FINA Future Or Future Without FINA? That Is The Question As We Welcome Call For Review

Lane lines - by Patrick B Kraemer

Editorial: FINA has been offered an olive branch. It should take it – and be grateful for the chance to avoid a conflict with its membership that, ultimately, it cannot win. Time to work with its membership – not against them – as world swimming asks: “repair or replace”

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Editorial: FINA has been offered an olive branch. It should take it – and be grateful for the chance to avoid a conflict with its membership that, ultimately, it cannot win. Time to work with its membership – not against them – as world swimming asks: “repair or replace”


Clive Rushton

I agree with everything you say. I agree with everything Bill says.

“Review is the best offer FINA could ever get.” Absolutely. But will they even respond? I doubt it.

Can you imagine someone like Chuck Wielgus staying silent during the past few months if all this criticism and complaint has been directed at US Swimming? Not a chance. Can you imagine any national federation or club staying silent under the same onslaught? But FINA – total nada.

I sincerely hope I’m wrong but I only see a tightening of the circling of the wagons rather than an opening of the kimono (sorry aboutbthe mixed metaphors!)

Craig Lord

Clive, my gut feeling is the same as yours. They have been given a chance … the very least they should do is to respond and say that they will consider it. A failure to do so would tell the world of swimming precisely what it needs to know: time to move on.

Lawrie Cox

A timeline is needed to whether there will be a response or move on. I like many here would hope for a positive reaction to the offer the alternate is a massive upheaval.
However enough is enough if no response or a blank refusal. Would be interested in thoughts what is a reasonable period for a response? One of the first actions ought be withdrawal of the Bureau proposals to the Constitution.

Craig Lord

Lawrie, I think a willingness to engage should be shown this week, even if only through short statement either in response to my media inquiry (unlikely) or directly with Bill Sweetenham (more likely) and those I would expect to stand with him anytime soon (WSCA, ASCA etc but hopefully some athletes too – for this is definitively in their interest).
Certainly by last week in March if there has been no response, the next move, if there is to be one, is fairly obvious – and as you suggest, upheaval will follow, along with not a little pain.
I agree with your last thought – a review should start as soon as possible alongside an agreement that there is a freeze on all constitutional moves, prize givings and other such ‘new decisions; apt to land FINA in further mess. Of course, day to day business and arrangements would have to proceed as normal during any review period.


Am I too cynical in thinking that even if FINA agreed to an independent review nothing would come of it? FINA would hobble the review from the outset by limiting the terms of reference and so the full picture of a mediocre and undemocratic organization would never come out.

Of course, FINA is so poorly run that even a limited review will find that the sport needs better stakeholder representation and improved governance. However, the skilled bureaucrats and politicians within FINA will easily manoeuvre around such recommendations. They will say how they welcome constructive suggestions for change, they will set up committees made up of compliant appointees …….. and before you know it everyone will have forgotten about the review.

As Bill Sweetenham says, there are too many people within FINA who are comfortable in their roles. Meaningful change never happens in such an environment.

Craig Lord

Not too cynical longstroke – any review agreed with coaches and others would have to include agreement on the professionals who would run the independent review and make recommendations. This would not be a FINA choice; as you suggest, any choice from within or even connected to within would not be seen (nor would it be) independent. I see this offer as coaches saying ‘last chance’ … do you want to talk or not.

Steve Levy

The best I can offer is that a bureaucracy will fight until either the bitter end or when the lawyers tell them to stop.

Read about Curt Flood and how he changed Major League Baseball:

While this is all about swimming, it is also beyond swimming.

Steve Levy

If you like videos, watch this:

Craig Lord

Thanks Steve – I hope this serves to inspire athletes (and others) to think about how they could help to make swimming a better place at the level of governance


Good work as ever Craig. As someone who follows a range of sports it seems to me that this problem of inept governing sports bodies is widespread. I’m afraid that you touched on the reason – most of these associations are populated by member countries who have little real stake in the sport in question. As you rightly say, only about 20 countries are really involved in competitive swimming at the highest level but officials from other countries routinely have influence over sport in which they have little real involvement. It’s similar as with FIFA which selects the World Cup with an exec committee containing members from countries that have zero hope of ever even being in the World Cup. Democracy only works if the voters have a stake in the result. If they don’t then corruption is the inevitable result.

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