World Aquatics
Sport
JurisdictionInternational
AbbreviationWA (World Aquatics)
Founded19 July 1908; 115 years ago (1908-07-19)
AffiliationAssociation of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF)
HeadquartersLausanne, Switzerland
PresidentHusain Al-Musallam[1]
ReplacedInternational Swimming Federation
Official website
www.worldaquatics.com

World Aquatics,[2] formerly known as FINA (French: Fédération internationale de natation; English: International Swimming Federation),[a] is the international federation recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)[3] for administering international competitions in water sports. It is one of several international federations which administer a given sport or discipline for both the IOC and the international community. It is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Founded as FINA (Fédération internationale de natation; International Swimming Federation) in 1908, the federation was officially renamed World Aquatics in January 2023.[2]

World Aquatics currently oversees competition in six aquatics sports: swimming, diving, high diving, artistic swimming,[4][5] water polo, and open water swimming.[6] World Aquatics also oversees "Masters" competition (for adults) in its disciplines.[6]

History

FINA was founded on 19 July 1908 in the Manchester Hotel in London, at the end of the 1908 Summer Olympics . Eight national federations were responsible for the formation of FINA: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary and Sweden.[7]

In 1973 the first FINA World Championships were staged in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, with competitions held in swimming, water polo, diving and synchronised swimming.[8]

In 1986 the first permanent FINA office was opened in Lausanne, Switzerland.[9]

In 1991 open water swimming was added to the program of the FINA World Championships.[10]

In 1993 the first edition of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) was staged in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.[11]

In 2010 FINA convened the first edition of the FINA World Aquatics Convention in Punta del Este, Uruguay.[12]

In 2013 high diving was added to the program of the FINA World Championships.[13]

In 2015 FINA staged the first dual FINA World Championships and FINA World Masters Championships in Kazan Russia, run consecutively in the one city for the first time.[14]

In 2018 FINA celebrated 110 years by inaugurating a new headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. [15]

On 12 December 2022, during the Extraordinary General Congress held in Melbourne, Australia, the Congress approved a new Constitution and voted to adopt a new name for the organisation, World Aquatics.[16]

Number of national federations by year:

Members

Further information: List of World Aquatics member federations

In June 2017, Bhutan became the 208th national member federation of FINA (now World Aquatics);[19] and on 30 November 2017, Anguilla became the 209th national member federation.[20] In 2023 the Philippines were removed from the list of member federations on the World Aquatics website.[21] At the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka in July 2023 athletes from the Philippines were still competing as 'Suspended Member Federation', however by the World Aquatics Junior Swimming Championships in September 2023, athletes from the Philippines were required to compete as 'Neutral Independent Athletes'.[22][23] Athletes from Kenya currently compete as 'Suspended Member Federation',[24] while athletes from Russia and Belarus are currently banned from competing, but the nation's are still listed as member federations.[25] World Aquatics also permits athletes not affiliated with a member federation to compete at events under the 'Athlete Refugee Team' banner.[26] Members are grouped by continent, and there are 5 continental associations of which they can choose to be a member:

Note: The number following each continental name is the number of World Aquatics members which fall into the given geographical area. It is not necessarily the number of members in the continental association.

Organisation & Structure

Under the new World Aquatics Constitution, ratified in December 2022, under clause 12, the following bodies are established to govern and administer World Aquatics:[27]

The World Aquatics Congress is the highest authority of World Aquatics and shall have the power to decide upon any matters arising within World Aquatics. A Congress is held either as an Ordinary Congress or as an Extraordinary Congress. A Congress may be held in person, by teleconference, by video conference or by another means of communication. Voting by correspondence (including email) and/or online is permitted. An Ordinary Congress shall be held every two (2) years, in principle at the site and on the occasion of the World Championships or of another major World Aquatics event.[28] An Extraordinary Congress shall be convened either by a decision of the Bureau or following a request in writing submitted to the Bureau by email by at least one fifth (1/5) of the Members.[29] Each Member shall be represented by up to two (2) duly appointed delegates with voting rights. Each of the twenty (20) elected members of the Athletes Committee shall have one (1) vote at a Congress. The Honorary President is chair with no voting power. Continental Organisations can appoint up to two (2) representatives who may attend the Congress as observers, without any voting power.[29]

The World Aquatics Bureau consists of the President and thirty-nine (39) Bureau Members:

Various committees and commissions also help with the oversight of individual disciplines (e.g. the Technical Open Water Swimming Committee helps with open water), or topic-related issues (e.g. the World Aquatics Doping Panel).[30] The organization signed an agreement with the Hungarian government in May 2023, planning to relocate its headquarters from Switzerland to Budapest, Hungary. However, the FINA Congress needs to approve unanimously in order for the relocation to be finalized.[31]

Current Bureau

As at 17 September 2019:[32]

President:  Husain Al Musallam, Kuwait  (since 2021)

First Vice President:  Sam Ramasay, South Africa

Second Vice President:  Matthew Dunn, Australia

Treasurer:  Dale Neuburger, United States of America

Vice President:  Juan Carlos Orihuela, Paraguay

Vice President:  Antonio Silva, Portugal

Vice President:  Jihong Zhou, People's Republic of China

Executive Director: Brent John Nowicki, United States of America

Presidents

Each presidential term is four years, beginning and concluding with the year following the Summer Olympics.

World Aquatics Presidents
Name Country Term
George Hearn  Great Britain 1908–1924
Erik Bergvall  Sweden 1924–1928
Émile-Georges Drigny  France 1928–1932
Walther Binner  Germany 1932–1936
Harold Fern  Great Britain 1936–1948 (*)
Rene de Raeve  Belgium 1948–1952
M.L. Negri  Argentina 1952–1956
Jan de Vries  Netherlands 1956–1960
Max Ritter  Germany 1960–1964
William Berge Phillips  Australia 1964–1968
Javier Ostos Mora[33]  Mexico 1968–1972
Dr. Harold Henning  United States 1972–1976
Javier Ostos Mora (2nd term)[33]  Mexico 1976–1980
Ante Lambaša  Yugoslavia 1980–1984
Robert Helmick  United States 1984–1988
Mustapha Larfaoui  Algeria 1988–2009
Dr. Julio Maglione  Uruguay 2009–2021
Husain Al-Musallam  Kuwait 2021–present

Events

The main competition venue at the most recent edition of the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan (2023)

World Aquatics Championships

Main article: World Aquatics Championships

World Aquatics' largest event is the biennial World Aquatics Championships, traditionally held every odd year, where all of the six aquatic disciplines are contested. A 50m length pool is used for swimming races.

The World Open Water Swimming Championships (also known as 'Open Water Worlds') is part of the World Aquatics Championships. Additional standalone editions of the Open Water Championships were also held in the even years from 2000 to 2010.

The World Masters Championships (also known as 'Masters Worlds) is open to athletes 25 years and above (30+ years in water polo) in each aquatics discipline excluding high diving and has been held as part of the World Aquatics Championships since 2015.[34] Prior to this, the Masters Championship was held separately, biennially in even years.

Prior to the 9th World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka in 2001, the championships had been staged at various intervals of two to four years. From 2001 to 2019 the championships were held biennially in odd years. Due to interruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions, and host venues withdrawing from hosting championships and World Aquatics withdrawing the rights to host championships, from 2022 to 2025 the championships will be staged in every year until resuming to biennial from 2025 onwards.

Stand-alone discipline competitions

World Aquatics also organizes separate tournaments and series for individual disciplines, including competitions for juniors.[35]

Discipline world tournaments

Discipline world series

Junior championships

World-level championships restricted to a younger age, with the age limit varying by discipline and gender:

Sport name changes

In 2017, FINA (now World Aquatics) officially renamed the sport of synchronised swimming as Artistic Swimming for its competitions to reflect the expansion in evaluation criteria in the sport to include not only synchronization but other elements such as choreography and artistic expression.[4][39]

Bans

Retired athletes

In relation to anti-doping rule violations, World Aquatics does enact suspensions on athletes who are retired from their respective sport at the time of ban implementation, with examples including Lithuanian Rūta Meilutytė (2019–2021) and Russians Artem Lobuzov (2021–2025), Alexandra Sokolova (2021–2025), and Artem Podyakov (2021–2025).[40][41]

Russia and Belarus bans

Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials were banned from every FINA (World Aquatics) event through the end of 2022.[42] FINA also cancelled FINA events in Russia, and banned Russian and Belarusian teams through to the 19th FINA World Championships Budapest 2022.[42] In March 2022, after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, FINA banned all Russians and Belarusians from competing at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships and withdrew the 2022 FINA World Swimming Championships (25 m) from being held in Russia.[43] This came after indefinitely banning athletes and officials of both countries from wearing the colours of their country, swimming representing their country with their country's name, and the playing of their country's national anthem in case an athlete from either country won an event.[44] Additionally, times swum by Russians at non-FINA competitions for the April to December 2022 time frame did not count for world rankings nor world records.[45] On the 4 September 2023, World Aquatics announced the capacity and criteria for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete at competitions as 'Neutral Independent Athletes'.[46]

Controversies

Transgender athlete restrictions

On 19 June 2022, FINA (World Aquatics) "committed to the separation of Aquatics sports into men's and women's categories according to sex" by a 71% vote, adopting a new policy on eligibility for the men's and women's competition categories.[47][48][49] This policy effectively bars all transgender women from competing in professional women's swimming, with the exception of athletes who "can establish to FINA's comfortable satisfaction that they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 (of puberty) or before age 12, whichever is later". FINA also announced the development of a separate "open" category for some events, to be determined by a working group over the next six months, so that "everybody has the opportunity to compete at an elite level".[50][51] The decision was criticized as "discriminatory, harmful, unscientific and not in line with the 2021 IOC principles" by LGBT advocacy group Athlete Ally.[52]

Vice President Zhou Jihong

In May 2022, New Zealand diving judge Lisa Wright revealed that during the 2020 Summer Olympics, FINA Vice President, Zhou Jihong, allegedly launched a verbal tirade at Wright at the conclusion of the men's 10m platform final. Wright alleged that Zhou verbally abused her for underscoring Chinese divers.[53] Diving New Zealand subsequently complained about the incident to FINA's Ethics Panel. As a result, Zhou was ordered by in a FINA Ethics Panel decision[54] to write a letter of apology to Wright.[54] A recommendation was also made by the Ethics Panel to disestablish Zhou's position as Diving Bureau Liaison for FINA. The FINA Ethics Panel stated that the incident during the men's platform final was "unfortunate" and led to a "misunderstanding mixed with misjudgement" between Wright and Zhou.[55]

In May 2022, former international diver, Olympic judge and previous member of FINA's Technical Diving Committee from New Zealand Simon Latimer revealed he had sent a whistleblower complaint[56] to FINA's Executive Director Brent Nowicki in December 2021 detailing Zhou's alleged "unethical behavior" which also contained allegations that Zhou has routinely coached Chinese divers during major events such as the Olympics and World Championships and she had manipulated judging panels in order to benefit Chinese athletes. Latimer claimed that Zhou's behavior was tarnishing the reputation of international diving and that she was acting in the interests of China rather than international diving as a whole.

Subsequent to Latimer's complaint, video evidence emerged online showing Zhou coaching Chinese divers during competition sessions at the 2020 Summer Olympics, a behavior considered unethical given her supposedly neutral role as a FINA Vice President and Diving Bureau Liaison.[57]

In July 2022, Latimer was not re-elected to FINA's Technical Diving Committee, and Zhou was one of the FINA Bureau Member's who had input in the selection process.[58] In 2022 FINA's By Laws[59] were updated to state that the Bureau Liaison position that Zhou holds should not interfere on the field of play during competitions and that individuals holding that position shall not act as a Team Leader or coach at international events including the Olympic Games.

Soul Cap

In 2021, FINA (World Aquatics) came under criticism for not approving the use at the Olympics of the Soul Cap, a brand of swimming caps designed for natural Black hair.[60] FINA said the caps did not fit "the natural form of the head" and to their "best knowledge the athletes competing at the international events never used, neither require … caps of such size and configuration."[60] After receiving criticism about racism, FINA announced that they would review their decision. Later in 2022, FINA decided to approve the Soul Caps for future FINA events (effective immediately).

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The official and original name prior to 2023 was in French.

References

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