Attracting Delegates from all over the world the 1st FINA AQUATICS CONVENTION came off with a ‘BANG’. According to the statistics more than 400 delegates attended. The Caribbean was indeed represented as expectations ran high among National Federation Representatives who came looking for solutions to their current problems in the presentations and to network with Companies offering solutions to plant and equipment. Despite the fact that the presentations were presented from the angle of the Countries already with defined and developed sporting portfolios the global view enabled small island nations to assess and benchmark their current positions and their chances to grow and compete on similar levels.

Of particular interest was the emphasis placed on changing the way how the sport is presented to the spectators and the need to create an entertaining show to enhance the sport’s offerings to its commercial partners , grow the popularity of the sport to attract larger audiences which will also attract new athletes’ interest in aquatics. The dominant role that television and other social media can play in conveying messages and reaching the youth showed the huge gap between sports in developed Countries and small island states like Barbados. An equal eye opener was the attractiveness of the learn to swim programmes to potential sponsors in developed Countries as avenues for increasing their image as socially responsible entities. While this phenomenon is not so new to small Island nations, as learn to swim programmes continue to be important to us as indeed we are surrounded by water and it is undoubtedly ‘our world’ , the fostering of these programmes as further leverage for sponsors was indeed thought provoking.

Errol Clarke, President elect of CCCAN and a member of the FINA Technical Committee was the only Presenter from the Caribbean. His presentation on BRANDING discussed how National Federations may benefit from packaging the sport and its offerings to create an identity in which its DNA is encapsulated. He emphasised that all behavior must be consistent with the messages emitted through the brand as the brand will reflect the Federation’s values and that of the sport.

President elect of CCCAN, Errol Clarke, 2nd from right is seen with other fellow Presenters at   the Convention.

Here President elect of CCCAN, Errol Clarke, 2nd from right is seen with other fellow Presenters at the Convention.

Suggestions for improving the format of the convention ranged from the inclusion of small discussion groups in a work shop format to widening the scope of the exhibition. For my part more emphasis must be placed on helping smaller and lesser competitive Nations to get started before growth could even be considered. The 1st FINA WORLD AQUATICS CONVENTION, the brain child of its PRESIDENT, DR JULIO MAGLIONE, described by the Mayor of Maldonado, as an institution himself, met its objectives as outlined and was very informative as we will work to implement where possible some of the ideas shared. A stamp commemorating the event and 100 years- 1908-2008-was unveiled with a photograph of the swimmer DANIEL PEREYRA performing the butterfly. The stamp valued at $37.00 was presented to each Delegate attending the event as a souvenir.

We were all treated to a fantastic welcome by the President of Fina himself, The President and Minister of Tourism and Sport of Uruguay and the Mayor of Maldonado. The Conrad Hotel provided accommodation affording us awesome beach views. We were wined and dined like Lords and Ladies: First in the Punta del Este Ballroom at the Gala Dinner of the Opening Ceremony where Uruguayan dancers performed the TANGO, a graceful and elegant dance for the agile. The Restaurant “El Palenque” was our next adventure the night following where superior cuts of beef were served in all shapes and sizes. Everyone commented that they had never seen so much beef in one place!

Our final dinner was in the Ball room Montecarlo-back at the Conrad where the curtain came down in grand Uruguayan style. On this occasion a chicken dinner was served up with dancers performing the Samba. Photographed after the dinner in the foyer of the Hotel are Errol Clarke-Barbados, Mr & Mrs Brent Mays- US Virgin Islands and Sonia O’Neal- Barbados. It was indeed a delightful, enjoyable and memorable convention! We all promised ourselves that we will indeed return to URUGUAY! on holiday of course!

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