2023 Martinique Open
- April 22-23, 2023
- Les Anses-d’Arlet, Martinique (a French territory in the eastern Caribbean Sea)
- Open water swimming
- 10km on Saturday, 5km on Sunday
- Qualifying event for 2023 World Championships
Update: Read about the exemption in the latest rules that could let swimmers such as Kirpichkinova avoid the new three-year waiting period.
Newly-certified French citizen Anastasia Kirpichnikova qualified for the 2023 World Championships with a runner-up finish in the women’s 5km open water selection event in Martinique on Sunday, but the Russia native’s eligibility remains in question for Fukuoka.
On Friday, French Swimming Federation (FFN) said it was confident that Kirpichnikova’s documents would be ready in time for Worlds this summer. The 22-year-old European champion has been living in France for the past four years, and the FFN began the process of seeking her new sporting nationality before World Aquatics (formerly FINA) approved a policy last month requiring a three-year waiting period between changes. Plus, the FFN said it had the support of Russia to secure her exit.
However, a World Aquatics spokesperson told SwimSwam on Sunday that the latest rules still apply in the case of Kirpichnikova, indicating that she might not be able to return to international competition until December of 2024 — three years after she last represented Russia internationally at the 2021 Short Course World Championships, where she took silver in the 800 free. That would render her ineligible for both Worlds and the Paris 2024 Olympics.
The addition of Kirpichnikova would be a big boost to France, which is relatively weak in women’s distance events. She would be France’s fastest woman so far this year in the 400 free (4:08.50), 800 free (8:27.98), and 1500 free (16:07.45). At the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, she became the first Russian woman to compete in both pool and open water events at the Olympics.
Kirpichnikova was only just officially naturalized as a French citizen on Friday before narrowly missing out on qualifying for Worlds in the 10km by only .22 seconds on Saturday. 23-year-old Lisa Pou triumphed in both the 5km and 10km, with 22-year-old Oceane Cassignol also clinching her spot in Fukuoka thanks to a second-place showing in Saturday’s 10km.
Update: Lisa Pou, winner of the 5k and 10k, has switched sporting nationalities from France to Monaco, meaning Kirpichnikova could represent France in both the 5k and 10k if deemed eligible for the World Championships this summer.
On the men’s side, 24-year-old Logan Fontaine edged 26-year-old Olympic medalist Marc-Antoine Olivier in the 10km while Olivier held off Fontaine in the 5km. Olivier trains with Kirpichnikova under coach Philippe Lucas, who has worked with Olympic medalists such as Sharon von Rouwendaal, Marc-Antoine Olivier, and Laure Manaudou.
The International Olympic Committee seems to be leaning toward allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete at the Paris 2024 Olympics as neutrals with no national flag or anthem in the wake of their countries’ invasion of Ukraine last February. Nevertheless, swimmers from both countries are set to miss Worlds this summer for the second year in a row.
Kirpichnikova isn’t the only Russian seeking to change switch sporting citizenships. Backstroke specialist Mark Nikolaev is applying for Australian sporting nationality, and it appears he would be immediately eligible if approved since his last time representing Russia internationally was back in 2019 at the World University Games.
The French daily “l’Equipe” is reporting that Lisa Pou will switch to Monaco (Casino, Billionaires’ yachts etc…). This also opens the 10K door for Kirpichnikova, should she be allowed to swim. Herr Bach, being so keen to see athletes participate, could edict a rule allowing citizens of countries condemned by a majority vote at the UNO to pick up a new flag.
With everything that has happened the last 10 days, it’s time for a Swimswam Breakdown.
What is she being punished for? For being born Russian? This is getting out of hand. You can’t punish people for their nationality. And what was the punishment for US athletes when the United States illegally invaded Iraq which led to the deaths of over 1m people? Is there a double standard here?
This particular instance has absolutely nothing to do with the Russia-Ukraine situation. The three year rule applies to all athletes who are changing sporting citizneship.
I feel it should be different because she has changed her actual citizenship as well? If not tough luck I guess.
As I have said many times before it should be two per nation plus wildcards for any world ranked top 16 not already picked.
You cannot represent a new country without being an actual citizen of that country, so that piece of information doesn’t really set her apart.
Wow! Tough decision. If confirmed, it’s double punishment for Kirpichnikova. Two more years without competition and above all missing the Olympic Games in Paris. I wouldn’t be surprised if that decision led her to end her career.
Well that means Santo can’t swim for the US either
Kayla Sanchez also comes to mind
I suspect the case may be that those who started the process after the new rules came into effect will be bound by them, but those who filed the move before (Sanchez) will be eligible in 2024.
We’ll gladly have Kayla back! 🇨🇦 🥇
It looks like Santo lives for free in your head. How is your life affected if he will compete again for US? Sad….
Santo didn’t compete internationally after Tokyo Olympics, so his ending period could end just before Paris.
The FFN press releases looked designed to put pressure on World Aquatics, and it now seems that was the case. It’s a very sad situation, but there doesn’t really seem to be a compelling reason for the new rules not to apply to Anastasia Kirpichnikova.
If Russian athletes end up being able to compete in Paris, where does that leave Kirpichnikova now? It feels like there is potential for an extremely unjust and messy situation to unravel here.
The FFN usually is a very cautious federation and is not one to put pressure on anyone. I don’t think they would have communicated in a public way on this topic if they hadn’t been sure.
The article says:”Plus, the FFN said it had the support of Russia to secure her exit.”
What does it mean? Is this the way Russia wants to punish Kirpichnikova for leaving Russia, by keeping her out of Olympic Games?
I thought it was reported elsewhere that an application had been made (or somehow the process was put in motion) before the rule change. If that’s the case then I would expect the old rules to apply.
Actually, to be honest I think that the rule change shouldn’t have come in immediately. It WA was aware that swimmers were currently in the process of changing nationalities, it seems unfair to change the rules mid-process.
It may be a mistranslation, but the original Russian media report that quotes Salnikov suggests that Kirpichnikova only very recently notified the Russians of the switch and that the procedure started after the new rules came into effect. French reports failing to clarify this point is a bit of a clue imo.
Ah fair enough. In that case it’s tough luck I guess. But disappointing considering she clearly has a strong connection to France and isn’t just nation-shopping
@Dee. I don’t speak Russian and I trust you but the French federation warned the Russian federation more than one year that Kirpichnikova wanted to switch her sport citizenship. It’s not recent and before the new rules of WA. Now, she got the French citizenship on April 21st after the new rules were announced. However it seems normal to me that the process of acquisition of a new citizenship is a long process.