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LEN Vote For Mixed Relays & Big Logos

Mar 31, 2012  - Craig Lord

LEN, the European swimming league, has voted to hold mixed relays in which men and women race together at its winter showcase short-course championships from this year and the long-course championships from 2014. 

Where LEN has gone, FINA often follows but the move could not be extended to world swimming without a change to FINA rules, while any LEN events in which men and women race together would not count as world records, neither as a whole quartet nor as solo efforts for those leading off the relay. 

The most memorable case of how such things clash with FINA rules was the 52.99 of Libby Lenton (AUS) in 2007 when leading off a mixed relay over 100m free against Michael Phelps (USA) in the AUS Vs USA Duel in the wake of world titles in Melbourne that March. The splint was the first time a woman had cracked 53sec - but the effort was not recognised as a world record. 

Beyond reasons given on that occasion, FINA general rules specifically divide the official list of events into men and women sections, while swimming rules specifically divide the genders for world-record purposes and solo events. 

FINA has a bigger problem with introducing mixed relays: on one hand they would have little chance of making the Olympic Games, and if they did it would come at the expense of big traditional events, on the other hand FINA has gender specific sports under its umbrella, with synchronised swimming exclusively female and open to challenge, while water polo is a game in which men and women are unlikely ever to compete together for obvious reasons.

In other decisions, LEN has opted to cancel its European winter showcase event in years when FINA holds the world s/c championships in December, after the last clash of those events takes place this year. 

The continental body also voted to abolish the restriction on size of advertising logos allowed on suits, that among moves that FINA may find difficult to adopt given the potential conflict with sponsors and partners of the international federation.

LEN has recommended to FINA that it alter its definitions of "world junior" status to 18-20 for men and 17-19 for women.