Representatives from USA Swimming and Swimming Australia have both told SwimSwam they are not planning to attend the first-ever “Youth Programme” FINA recently announced the week before Short Course World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
The Youth Programme, a new addition to the Short Course Worlds festivities, will bring together top junior athletes from every country participating int he Doha competition for a 5-day camp. 14- to 16-year-olds are eligible (technically athletes born in 1999 or 2000), with each federation able to bring up to one boy and one girl, plus at least one national-level coach.
The camp isn’t exactly directed towards federations like USA Swimming or Swimming Australia, as young athletes in those countries typically have ample access to high-level coaching. The program would appear to help both swimmers and coaches from smaller, less-swimming-developed nations learn more about the technical work and training methods being used in other places. Still, as SwimSwam’s Braden Keith wrote last week about the program, FINA generally needs a “buy-in” from both its big and small federations in order to keep the program running.
The FINA description of the program is adamant that each nation bring its “top swimmers.” (You can read FINA’s description on its website here), and if the top swimmers are not able to attend, the next swimmers in the “national rankings” should be chosen instead. That’s one reason USA Swimming and Swimming Australia might be hesitant to make a commitment at this point. Though the terminology of “top swimmer” is still fairly vague, neither federation would want to commit its best young swimmers to an event that is brand-new and still an unknown.
Cost wouldn’t appear to be a concern for either federation. For this year, at least, FINA is offering to pay travel expenses and 6 nights in a hotel for athletes and coaches, though that’s a trend that will take some work to keep up in coming years.
Both USA Swimming and Swimming Australia could certainly change their minds on the program in the coming months, but for now, it appears FINA’s new addition will move forward without two of its most notable member federations.