The furor among some of the top swimmers in the world over FINA’s forced cancellation of the International Swimming League-affiliated Energy for Swim meet, scheduled to be held in Turin (ITA), after next week’s FINA World Short-Course Championships, has not subsided.
Britain’s Adam Peaty, the Olympic gold medalist in the 100 m Breaststroke and a five-time World Champion, has been at the forefront of the criticism and had plenty to say to BBC Sport this week.
“It feels like we’re still in 1970,” he said. “[FINA] need to listen to the athletes and hear what they want instead of saying: ‘You need it this way.’ The whole sport needs to change and that’s something I’m very passionate about.
“The current format isn’t working because no-one is watching and 90% of the world’s best athletes don’t turn up because there’s no prestige. If you build the prestige around an event, by building up rivalries and promoting the athletes, then people will want to race for gold, not just the money.
“It [the International Swimming League] is where the sport needs to go and I think FINA should be behind it. Until then it’s going to be a constant battle between FINA and athletes.
“At the moment we have one major swim per year, but we need more. Look at other sports like triathlon – a few years ago they launched their professional World Series where athletes are paid handsomely.”
FINA told the BBC that it was planning a new event in 2019 – which is also a World Championships year – to further raise the sport’s profile.
This is hardly the first time swimmers have demanded change, but Peaty says he is determined. “Obviously there are a lot of politics, but from an athletes’ perspective … whether it takes four years or 10 years, I think it’s going to happen.”