FINA Proposes Changes in Olympic Lineup, What Does This Mean?

Photo Courtesy: The Japan Times

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By Katie Lafferty, Swimming World College Intern.

At the last long course World Championships, held in Kazan, Russia in 2015, mixed relays were added to the lineup. As coaches and swimmers figured out these new events, they used a number of strategies. Some teams went full force, putting their top swimmers in these mixed relays and other teams were more hesitant when it came to their lineups.


Photo Courtesy: R-Sport / Mia Rossiya Segodnaya

FINA recently proposed adding additional swimming events to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. This proposal has created a lot of buzz around the world; both by the swimming community and by the athletic community in general. There have been 10 events that have been proposed to be added.

The events proposed to be added by FINA include:

  • Women’s 1500m freestyle
  • Men’s 800m freestyle
  • Two Mixed relays (4x100m freestyle and the 4x100m medley)
  • 50m of each stroke for both genders
    • 50m butterfly, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke

If these events are added to the Olympic line up, what does that mean for American swimmers? What does that mean for the world of swimming? It could mean that more people will be able to achieve their dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer.

These proposed events could allow the United States to  further its dominance in the sport of swimming. Katie Ledecky could finally be able to break her 1500m freestyle world record at the biggest swim meet a person can attend.  Adding the 50s of stroke would mean that backstroker Ryan Murphy could dive into the 50m backstroke, and yet again, be crowned “King of Sprint Backstroke”.


Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Adding these events could also open up doors for the athletes who represent the Refugee flag. At the Rio Olympics in 2016, standout refugee swimmer Yursa Mardini, won her heat in the 100m butterfly. If there was a 50m butterfly at the Rio Olympics, a second event could have been added to Mardini’s list . 

Think about the best swimmers in the world. Could we see someone be compared with Pehlps when it comes to the number of butterfly races won? Could Joseph Schooling be that person? 

Adam Peaty, the reigning Olympic Champion in the 100m breast and World Record holder in the 50m breaststroke, could benefit with these changes as well. Adding a 50m breaststroke would allow Peaty to solidify his dominance in the breaststroke events at the biggest event for the swimming world. Could he win both the 50m and 100m breaststroke in Tokyo 2020? If this event proposal goes through, Peaty very well could win both sprint breaststroke events at the next Olympics.

If these events get approved we will see new faces, more world records, and more gold medals.

Although there has not been a set date for when the results of this approval will be announced, the wait is exciting nonetheless. Until then, we sit and speculate what this change could do for our sport.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.


  1. Carolyn Sheehan

    It would be amazing to give more opportunities for athletes with different talents to compete! The world needs more positive changes.

  2. Jake Des Roches

    Need to add more roster spots if you’re going to add more events.

    I also think it would be better for our aport to add 400s of stroke vs. 50s of stroke. But 50s would definitely be better for TV ratings.

    • avatar

      have you ever watched the 50s of strokes? The 50 fly is a bunch of thrashing madness and predicting the winner with 5 meters remaining is almost impossible.

  3. Mixed relays were always fun to watch but only happened at “fun” meets. It would be great to see women and men competing head to head, depending on each teams lineup.

  4. Donald P. Spellman

    Get the events lined up (male & female 800 & 1500m Freestyles) then add the mixed relays.
    I’m indifferent towards adding the 50’s of strokes.

  5. avatar

    Mixed relays are interesting – they are a different way to display depth and use athlete’s likely already in the meet.

    Stroke 400s miiight be interesting but so long as non-world-record events are suggested I’d like push the argument somewhat further: how about a 600m IM? Particularly with the following constraints:
    -IM turns are already regulated by being, essentially, finishes in their respective strokes so order _doesn’t_ matter
    -Except the ‘freestyle’ leg which is defined as being a stroke other than the other 3
    -So how about 3 lengths of each stroke in (nearly) any order the competition desires so long as all 3 ‘freestyle’ lengths come last.

    This would preclude having to declare an order in advance, inject many more opportunities for strategic choices, be long enough for commentators to work up a head of steam and (hopefully) feature many changes in lead positions.

    I am up for pretty much anything that doesn’t further reinforce the idea that swimming is, to a first approximation, front crawl.

  6. Tracy Jones

    This is great bring it on

  7. Scott O

    I’m with Spellman on this one.

  8. Claudia Mabon

    Yes!!! Yes!!! yes!!!! Sprinters here we come! The sport needed more audience anyway which will bring more money to the sport and diversity.

  9. avatar

    I definitely agree with the 1500 for women and 800 for men. Also, all the 50’s strokes, love to see pure speed.
    Hold off on mixed relays, however add and 4×200 IM.relay And a4×50 medley relay.
    This would be great for swimming too. Add the mix relays for the 2024 games.

  10. Neil Morgan

    I’d like an event that’s completely different, like swimming until you lap your opponents, or some kind of long distance non-relay team event where swimmers can use the swimmer at the front to help them along, maybe with leaders having to drop to the back every 50m or 100m. They do lots of strange events in the velodrome, so it would be nice to have some in the pool too.

  11. Laurent Landreau

    Too many events at the Olympics today, making them already barely manageable and overly costly. Very few countries can now afford to organise them. That would make it even worse.

  12. Dawn Ehler

    here you go Katja the 1500m swim for women 😀

  13. Whitnie Walton

    Anthony Phillips Perez maybe we can plan to go to the next olympics in Japan!!!!

  14. avatar

    I like the additions. Would allow more team effort. Looking forward to watching.