Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick
2016 Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Ryan Murphy announced via his Facebook page his intention to swim at the Energy for Swim competition to be held in Italy December 20 and 21. The event will be held one week after the World Short Course Championships, which Murphy will be in attendance for in China.
This event will see the likes of swimming superstars Sarah Sjostrom, Emily Seebohm and Adam Peaty in attendance, despite FINA threatening to hand out suspensions to any athletes competing in the non-sanctioned event.
Officials of the International Swim League have said they attempted to gain approval, but FINA refused to acknowledge their bid as the new event would be a rival to their own World Cup series.
FINA has stated outside events must seek approval six months in advance and that anyone competing next month could face a subsequent ban.
USA Swimming released a statement to Swimming World about the participation of its athletes in the event with the knowledge of what FINA is threatening to do.
“We would like to remain positive and hope that all sides can come to a resolution regarding the proposed competition in Torino, Italy. Our priority is to offer as many opportunities for our athletes as possible, while also remaining compliant with FINA rules. We have endeavored to provide U.S. athletes with factual information regarding the current state of the competition, and any possible associated challenges as shared by FINA.”
It is unclear at the moment if the competing athletes will be suspended by FINA, meaning they would be out of the 2019 World Championships next year in Korea. Murphy has already qualified for the meet for Team USA, so there are a lot of questions surrounding the legitimacy of FINA’s threats.
From FINA’s point of view, it would be very difficult to market a World Championships where the best stars are not in attendance. With more and more big names like Murphy and Peaty signing on to the meet, FINA might have to rethink their stance on the competition. It is yet to be seen what the consequences, if there are any, of competing in the meet are.