord within the federation.
Ibañez, a Texas A&M alum, had the No. 54-ranked long course 50 free time in the world in 2018 (25.15), and her 100 free time of 55.39 ranked No. 117.