Credit to: Pedro Vasconcelos/LEN

Secretaria Regional de Turismo e Cultura e Associação de Promoção da Madeira

The annual LEN Congress, which this year took place – 16 September 2023 – in Funchal, Madeira, approved the proposal to change LEN’s name to European Aquatics and to establish an independent Integrity Unit. The continental governing body remains committed to further supporting members in various ways, including organising a webinar on energy saving and hosting a pan-European Learn-to-Swim Conference.

The LEN Congress – the last one under this name – first approved the Activity Report presented by LEN President, Antonio Silva. LEN could look back on a rather busy year, which witnessed the establishment of the integrity road map, a webinar on energy saving when the energy-price crisis hit Europe last winter, the creation of the LEN Diversity and Inclusion Commission, a series of LEN Coaching Clinics, the introduction of an accreditation system for LEN-approved laboratories and training centres, and a new LEN water polo strategy for growth. Additionally, the inauguration of a new, objective ranking system of nations and clubs took place.

Credit to: Pedro Vasconcelos/LEN

As President Silva highlighted, the Bureau, the Executive, and the LEN Office held regular meetings, and all topics and decisions were shared with the member federations to fulfil the promises of full transparency. “When this Bureau was elected, we set 24 strategic objectives in our Action plan; 12 of those have been achieved, and we are on our way to achieving the other twelve as well, while establishing new priorities too,” he said in his presentation.

As novelties, LEN staged the first-ever U23 European Swimming Championships in Dublin and created a new format for Masters Short-Course Swimming to hold a European Championships in the 25m pool later this November (also in Madeira, where the Congress took place).

“We have new partnerships, like the one with Gloria Sports Arena. We supported the EPSI Annual Conference for European sport innovation, engaged with governments and federations to accelerate Learn-to-Swim initiatives, and within weeks we will hold a pan-European LTS Conference where we want to establish a European Water and Swimming Competence Standard,” the LEN President said.

He also added that new agreements for timing and scoring systems were already in place, and aquatics’ future in continental multisport events has also been secured.

Credit to: Pedro Vasconcelos/LEN

The Financial Report revealed that LEN’s financial situation is as healthy as ever. In 2022, it even produced a small surplus, while the prize money offered to the athletes and the financial contribution allocated to the member federations grew by 20% compared to the last comparable year of 2018 (when LEN’s two biggest events took place in the summer too).

As Treasurer Andida Bouma informed the delegates, the total amount of prize money and support for the federations went up to 1.7 million, including an ad hoc contribution of 124,000 Euros to Ukrainian athletes. Still, LEN’s reserves did not decrease at all. Ms. Bouma added that Deloitte, LEN’s Auditor, has issued a clean (unqualified) audit opinion with respect to the Financial Year 2022.

Credit to: Pedro Vasconcelos/LEN

General Secretary Noam Zwi presented proposals to modify several parts of the LEN Constitution. The Congress agreed to change LEN’s name to European Aquatics (following a similar name change by FINA, the world governing body, to World Aquatics).

A more gender-balanced Bureau is to be elected in the coming years, and that goal will already be reached upon nominating the five continental representatives to the World Aquatics Bureau.

A new and fully independent Integrity Unit shall be established to maintain confidence in the integrity of Aquatics and in the commitment of European Aquatics to take all steps necessary to protect that integrity.

The EAIU is set to combat all forms of corruption and ethical misconduct, investigate fraudulent behaviour, and detect all forms of misconduct and non-compliance with this Constitution and/or the European Aquatics Rules and Regulations to ensure the confidence of all Athletes in Europe who dedicate their lives to reach their sporting goals.

The unit will have the power to investigate and prosecute potential violations, but its main task would be handling all integrity matters and educating all stakeholders within European Aquatics about their obligations thereunder and to monitor their compliance with those obligations. A new Integrity Code, aligning with the same document issued by World Aquatics, has also been presented by Bureau Member Pia Johansen, and it enjoyed firm backing from the floor.

Credit to: Pedro Vasconcelos/LEN

LEN First Vice-President Josip Varvodic presented the necessary changes in several key positions inside the LEN Bureau after a couple of resignations. The Congress approved the decisions which had appointed Andida Bouma as EA Treasurer (previously General Secretary), Noam Zwi as EA General Secretary (previously Vice-President), Arno Pajek as Vice-President (previously Bureau Members), and confirmed Norbert Madaras as a new Bureau Member.

Vice-President Christer Magnusson offered a brief overview of the changes in the General Event Rules and Regulations amended by the Bureau. Member Federations were also informed of the stages of a fully transparent event bidding process, which allowed LEN/EA to follow the previously agreed timeline and announce the almost full LEN Calendar for the 2024 season. The process shall be similar in 2025 and 2026 with the prospect of having a multi-year calendar in hand to help the federations plan more efficiently well into the future.

At the end, the site and date for the 2024 European Aquatics Elective Congress were announced – the event shall take place in Athens, Greece on Saturday, 27 January 2024.

Credit to: Pedro Vasconcelos/LEN