Artistic differences dividing devotees of ‘synchro’
BUDAPEST — FINA will not revert to ‘synchronized swimming’ after the name of the sport was changed to ‘artistic swimming’ last week, the world governing body’s executive chairman, Cornel Marculescu, said on Wednesday.
The organization that oversees world swimming — which also elected top officials, including a new term for 81-year-old chairman Julio Maglione — voted to change the name to attract a wider audience to a sport that has expanded recently, including having male competitors.
“This issue (renaming the sport) is coming out from the media... and also from the (International Olympic Committee) to give another dimension to synchro not to be only synchro swimming but to be a ver y artistic sport,” Marculescu said at the world championships.
However, the decision has drawn criticism, including from thousands of online protest votes at petition website change.org, and a defiant call from the deputy prime minister of Russia, a powerhouse in the sport.
“To keep the name synchronized swimming is our right, and if the Russian Swimming Federation itself, the coaches will want it, we will do it,” Vitaly Mutko, a former sports minister, told Russia’s staterun TASS news agency, sports website Inside the Games reported.
“Such things as renaming are born spontaneously,” Mutko added.
“Now the whole discipline has got a new name, and what is the point? The main thing is that changes in the rules do not follow.”
Marculescu confirmed the rules of the sport would not be altered.
“Nothing changes, only the name. I don’t see any great dif- ficulty with that. I understand the commentary of Mr Mutko, but it’s no problem. We talk about the same sport anyhow.”
About the online petition, which had collected nearly 9,000 signatures by late on Wednesday, Marculescu said: “It’s interesting to have a different opinion.”
The petition reads: “What both (FINA and the IOC) are forgetting is that synchro is a sport with extreme athleti- cism, power, strength, flexibility and endurance.
“Renaming it ‘artistic swimming’ pays absolutely no respect to synchronized swimmers.
“FINA has only just recently opened the door for men to compete at the (world championships), and this name change will be more of a deterrent to males than a calling card.”