FINA Convention: Together We Can Make Aquatics Bigger!


The entire FINA Family can be proud of the outcome of the 1st FINA World Aquatics Convention in Punta del Este (URU), held from September 27-29, 2010. During three days, more than 400 delegates, including representatives from FINA’s 202 National Member Federations, but also from sport-related business companies, gathered in this summer resort, where the Rio del Plata joins the Atlantic Ocean, in the southeast part of the American continent.

Presentations, workshops and an exhibition area were at the programme of this Convention, the first of its kind, and conjugating two main goals: firstly, to provide concrete tools to FINA’s National Federations concerning its administration, governance, organisation of events or promotion – for that, it was published and given to all delegates the “FINA National Federation Development Plan Handbook”, which gives precious hints on how to succeed in these areas, tailoring the keys for success at all levels of development.

Secondly, this Convention was aimed at presenting FINA in the 21st Century. Under this ambitious objective, many perspectives were explored, namely the Digital Revolution in Communications, News Ways of Sponsoring and Increasing Revenue, Future Trends in Broadcasting, or Educating the Media on Aquatic Sports.


Around these two goals, the third main purpose of this Convention was to enhance the possibilities of networking and partnership between all protagonists of Aquatic Sports. For the first time in FINA’s history, it was considered that what surrounds (the personal contacts, the face-to-face interaction, the exchange of business cards…) the formal presentations of a Convention is at least as important as what is said by lecturers and moderators.

To facilitate this networking opportunity, an exhibition area was created, gathering 29 companies that are already related to Aquatics, or that are looking to be connected with the FINA world. Among these exhibitors some organisers of FINA events were also in Punta del Este to promote their competition and provide useful information to all National Federations.

The Convention started in the afternoon of September 27, when the first panel of presenters got into the stage: Wilfried Lemke, from the United Nations, spoke about the importance of Sport for the Development and Peace in the planet; Oon Jin Teik, CEO from Singapore Sports Council, recalled the country’s strategy to host and welcome great sports’ organisations; Dale Neuburger, FINA Vice President, briefed the delegates about the possibilities offered by the FINA Development Programmes; and Vladimir Salnikov, former Olympic and World champion and President of the All-Russian Swimming Federation, recalled how his successful career can now be of benefit for Aquatic sports.

The Official Opening of the Convention – also attended by IOC Vice President Thomas Bach (GER) – was then made by the FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione, the Uruguayan Minister for Sport and Tourism (and of Foreign Affairs by interim), Dr. Hector Lescano, and by the Mayor of Maldonado Oscar de los Santos. The symphonic orchestra of Uruguay then performed the country’s national anthem and a live version of the song “Amigos para Siempre” (“Friends for Ever”), in what was the motto for the hospitality felt by all participants in Uruguay.


Day 2 started with the “Aquatics Today” panel: Cornel Marculescu, FINA Executive Director, presented the FINA strategy and challenges for the years to come; Christophe Dubi, IOC Sports Director, recalled the outstanding co-operation between the International Olympic Committee and FINA; Claude Ruibal, Chairman of Universal Sports, highlighted the possibilities on the TV area; Peter Knowles, Director of Sport Event Solutions, spoke about the innovative concept behind the sports presentation at the 2008 FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Manchester (GBR).

In “Challenges and Opportunities”, Pierre Germeau (Digital Media Manager at Sportaccord) presented the Digital Revolution and news ways of attracting youth audiences; Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of the Brazilian Olympic Committee and of the 2016 Olympic Games Organising Committee in Rio, detailed the efforts put into getting this prestigious event in Brazil; Dr. Christa Thiel, Chairman of the FINA Disciplinary Panel and of the German Swimming Federation, gave some keys on how National Federations should liaise with Public Authorities; and Anne Adams-King, from British Swimming, recalled the achievement created by the “Swimming for all” programme launched in Great Britain.

In the afternoon, the Convention “split” in two rooms, with two main streams in discussion: Stream 1 was more focused on National Federations’ programmes, and Stream 2 was mainly dedicated to TV and media, host city insights and sponsorship.

In Stream 1, two panels were organised on the afternoon of Day 2. In the first one, Qiuping Zhang, FINA Bureau Member, spoke on Strategic Planning for National Federations; Chuck Wielgus, Executive Director of USA Swimming, focused his presentation on “Governance”; Errol Clarke, FINA TSC Member, spoke on “Branding”, and Kazuo Sano, FINA Bureau Member, on “Finances and Budgeting”.

The second panel included: Dr. Cees-Rein van den Hoogenband, Chairman of the FINA Sports Medicine Committee, presented the topic “The Role of the Aquatic Physician”; Dr. Margo Mountjoy, FINA Bureau Member, recalled what the FINA Sports Medicine Committee can do for National Federations; David Sparkes, Chief Executive of British Swimming, underlined the possibilities of “Generating Increased Revenues”; Paolo Barelli, FINA Honorary Secretary and President of the Italian Swimming Federation, also spoke on “Securing your Income”.

In Stream 2, the afternoon started with Lars Haue-Pedersen, Managing Director of TSE Consulting, and his view on “Bidding Strategies”; Leonardo Gryner, CEO of Rio 2016 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, then spoke on how to develop new sources of revenue; Charlotte O’Neill, Aquatics Manager at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, introduced the delegates on the fundamental cooperation between the FINA Family and Organising Committee of these Games; Fernando Rodriguez, President of the Swimming Federation of Peru, gave practical examples of the collaboration between a national body and FINA.

From left to right: Husain Al-Musallam (moderator), Leonardo Gryner, Lars Haue-Pedersen, Charlotte O'Neill and Fernando Rodriguez

Stream 2 continued with a TV panel composed by Peter Diamond (Senior Vice President – Olympic Programmes, for NBC), who spoke about “Future Trends in Broadcasting”; Koji Sato, Director at TV Asahi, summarised the precious synergy between FINA events and FINA TV partners; Nick Haigh Director of TV properties at IEC in Sport, concluded by providing some strategies to get on TV screen.

The third and last day of the FINA World Aquatics Convention opened with the continuation of Stream 1 and 2. In Stream 1, Dr. David Gerrard, FINA Sports Medicine Committee Vice Chairman, exposed the topic “Securing Clean Sport”; Osvaldo Arsenio, FINA Coaches Commission Chairman, spoke about the challenges of the swimming coach in the 21st century; Jeffrey Leow, President of the Singapore Swimming Association, briefed the delegates on “Volunteers”; Mike Unger, Assistant Executive Director at USA Swimming, explained the new “Results Entry System”; and Carol Zaleski, FINA TSC Chairman, introduced the assistance with the new rules on Olympic Games and World Championships qualification in Swimming.

The second panel of Stream 1 continued with Pamela Vipond, Olympic Solidarity Deputy Director, who spoke about the collaboration with FINA; Husain Al-Musallam, FINA Vice President, who had the topic “Autonomy of the National Federations and Sports Movement; Jason Rance, Speedo’s Vice President of Marketing, concluded this stream on “Sponsoring”.

Stream 2 included a first panel with Gianni Merlo, President of AIPS, about “Creating and Sustaining Media Interest”; Xin Zhou, Senior Reporter at Xinhua News Agency, then continued by presenting the theme “Educating the Mainstream Media about Aquatic Sports; Eliana Alves, FINA Press Commission Member and Press Officer of the Brazilian Swimming Federation, spoke on how the National Federations can improve their relations with the local media; and Tamas Gyarfas, FINA Bureau member and one of the editors-in-chief of the FINA World Aquatics Magazine presented this publication to the delegates attending the Convention.

The last panel of Stream 2 included Lawrie Cox, Director at Swimming Australia, who focused in “Attracting and retaining sponsors”; Kiril Todorov, President of the Mexican Swimming Federation then explained the subject “Sponsor activation and Event promotion”; finally, Peter Carlisle, Managing Director of Octagon, recalled the connection and necessary coordination between National Federations’ sponsors and Athletes’ sponsors.

The Convention concluded with a common panel composed by Soichi Takahashi, General Manager at the International Sports Department, Sports Division, of Dentsu, who explained the view of Aquatics in the world sports market. This same trend, under the motto “Pool is Cool”, was underlined by Eduardo Fernandez, from DDB Chile. The last discussion panel, to recall some of the conclusions of the Convention, was formed by an athlete representative (Vladimir Salnikov), a National Federation representative (Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming), a Sponsor representative (Jason Rance, Speedo), a Broadcaster representative (Peter Diamond, NBC), and moderated by FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu.

The last panel of the Convention, with in the middle, FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione and FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu

The moderators during the three-day Convention were the following FINA Bureau Members: Mustapha Larfaoui (Honorary Life President), Sam Ramsamy (Vice President), Paolo Barelli (Honorary Secretary), Bartolo Consolo (Immediate Past Honorary Secretary), Husain Al-Musallam (Vice President), Nory Kruchten (Vice President), Dale Neuburger (Vice President), Dennis Miller, Eldon C. Godfrey (Honorary Member), Bill Matson (Vice President), and Paulo Frischknecht.

The Convention was then formally closed by FINA President Dr. Julio C. Maglione, who gave rendezvous in two years time to all delegates for the second edition of the FINA World Aquatics Convention, to be held in October/November (city to be confirmed, after a bidding process that will be carried out by FINA).

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