SHANGAI – FINA plans to launch a "Champions Swim Series" in 2019 with $3.9 million prize money after swimming's governing body faced a backlash and legal action from some of the sport's biggest stars.
FINA made the announcement on Thursday saying that the event will consist of a three-leg competition between March and May and include the Olympic and world champions, as well as world-record holders and top-ranked swimmers.
Swimming's elite will receive prize money and appearance fees and be grouped in teams for what FINA said will be "an exceptional showcase".
It will involve individual and relay races – finals only – in 50m pools.
"By creating this additional elite competition, FINA will generate a true swimming show where sport presentation and stars' promotion are key concepts for a successful meet," said FINA president Julio Maglione.
The series will "complete in the best possible way our swimming calendar throughout the year", he added.
Swiss-based FINA, which is staging the short course (25m) world championships at the moment in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, has been on the receiving end of growing criticism and also legal action over its running of the sport.
A trio of world and Olympic champions, including Hungarian "Iron Lady" Katinka Hosszu, filed a class-action anti-trust lawsuit last Friday in the United States after FINA effectively shut down an independent competition in Italy, threatening to ban top swimmers who took part.
The meeting, scheduled for late December in Turin, was coordinated by organisers of a proposed International Swimming League that would operate outside FINA's control and pay lucrative prize money.
Britain's Adam Peaty, another of swimming's biggest names and a reigning Olympic champion, has also hit out at FINA.
"It feels like we're still in 1970," the 23-year-old recently told BBC Sport.
"(FINA) need to listen to the athletes and hear what they want instead of saying, 'You need it this way.'"AFP