events & legacy

interview with brent nowicki, executive director, fina

Oct 11, 2022

We have asked FINA‘s new executive director to tell us more about FINA’s ambitions and plans to grow – and the role of cities.

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One of FINA’s goals is to “to promote Aquatics as the largest sport community in the World”. Can cities help you achieve this objective? If yes, how?  You have now overseen FINA for more than a year. You probably have a good vision of the strategic development of FINA and its aquatic disciplines. What do you see as the biggest opportunities for the sport? 

We have spent the better part of the last 16 months really examining every facet of our business. With new leadership in place, it was important for us to know what we have historically done well, and more importantly, what we need to improve on. FINA represents 5 Olympic sports (swimming, diving, open water swimming, water polo and artistic swimming), high diving, and masters, and we need to take great care and responsibility with each discipline. Needless to say, the opportunities across each discipline are endless. That said, on a global basis, FINA is focusing on two main areas.

First, FINA considers itself a true steward of aquatics. With this comes a responsibility to serve the communities and ensure that water sports play an active role in their daily lives. We achieve this by working with local communities and governments to build-out learn-to-swim and water safety programs. There are an estimated 236,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide. Therefore, we must work diligently to reduce that number to zero through our education, awareness, and event programming as a global federation of Aquatic sports.

Second, FINA is working diligently to redefine the way in which Aquatic sports are practiced and shown to the world. We are working closely with our partners to digitally enhance our sports.

One thing the cities in our network have in common is that they want to do more than just “host an event”? How can cities use a FINA event as a platform to achieve their economic, social and environmental objectives? What are the opportunities? 

FINA does not look at its events as simple placeholders for a competition. We are applying a 360-degree approach with our partners whereby we use our events as a foundation, and around that foundation we activate a series of community engagement and learn-to-swim programs, as well as environmental programs (waterway clean-up initiatives). The result of these activities becomes a large part of the legacy for a FINA event.

In your view, what do you think is the most important success factor in building strong partnerships with host cities? 

A successful partnership begins with knowing each other’s goals and ambitions. When we begin the process of event hosting with a city, we try to understand the city’s goals. We need to know the reason why the city wants to hold a FINA event and what it hopes to achieve. The impact of a FINA event comes in varying forms and with this, we can develop a partnership that meets these objectives. From 15,000 seat Aquatic stadiums to beach-lined open water races to community-based drowning prevention programming, we believe FINA can forge meaningful partnerships based on the city’s objectives. And, in doing so, create an amazing legacy that both FINA and the host city can be proud of.

One of FINA’s goals is to “to promote Aquatics as the largest sport community in the World”. Can cities help you achieve this objective? If yes, how?  

People often think of FINA as the global federation for Olympic aquatic sports. But one of the unique things about aquatic sports is how it’s used for a lifetime – by the young and the old. From learning to swim as a child to using the water as a form of recovery in your later years, water is all around us our entire lives. So the promotion of aquatics plays an important role in bringing communities together. With this, we are looking for cities who embrace this understanding and want to leverage the impact of elite sport as a catalyst for community engagement.

Is FINA looking for a particular region of the world to develop and host its events?

FINA represents 208 national member federations and hosts over 70 events a year. Its global reach is vast and diverse. While no particular regional focus is in place, FINA would like to continue its efforts to host events within Europe and the Americas.

What are the next hosting opportunities available for cities?  

Given the variety of events available across our disciplines, there are many hosting opportunities available. We are currently focused on filling our events calendar in the lead-up to the Paris Olympic Games (2024). Host cities, therefore, will be well placed to leave their mark on the journey towards this global sporting showcase.

What are the next hosting opportunities available for cities?  

Given the variety of events available across our disciplines, there are many hosting opportunities available. We are currently focused on filling our events calendar in the lead-up to the Paris Olympic Games (2024). Host cities, therefore, will be well placed to leave their mark on the journey towards this global sporting showcase.

To learn more

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