FINA Report: Mixed Relays Could Become Part of World Championships

PHOENIX, Arizona, November 1. A report from the recent FINA Technical Swimming Committee in Shanghai indicates that mixed relays could become a part of the next two installments of the swimming world championships.

The Papua New Guinea Swimming Association's latest newsletter lists the topics discussed in the committee meeting, which was held July 22-23 during the FINA Aquatic World Championships. At that meeting, the committee recommended that mixed relays (two men and two women) be added to the world championship program, citing the success of the events at the 1st Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010. It is not known what specific mixed relays would be considered for worlds, but the Youth Olympic Games featured a mixed 400 freestyle relay and a mixed 400 medley relay.

This would mark the first time mixed relays have been offered at a major international competition outside of the Masters swimming arena. The subject of mixed relays has had its share of controversy, dating back to the 2007 Duel in the Pool between the United States and Australia. In the meet's opening event, the mixed 400 freestyle relay, Michael Phelps of the United States swam the opening leg against Australia's Libby Lenton. Lenton, who now goes by her married name Trickett, swam a 52.99 in the 100 freestyle, breaking the existing world record of 53.30 held by Britta Steffen. But Lenton's time was not ratified, as FINA officials ruled that the mixed 400 freestyle relay is not an internationally sanctioned event. Some argued also that Lenton was aided by a draft from Phelps, who was more than a body length ahead of Lenton in the adjacent lane.

Click here to revisit Lenton's swim in 2007.

The FINA report as published in the Papua New Guinea newsletter does not specify when the organization would rule on adding the mixed relays to the program. The next world championships will be held in December 2012 in Istanbul, with the next long course world championships slated for summer 2013 in Barcelona.

Also discussed — and approved — in the FINA committee was increasing the number of swimmers allowed under the "Universality" rule from three to four (two men and two women). Countries that have swimmers who do not meet FINA qualifying times fall under this rule.

Regarding the Youth Olympic Games, the age range for boys was recommended to be 15 to 18 years old. For girls, that range would be 14 to 17 years old. Also, the 800 freestyle was mentioned as a possible new event to the Youth Olympic Games.

Click here to read the Papua New Guinea newsletter.