World Aquatics Changes Age-Eligibility for World Juniors, Athletes Ages 14-18 Eligible

World Aquatics has made changes to the age-eligibility cuts for the World Junior Championships. 

Under the new policy, released in the World Aquatics Handbook, “Age groups shall be between 14-18 years, as of 31st December in the year of competition, for both Boys and Girls.” This is a change from the previous rules, which allowed girls ages 14-17 and boys ages 15-18 by December 31st of the competition year to compete at the meet. 

The change will have an immediate impact, especially on the women’s side where 18 year-olds will now be allowed to compete. One of the biggest names who could potentially benefit from the change is Turkish swimmer Merve Tuncel, who swept the distance freestyle events at the 2022 World Junior Championships. Tuncel was 17 last season, meaning the 2022 meet would have been her last meet under the old rules. However, the extended age-group will allow her to compete at the 2023 meet, if she chooses to do so. 

This change could also significantly alter the championship seasons for some of the top juniors. In addition to the World Junior Championships, some swimmers could potentially add the World Championships, Commonwealth Games, Pan Pacific Championships, Pan American Games, or the European Championships, all of which typically occur between the months of June and September, depending on the year. In 2023, the schedule won’t be as tight, with the World Championships scheduled for July and World Juniors Scheduled for August. In addition, the Pan American Games will occur in late October.

Despite the change in age groups for the championships, the age requirement for World Junior Records remains the same. To be eligible for a World Junior Record, girls must be between the ages of 14 and 17, while boys must be between 15 and 18 during the calendar year of the swim. This could potentially impact relays at the Championships, where the addition of an older or younger swimmer could make a team ineligible for World Junior Records, despite still being eligible to compete at the Championship and break Championship Records. 

SwimSwam reached out to World Aquatics for more information on the decision and to ascertain if the ruling impacts World Junior Records, which previously aligned with World Junior Championship age groups, but they did not respond.

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15 days ago

The biggest impact will be on female swimmers like Tuncel who were born in 2005 and now find themselves eligible for the 2023 WJC in Israel.

I’ve also noticed Tuncel was born 1/1/2005 so she makes the cut by one day.

Who are the other 2005 born female competitors who are now eligible and potentially make an impact in junior competition this year?

Also the WJRs are going to be demolished by Summer McIntosh with an extra year of eligibility (2024).

Reply to  Boknows34
15 days ago

most likely born before 2005

15 days ago

Why aren’t WJRs

1. Retroactive to anyone who’s ever swam, so Thorpe/Phelps can hold some?

2. Simply U19 like soccer/any reasonable sport?

They aren’t Olympic Weightlifting record silly, but still have arbitrarily drawn lines

Reply to  Ragnar
15 days ago

1. It’s been explained to me (unofficially) that basically they couldn’t enact the “process” retroactively. Couldn’t ensure doping control, pool measurements, paperwork, etc. The response from the public is usually “okay then why not just accept ones from big meets where we know there was doping control?” and I think FINA always viewed that as just a different form of inconsistency that still has the potential for political battling.

Heck I’d be happy if they just kept the rules the same going forward and actually accepted all WJR swims that happen now.

Reply to  Braden Keith
15 days ago

Can’t the really prove Thorpe’s WJRs?? Come on…those were the official WR at the time…make a petition to update the list! It will have more meaning!

Reply to  GrameziPT
14 days ago

I don’t make the rules, and World Aquatics could literally not care less about my opinion on anything.

I do think it becomes confusing in another way to try and pull all-time WJRs, because you’ll have some pre-2014 times allowed and others not. “Okay this one was certified as a WR, so it counts, this one wasn’t, so it doesn’t.”

We’re going to start tracking both the official WJRs and the “all time” WJRs, so even if AQUA doesn’t recognize them, at least we can :-).

15 days ago

Please change the records to be actual age instead of age as of a certain date

Reply to  Teddy
15 days ago

Maybe age on the first day of the competition?

Reply to  Teddy
15 days ago

I know this is a popular idea, but this doesn’t actually change the net on swimmers disadvantaged, it just shifts which swimmers are disadvantaged.

The real flaw with “age of certain date” is that championship meets aren’t on the same date every year. By going year of birth, you at least make sure that when championship dates move, everyone still gets the same crack at the championship meet. If a championship is in August one year and June the next, a certain group of swimmers born in July don’t even get a chance, let alone “are a few months younger than their competitors.”

15 days ago

Summer McIntosh should enter WJR champs just for fun and rewrite meet records that won’t be broken for over a decade.

Reply to  Loeb
14 days ago

Useless perhaps, at the end of her 18 years, she will have so many world records, WR also WJ!

15 days ago

Finally. The 14-17 and 15-18 difference between boys and girls always seemed really stupid to me. Hopefully this can become a sweeping change for WJRs as well

Reply to  bubo
15 days ago

to be honest though it just means more of the junior records will be world records. Women mature earlier.

15 days ago

I am sure they need another meeting held in Paris or Switzerland or Monaco just to discuss the status world junior records stayoing in luxury hotels of course

15 days ago

Making the age range for records different from qualifying makes absolutely zero sense so I’m sure that’s what they did.

15 days ago

Is Tuncel Hungarian or Turkish?

Suzy Q
Reply to  Dan
15 days ago


About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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