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British Swimming and the company formed to organize the European Masters Championships in London last May have issued an apology and regret over their part in the failure of the European Swimming League (LEN) to cater for the large entry that might have been expected.

The program for the event was set on the basis of a previous event but organisers failed to recognize two obvious factors: the Masters swim community is massive; combine that with London as host and you have sporting grey power, so to speak, with one of the great tourist destinations of the world. The numbers of entries could and should have been anticipated, said angry critics at the time.

Given the shortage of space at the London Aquatics Centre, organizers decided to use both the competition and the warm-up/learning pool for racing.

To cater for that, Masters teams from all over Europe were told to warm-up at facilities around the capital: an instruction that came with no recommendation for where such facilities might be nor recognition of the type of pool use at facilities through the capital, most of which would not be conducive to warming up for racing.

Masters facing vast queues just to collect an accreditation, then faced the prospect of paying all they had to be in London at the championships but not actually getting to swim in the pool that hosted the London 2012 Olympic Games. Some swimmers found that the schedule meant that they would only get to swim in the side pool.

David Sparkes, CEO of British Swimming, and Maurice Watkins, Chief Executive, Swimming Championships 2016 Ltd., issued the following statement to make amends to the European Masters community:

British Swimming and Swimming Championships 2016 Ltd (SC2016) (the company formed to deliver the LEN European Championships) have issued this statement to express their regret at, and apologies for, issues experienced at the European Masters Swimming Championships 2016 held in the London Aquatic Centre between 25th and 29th May 2016.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our profound thanks to all the officials, the staff and other volunteers at the event for their hard work and dedication under very difficult conditions, which has been much praised by many of the competitors. A post event review has now been concluded and further discussions have been held with LEN and members of the British Masters community to examine the issues that arose to see what lessons can be learnt for the future.

British Swimming and SC2016 acknowledge that the unprecedented huge demand of entries and failure to cater for this in the original plans, led to significant challenges with this event. We accept that elements of the event were felt by many in the Masters community to be unsatisfactory and that experiences fell short of expectations, and would like to offer an apology to all those affected.

LEN has already taken some of the outcomes on board and resolved at the LEN Bureau Meeting in July 2016 to restore the additional day of competition to this meet for the future. This together with reviewing the entry standard for the European Masters Championships and a closer working relationship between the LEN Masters Committee, LEN Executives, the Masters community and the hosting Federation should ensure a better experience at future events.

We appreciate, first, the disappointment felt by those competitors whose expectations of the event were not met in two respects, by not being able to compete in the Olympic competition pool and by having to reduce the number of events they originally entered from five to three.

The reduction of event entries from five events to three events and the allocation of events to the pools were decisions taken by LEN based on entry numbers with a view to ensuring the participation of as many competitors as possible and to ensure the safe management of the Masters competition.

Further, we fully recognise that aspects of the arrangements for the event were felt not to be of a standard commensurate to an event at this level, including warm up/swim down facilities, access for coaches and spectator facilities. We apologise for the disappointment that this caused.

In addition, we understand that certain sectors of the Masters community considered that they were unfairly prejudiced by the arrangements. This was certainly not our intention; indeed, British Swimming is committed to ensure that Equality and Diversity is at the heart of British Swimming’s operations and considers equal treatment as one of the cornerstones of its Equality and Diversity policy. The data available from the Championships will be analysed, and we will use it to continue to strive to achieve our objective of equal treatment.

British Swimming can confirm for the avoidance of any doubt that both swimming pools at the London Aquatic Centre are fully compliant with FINA Rule 2.1.1 and 2.2.1 and, further, that the venue operators provided the relevant documentation to LEN as per LEN’s event conditions to ensure the validity of any records achieved prior to the commencement of the European Championships 2016. We understand that all records have now been ratified by FINA and LEN.

Finally we would like to thank you, the swimmer, for your commitment and passion for our sport and the positive way in which you approached the challenges faced at this event in the true spirit of Masters.

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