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A letter from Bill Sweetenham to FINA

Apr 7, 2015  - Bill Sweetenham

A letter from Bill Sweetenham to FINA

Dear FINA members and all stakeholders,

In early March this year, I sent an article to Craig Lord of SwimVortex and to John Leonard of WSCA. It was published on the SwimVortex website under the heading of "Use By Date". I sent this with the hope and intention of suggesting to FINA that in light of concern about complaints levelled at FINA and the conflict of issues that are circulating around global swimming, that FINA should conduct a transparent, open and independent operational review of every aspect of its very complicated operation and organisation.

Open independent audits and reviews are not new to the business and corporate world, nor should they be to national and international sporting organisations. This would obviously include FINA. The lack of response from FINA indicates that they are of the opinion that it will go away and is isolated to only a handful of people who are committed to the best interests of world Swimming. I continue to hear and see FINA ridiculed.

The relationship between FINA and its stakeholders currently leaves much to be desired. The suggested review and audit would help heal the rift and also the discontent and dissatisfaction that many respected servants of world Swimming are expressing. Reviews and audits are part of the everyday world of major organisations. They come in many forms, whether it be defence forces with campaign audits, feedback sessions and audits from wartime missions, shareholder meetings of major corporations and many others. They are indicative of the strength of leadership of all leading global organisations. They are held regularly and are inclusive, and incorporate open consultation, negotiation and client feedback.

Members of FINA, my recommendation based on what I continually hear is that it is time for this to occur in an organisation that we all want to feel part of and proud of. Neither of these two aspects are currently evident. I recently heard (and hopefully it is a rumour) that the incumbent head of FINA wishes to nominate a successor to this role. I know of no successful global organisation that would permit this as it promotes and applauds an incestuous operation.

To all members of FINA and to those with a sincere interest, the issues of concern which have been well documented on the SwimVortex website will not go away unless this independent and transparent review/audit is carried out as a matter of urgency. This review of operations and audit of performance has the potential to clear the air and is vital to the success and the future of our sport.

FINA may choose to bury my request and hope that the issues will fade and subside. Experience suggests that this will only be temporary if it does, and it will reoccur given time.

It is time to look in the mirror, members of FINA leadership with honesty and integrity and implement a strategic and accurate implementation and modernisation to carry Swimming into the future. Personally, I believe that Swimming requires a single body to represent its stakeholders without the compromise of any other water related sports. I would think that these other sports feel the same? Multi-sports represented under one banner where water is the only common denominator is antiquated approach for each sports involved in today's modern world.

FINA, I ask you to modernise our sport and implement all of the above including the many great points recommended in the letter written by Mr George Block.  We need you to show leadership and to be responsible and accountable for all actions and decisions which affect the athletes, coaches and officials who are dedicated and committed to our great sport.

I look forward to hopefully receiving a positive response and hearing of the implementation of the matters raised. All stakeholders deserve governance and representation by an organisation that is free from conflict and ridicule.


Bill Sweetenham

-Sweetenham's "Use By Date" article can be found online here:

-George Block's letter can be found online here: