Fina, the global governing body of aquatic sports, has rejected calls to reconsider its decision to rebrand synchronised swimming as ‘artistic swimming’.
Last week, Fina said it had opted for the name change in an effort to attract more people to the sport, which has expanded in recent years to include male competitors.
The move has attracted a mixed response from the global swimming community, with approximately 9,000 people signing an online petition on change.org opposing the rebrand.
Vitaly Mutko, former Russian Sports Minister and now Deputy Prime Minister of the country, has also criticised the rebrand and said that despite the official move, the Russian Swimming Federation will continue to refer to the sport as synchronised swimming.
However, despite this criticism, Fina executive chairman Cornel Marculescu (pictured) has told the Reuters news agency that the governing body intends to keep the new name.
“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 very artistic sport,” Marculescu said.
In response to Mutko’s criticism, Marculescu said that the move will only impact the name of the sport, while its rules and regulations will remain the same.
Marculescu told Reuters: “Nothing changes, only the name… I don't see any great difficulty with that. I understand the commentary of Mr Mutko but it's no problem, we talk about the same sport anyhow.”
The online petition reads: "What both (Fina and the IOC) are forgetting is Synchro is a sport with extreme athleticism, power, strength, flexibility and endurance. Renaming it as Artistic Swimming… pays absolutely no respect to synchronised 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."