Swimming’s ‘Iron Lady’ forms pressure group

Hungarian swimming star Katinka Hosszu has today (Tuesday) announced the formation of the Global Association of Professional Swimmers (GAPS), a new body designed to drive change in the sport.

Today’s announcement came after Hosszu (pictured), who won three gold medals at the 2016 summer Olympic Games, last month openly criticised Fina, the sport’s global governing body, for introducing regulations that limit the number of World Cup events athletes can enter, and called on fellow swimmers to take a stand against the move and other aspects of the sport.

According to the GAPS official website, the organisation has secured an initial 30 members, including the 28-year-old Hungarian and 14 other Olympic champions. The names include fellow Rio 2016 gold medallists in the shape of Great Britain’s Adam Peaty, Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, Denmark’s Pernille Blume and Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström.

Hosszu last month stated that Fina “is in chaos”. She had said: “There is the lack of transparency in the financials, the constantly changing rules, and leaders with no vision. At first it may seem a bit scary, but this is the time for us, the swimmers, to do something about the future of our sport. We wouldn’t need to be pioneers; there are so many inspiring examples from other sports before us.”

A statement on the GAPS website today read: “We believe that athletes are essential to a successful sport. Athletes should have a say in how their sport is formed and how the rules are changed. Right now our sport’s leaders are not involving us in these rule changes.”

The formation of GAPS comes ahead of Fina’s 2017 World Aquatics Championships, which will take place in the Hungarian capital of Budapest from July 14-30. The Reuters news agency said a Fina spokesman declined to comment, but executive director Cornel Marculescu last month said Hosszu’s call for action was an “anti-FINA open letter.”