Who Governs Swimming?

Who Governs Swimming?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Cornel Marculescu has run FINA with a strong vision for 35 years – and some say with an iron fist. The FINA Family is going to greatly miss his vision, energy and ability to keep everyone working collectively to grow aquatic sports and its sponsors.

Under his leadership, FINA has exploded in size, media exposure, marketing prowess, and revenue growth. Women’s water polo, marathon swimming and high diving have been added as new disciplines and several new race distances and professional circuits have established.

Marculescu represented Romania in water polo at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, helping his team finish fifth place. A member at the Romanian team in 165 international games between 1958 and 1970, Marculescu then became a coach and official. As a referee between 1970 and 1980, he officiated the 1972 Munich Olympic water polo final. He then served as the Technical Director of the Romanian Swimming Federation, moving in 1977 to his role as Technical Director for the Spanish Swimming Federation. In 1986, Marculescu led the success of the FINA World Championship in Madrid before he managed the first permanent office of FINA when it opened in Lausanne in 1987. Since then, he has served as FINA’s Executive Director where he has received many honors including the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s Paragon Award for outstanding contribution to Aquatics.

Marculescu’s shadow is long and wide throughout FINA.

I remember when USA Swimming was thinking about proposing my name as a candidate for the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee,” recalls Steven Munatones. “I had to be introduced to Cornel at the right time and right place, by the right person in order to create a non-confrontational situation where Cornel could size me up and pass muster. I didn’t need to demonstrate any particular knowledge, experience or expertise in the world open water swimming; rather, as Cornel told me, ‘People want to work with people who they like – never forget that.’ Evidently, the USA Swimming official who made the introduction understood how the FINA game was played and introduced me at the appropriate time to Cornel. We exchanged simple pleasantries, I offered him compliments about his work, and the next thing I knew, I was asked to serve on the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee.”

While there seemed to be a lot of ‘palace intrigue‘ on the inside of the various committees and responsibilities, I recall that Cornel always lorded over the decisions in the open water community, whether or not he was physically present in the room. At the committee level, we always had to very carefully consider Cornel’s impressions and opinions of any decision that was made. His ability to lord over open water swimming while also concurrently guiding pool swimming, diving, high diving, water polo and artistic swimming is nothing short of superhuman. He was perpetually present, literally or figuratively. While he and I differed on the safety protocols of the sport, I recall two instances where he surprisingly agreed with my many, many suggestions.

The first was the hiring of Colin Hill. I knew open water swimming needed someone professional like Colin. Meanwhile, Cornel was looking for an outside resource who had marketing and media expertise. I suggested Colin and Cornel jumped on the opportunity to hire one of the most creative and relentlessly passionate people in the sport of open water swimming.

The second was the implementation of split timing. I knew the sport would be more interesting if split times were taken and announced during a race. Coaches and athletes would benefit from precisely knowing how fast they swam on each lap. Jason Moody of Regetta Timing stepped up to the plate and implemented the first split timing system at the 6th FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships held in Roberval, Canada. Cornel freed up FINA’s budget for that inclusion and all that equipment. I have to thank him for that, one of many innovations that he has almost single-handedly reviewed and approved over the course of his 35-year reign at the top of FINA.”

Marculescu’s successor is his right-hand man Marcela Saxlund Medvedev, formerly his deputy executive director. Medvedev will work closely with members of the FINA Bureau that sits on top of the FINA pyramid that includes the following 26 voting members and non-voting members:

The FINA President is Dr. Julio Maglione from Montevideo, Uruguay. He was Member of the FINA Bureau from 1984-1988, Vice-President (1988-1992) and Honorary Treasurer from 1992-2009. Maglione was an IOC Member from 1996-2015, and became an Honorary Member in 2015. He was President of the South American Swimming Confederation (1976-1978), Honour President (1984), and President of the Amateur Swimming Union of the Americas (1979-1983 and 1995-1999). He is the Honorary President of PanAm Sports and has been the President of the Uruguayan Olympic Committee since 1987. He headed the Uruguayan Swimming Federation (1969-1985). In Uruguay also, Maglione was President of the National Committee of Physical Education and Sport of Uruguay (Ministry of Sports) (1985-1990 and 1995-2000) and Vice-Minister of Public Health (1991-1992). He has received the FINA Gold Pin; ANOC Order of Merit (1994), IOC Centennial Trophy (1994), NOC gold insignia, Royal Order of Merit in Sport of the Spanish Minister of Education and Science (1996), Legion of Honour of the French Republic (1998), Order of the Chinese Olympic Committee (1999), Order “Bernardo O’Higgins”, Chile (2000), distinction of the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee (2001), Honorary Citizen of Montevideo (2007). Maglione was the national champion and record holder in the 100m and 200m butterfly and breaststroke (1949-1954). He swam for Uruguay at various international events, such as the Latin American Games and the Pan American Games in Mexico (1955).

FINA First Vice President Captain Husain Al-Musallam of Kuwait since July 2017, after serving as Vice-President for many years. He initially joined the FINA Bureau in 1996. He received the FINA Gold Pin in recognition to his contribution to swimming at all levels throughout his life. Captain Al-Musallam joined the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Executive Board in January 2003 and is the OCA General Director (since 2005). Al-Musallam was a swimmer on the Kuwaiti national team where he competed in all Pan-Arab, Asian and World Championships from 1974 to 1976.

Sam Ramsamy from Durban, South Africa is the FINA Second Vice President since July 2017, after serving many years as Vice-President (2004-2017) and Bureau member (1996- 2004). Ramsamy was elected a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1995 and served on the IOC Executive Board (2006-2014). Ramsamy was president of Swimming South Africa (1991-1996) and the National Olympic Committee of South Africa (1991-2004). He was a member of the Organising Committee for the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. He was awarded the Order of Ikamanga by the South African Government. Ramsamy has over 60 years of experience in sport and was an athlete in several sports; athletics, football and swimming. He holds a diploma of the Carnegie College of Physical Education, Leeds and is an Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Leeds Metropolitan, Surrey and Toronto.The FINA Honorary Treasurer is Pipat Paniangvaith of Bangkok, Thailand who was a long-time FINA Bureau member before becoming FINA Honorary Treasurer in 2009. Paniangvait has been the CEO of Thai President Foods Public Company since 2011. He is an Advisor of the Board of Directors at President Rice Products Public Company since April 2013 and serves as President of Thai President Foods Public Co. Ltd. since 1999. Paniangvait won gold medals both in local and regional leagues like the Asian Games.

The FINA Vice President is Paolo Barelli from Rome, Italy since 2017. He initially joined FINA in July 2009 when he was named Honorary Secretary (2009-2017). Barelli was re-elected Ligue Européenne de Nation (LEN) President for a second term in May 2016, a role he has been serving since 2012. An Italian Senator, Paolo Barelli is also President of the Italian Swimming Federation since 2000. Barelli is a swimmer who broke Italian records in several distances 23 times, including the 100m butterfly and relays. He swam for Italy at the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics, where he reached the Olympic final with the 4 × 200m freestyle relay (7th) and the 4 × 100 m medley relay (8th). In 1975, he won the 100m butterfly at the 1975 Mediterranean Games (58.10).Matthew Dunn of Sydney, Australia is a FINA Vice President and a FINA Bureau Member for Oceania since 2012 (and Vice-President since 2019). Prior to this role, he was a member of the FINA Athletes Commission, for which he is now the Bureau Liaison. Dunn is a Board Member of the Oceania Swimming Association (OSA) and Board Member of Swimming Australia. He represented Australia in every major swimming event from 1991 to 2000 including three Olympic Games and two FINA World Championships. He swam to four world records, eight World Short Course gold medals, six Pan Pacific Championship gold medals, six Commonwealth gold medals, and 33 National Australian titles. Dunn was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2009 for his contributions. He has extensive experience in commercial property development having worked for the world’s largest industrial property company and large private developers before focusing on his own developments.

Dale Neuburger is a FINA Vice President from New York, USA. He is serving his fourth term as FINA Vice President. In 2015, he was elected as a member of the FINA Executive. He is also Chairman of the FINA Development Commission (since 2009), FINA Bureau Liaison to the Technical Swimming Committee (since 2005), and Chairman of the FINA Technical Swimming Commission. He served as Technical Delegate for Swimming in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games and the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Neuburger was the President of the Union Americana De Natacion (UANA) between 2015 and 2019. Neuburger is currently a Board member of U.S. Aquatic Sports, USA Swimming, and the USA Swimming Foundation, and previously served as President of United States Aquatic Sports, President of USA Swimming, and Chairman of the Board of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He was a Board member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and a member of its Executive Committee, serving as chairman of the National Governing Bodies (NGB) Council.

Khaleel Al Jabirm from Qatar has served as a FINA Bureau Member since 2017. Since 2016, Al Jabir is Vice-President of the Asian Swimming Federation (AASF) and the Sports Affair Director at the Qatar Olympic Committee since 2007. He was Sports Director of the Asian Games in 2006 in Doha and was the Chef de Mission of the Qatar Delegation at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.

Taha Al-Kishry of Oman, originally from Kuwait, has served as a FINA Bureau Member since 2017. Al-Kishry has served in many key roles in Arab and Asian sport. He currently is a member of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Sports Committee since 2008 and the Director General of the Asian Swimming Federation (AASF) since 2009. He is the Chairman of the Arab Swimming Federation. Since February 2009, Al-Kishry is the Oman Swimming Association Chairman and the Oman Olympic Committee Secretary General since April 2013.

Algernon Cargill from Nassau, Bahamas has been a FINA Bureau Member since 2017, and has served as a FINA official in the open water. Cargill is an Executive Member of the Union American de Natacion (UANA) and the current President of the Bahamas Swimming Federation.

Errol Clarke of Barbados has served as a FINA Bureau Member since 2013. He was previously a member of the FINA Technical Swimming Committee (2009-2013). In 2009, he was awarded the Certificate of Recognition by FINA for his work focused on the development of Aquatic Sports in the Caribbean region. He served as a judge at many competitions including the 1st Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010. Clarke was elected Secretary Treasurer of Union Americana de Natacion (UANA) in 2015 (until 2019), after being its Vice-President from 2007-2015. He is the former President of the Central America and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation (CCCAN), the first English-speaking Caribbean representative to be elected President of CCCAN. Clarke used to head Barbados Amateur Swimming where he now sits as a Council Member. A civil engineer by profession, Clarke started his career as a club coach and administrator and was the first official from the English-speaking Caribbean to official in swimming at an Olympic competition.

Dimitris Diathesopoulos from Peiraias, Greece has been a FINA Bureau Member since 2009, and served as the FINA Bureau Liaison for water polo (2009-2017). He was a Water Polo referee for various FINA and LEN events. Diathesopoulos is Vice-President of the Ligue Européene de Natation (LEN) and the President of the Confederation Mediterraneene de Natation (COMEN). He is the President of the Hellenic Swimming Federation and a Member of the National Olympic Committee of Greece. Diathesopoulos was a volleyball player in his youth and is a lawyer who graduated from Faculty of Law, University of Athens. 

Dr. Mohamed Diop from Dakar, Senegal has been a FINA Bureau member since 2013, after serving as a FINA Masters Committee member. Diop was elected in 2016 General Secretary and Treasurer of the Confederation Africaine de Natation (CANA), after serving as President for Zone 2 from 2004-2012 and Vice-President from 2012-2016. Diop is the Senegalese Swimming Federation (FSNS) President (2016-2020) and was also involved as a member of the Director Board in the Comité National Olympique Sportif Senegalais (CNOSS) from 2004-20012 as well as President of the Medical Commission of the latter. He was Vice-President of the World Olympians Association (2010-2017) and Vice-President of the Senegal Anti-Doping Agency (ONADS). Diop was part of the Senegalese National Team from 1979-1990 (captain from 1987-1990) and took part in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic Games and 1994 FINA World Championships. He studied medicine at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Darka.

Zouheir El Moufti from Maarif, Morocco has been a FINA Bureau Member since 2017, but initially joined the Federation in 2009 as FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee member (until 2013). He was chief referee and referee at several FINA Open Water Swimming World Championships and Olympic Games from 2009 to 2015. He has also acted as technical and safety delegate in several stages of the FINA 10 km Marathon Swimming World Cup and lectured at many FINA Schools. He was a judge at the 2008 Olympics, 2006 World Championships, 2006 Rio de Janeiro, and 2005 World Championships. El Moufti is Confederation Africaine de Nataion (CANA) Technical Open Water Swimming Committee Chairman since 2009 and was re-elected in 2016 until 2020. In Morocco, El Moufti was General Secretary of the Federation Royale Marocaine de Natation (1987-2009), where he is now the General Director. He currently is the General Secretary of the Union Arabe de Natation (ASC) since 2006.

Mario Fernandes from Luanda, Angola has served as a FINA Bureau Member since 2017 and is a Bureau Member of the Confederation Africaine de Natation (CANA), as well as Vice-President to zone IV. Fernandes is two-term President of the Angolan Swimming Federation (FAN), after serving as Vice-President for many years. He is a member of the Angolan Olympic Committee. Fernandes debuted his career as a member of the Angolan Swimming National Team.Mario Fernandes was born on January 2, 1971, in Luanda, Angola. He is a cardiologist who graduated from the Medical School at Agostinho Neto (University of Luanda) and the Pulido Valente Hospital in Lisbon. 

Tamas Gyarfas from Budapest, Hungary was elected to the FINA Bureau in 2009 and is currently member of the Executive Committee. He was a FINA Vice-President and Executive Member. Gyarfas is currently the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) Treasurer. He is one of the most successful entrepreneurs and TV producers in Hungary, and was elected President of the Hungarian Swimming Association in (1993-2016) and is a two-term Vice-President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee. Gyarfas played a crucial role in the organization of the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest as co-Chairman of the Organising Committee. Considered as one of the most promising water polo players of his time Gyarfas joined the Hungarian Junior National Team in his teenage years.

Penny Heyns from Springs, South Africa has been a FINA Bureau Member since 2017 after serving as the FINA Athletes Committee Chairperson. She previously fulfilled the role of Honorary Secretary of the FINA Athletes Committee for many years. Heyns won South Africa’s first gold medal in 44 years at the 1996 Olympic Games. She was one of the world’s greatest female breaststroker of the 20th century by becoming the only woman in Olympic history to win both the 100 and 200m breaststroke in 1996, a bronze medal in 2000, and by breaking 14 individual world records during her career.

Romani Katoa from the Cook Islands has served as a FINA Bureau member since 2019 and is the Vice President of the Cook Islands Swimming Federation.

Andrey Kryukov from Kazakhstan has been a FINA Bureau Member since 2013. Kryukov is Vice-President of the Asia Swimming Federation (AASF) and is the Secretary General of the Swimming Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as the Kazakhstan Olympic Committee Vice-President. He sits on the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Rules Committee and on the Association National Olympic Committee (ANOC) Medical Commission. Kryukov is a WADA Foundation Board Member who started his career as a water polo player in 1982 and joined the National Team of the USSR in 1986. He then pursued his career as a water polo coach (1995-1996). He is the President of the Almaty National Aquatic Sports Centre since 2003, after being Executive Manager, Executive Director and Director General successively between 1997-2003.

Margo Mountjoy from Oshawa, Canada has been a member of the FINA Bureau since 2009 and the Liaison to the FINA Sports Medicine Committee since 2009, a Committee she initially chaired from 2001-2009. Mountjoy was Union Americana de Natacion (UANA) Vice-President and Liaison to Artistic Swimming. She is the Chair of the ASOIF Medical Consultative Group and a member of the IOC Medical Commission Games Group. Mountjoy is a member of the WADA Health Medicine + Research Committee as well as the Canadian, USADA and World Rugby Anti-doping Review Boards. Her areas of research focus on elite aquatic athlete health and safety. In Canada, Mountjoy is the national team physician for Athletics, Triathlon and Wrestling, and formerly for Synchro Canada. Mountjoy was an artistic swimmer who competed internationally for Canada from 1975-1980. Mountjoy is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Family Medicine at McMaster University where she teaches sports medicine.

Juan Carlos Orihuela Garcete from Asuncion, Paraguay has served as a FINA Bureau Member since 2017. Orihuela is the President of the South American Confederation of Swimming (CONSANAT) and is the President of the Paraguayan Swimming Federation and an Executive Committee Member, Secretary General, and Sports Director of the Paraguayan Olympic Committee (COP). He is the Autonomous University of Asuncion Sports Director and holds the same position for the Paraguayan Olympic Academy.

Donald Rukare from Mulago, Uganda has been a FINA Bureau Member since 2015. He is a former Member of the FINA Masters Committee (2013-2015) and was elected Vice-President of the Confederation Africaine De Natation Amateur (CANA) in 2013, a position he still holds in 2020. Rukare is the current President of the Uganda Swimming Federation and the General Secretary of the Uganda Olympic Committee (since 2013). An arbitrator at the International Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), Rukare was a national swimmer who represented Uganda at national, regional and international championships, including the 2014 FINA World Masters Championships.

Vladimir Salnikov from Leningrad, Russia has served as a FINA Bureau member since 2013. Considered as one of the greatest swimmers of his generation, nicknamed the Monster of the Waves, Salnikov is the Russian Swimming Federation President (since 2009). Salnikov is a 4-time Olympic champion. He claimed three gold medals at the 1980 Olympics and a fourth at the 1988 Olympics. He was the first person to swim the 1500m freestyle under 15 minutes. His titles include four World Championship gold medals, four European Championship gold medals, and one European Championship silver medal.

David Sparkes OBE of Great-Britain has been a FINA Bureau Member since 2017 and previously was a Member of the FINA Disciplinary Panel. In 2016, Sparkes was elected General Secretary of the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN), a role he currently serves. Sparkes was British Swimming CEO for 23 years (from 1994-2017) and is a Board Member of the British Olympic Committee (BOA). He was also heavily involved in the Amateur Swimming Association (Swim England), first as a full Council Member, and then as Chief Executive. Sparkes was a swimmer and became a qualified national coach and technical official in swimming.

Daichi Suzuki from Narashino, Japan has served as a FINA Bureau member since 2017. Suzuki is Vice-President of the Asia Swimming Federation (AASF) and was the former President of the Japan Swimming Federation (2013 – 2014) where he fulfills the role of Honorary Advisor. He is also the President of the World Olympians Association of Japan. Suzuki was an elite swimmer and the 100m backstroke gold medalist at the 1988 Olympics.

Erik van Heijningen is from Vootschoten, the Netherlands and has served as a FINA Bureau Member since 2013 and is also the Liaison of the FINA Doping Control Review Board (DCRB). Van Heijningen used to serve as Vice-President of the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) from 2008-2017 where he previously a Member. An ambassador of the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation, Van Heijningen was the President’s organization from 2001-2017. Van Heijningen was a water polo player.

Zhou Jihong from Hubei, China has been a FINA Bureau Member since 2015 and initially joined FINA as an Athletes Committee member (1998-2001), a Committee she has chaired since 2014. She was a member of the FINA Technical Diving Committee (2001-2009), which she later chaired (2001- 2016). Zhou chaired for six years the Technical Diving Committee of the Asian Swimming Federation (AASF) and is currently Vice-President and Diving Liaison of the AASF. Zhou was Coach of the national Diving Team of China from 1990-1997 and has been the Team Leader since 1998. She is currently the Chairperson of the Chinese Swimming Association (CSA). Zhou was an elite diver who a bronze medal in the 10m platform event at the 1982 FINA World Championships, a gold medal in the 10m platform event at the 1983 FINA World Cup, and a gold medal in the 10m platform at the 1984 Olympics.

Mustapha Larfaoui is currently the FINA Honorary Life President and was the longest-serving President in the FINA history, being firstly elected in 1988 and continuing until 2009. A former water polo player, he was the founder of the Algerian Swimming Federation and was also part of the officials that created Algeria’s National Olympic Committee. He created the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), the use of temporary pools, the inclusion of women’s water polo and marathon swimming in the Olympics, the instauration of prize money for the best athletes, professional series in diving, water polo and synchronized swimming, and an increase in commercial and broadcast rights.

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