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Adam Peaty: Olympic champion says swimming is ‘stuck in 1970’

by ZwemZa on December 5th, 2018

Adam Peaty (Sky Sports)

Swimming’s international governing body must modernise and embrace new events or risk “constant battles” with the sport’s top competitors, says Olympic champion Adam Peaty.

The Briton is among a host of leading swimmers to have criticised Fina’s governance over the past year.

They have been particularly frustrated by their lack of involvement in key decision-making.

“It feels like we’re still in 1970,” Peaty, 23, told BBC Sport.

“[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.”

Last year, swimmers were angered by Fina’s ultimately successful bid to have the men’s 800m and women’s 1500m events entered into the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Many – including distance specialists who benefited from the move – insisted the sport would have appealed to more fans if additional 50m sprint distances, including Peaty’s breaststroke event, had been included instead.

Hungary’s three-time Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu called for the creation of a worldwide swimming union in 2017, claiming Fina was in “chaos” and possessed “leaders with no vision”.

The latest development came last month, when the inaugural International Swimming League (ISL) – in which Peaty and many of the sport’s biggest names were due to race – was cancelled.

Fina stated it was an unsanctioned event and threatened to ban any athletes who competed from next year’s World Championships.

However, the ISL organisers claim Fina ignored repeated requests to officially ratify the competition and only cancelled the event to protect the future of those athletes who risked suspension.

Although there were no clashes in terms of dates, the ISL is essentially a rival competition to Fina’s own World Cup Series, which Peaty feels is outdated.

“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,” he said.

“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 ISL] is where the sport needs to go and I think Fina should be behind it,” added Peaty. “Until then it’s going to be a constant battle between Fina and athletes.”

Australian Olympic champion Cate Campbell told reporters in her homeland this week “there are a lot of people getting very rich from swimming but it’s not the athletes”.

Peaty, an Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth champion, is backing the concept of a series, which would run from January to July and culminate in the World Championships.

“At the moment we have one major swim per year, but we need more,” said Peaty. “Look at other sports like triathlon, a few years ago they launched their professional World Series where athletes are paid handsomely.

“I’m lucky that I have good sponsors, but not all of the top swimmers get paid what they deserve given the effort they’re putting in.

“We need to have professional teams, salaries, pensions and by doing that and offering money, more kids will come into it thinking ‘I can make a career out of this’ which will only make the sport grow.”

Organisers of the ISL remain determined to launch their series after the 2019 World Aquatics Championships next summer.

“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,” Peaty told BBC Sport.

Fina did not respond to interview requests by BBC Sport relating to the criticisms they have faced in recent months.

Nick Hope | BBC Sport

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