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PanAm Aquatics is the governing body for six aquatic disciplines for the American continent, including North, South and Central American nations. Stock photo via Satiro Sodre/SS Press
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June 17th, 2022
Courtesy: PanAm Aquatics
PanAm Aquatics, formerly known as UANA/ASUA (Amateur Swimming Union of the Americas or Unión Americana de Natación in Spanish), will have an Extraordinary Congress on June 18 taking place in Budapest, Hungary, during the 2022 FINA World Championships to vote for acceptance on the rebranding of the organization. PanAm Aquatics is the governing body for six aquatic disciplines: artistic swimming, swimming, diving, high diving, water polo, open water swimming, as well as masters swimming; for the American continent, and is divided into four zones: CONSANAT (South American Swimming Confederation or Confederación Sudamericana de Natación in Spanish), CCCAN (Central American and Caribbean Swimming Federation or Confederación Centroamericana y del Caribe de Natación in Spanish) USAS (United States Aquatic Sports), and ACA (Aquatics Canada Aquatiques). The organization’s vision is to create a thriving aquatic community by providing the necessary resources and opportunities to all its members to develop into achieving individual excellence in sport and in life.
The history of PanAm Aquatics dates back to 1948, when during the Olympic games in London, England, a group of athletic administrations met for the purpose of unifying aquatic activities in the Americas into a single regional and international organization. Representatives of the four zones (CONSANAT, CCCAN, USAS and ACA) came together and committed themselves to build an organization based on friendship and fellowship—with the main objective to function as one big family. The organization further sought to build and support competitive and administrative operations throughout the Americas. On August 8 of that year, Unión Americana de Natación was founded.
The pandemic changed the world in March of 2020, but PanAm Aquatics President Maureen Croes, who was elected at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games, saw this as an opportunity for the organization. According to Croes, a survey sent to PanAm Aquatics constituents indicated the need to reassess the mission and vision of the organization.
“We found out that inclusivity for all the disciplines and all countries was missing, as well as a more structured need for competitive, educational and developmental opportunities for athletes, coaches and officials”, explained Croes. “The name ‘PanAm Aquatics’ communicates very succinctly who we are—that is we represent the Aquatic Sports throughout the Americas. It simply fits.”
To make “PanAm Aquatics” the official name, the 45 member nations must vote at the June 18th congress to approve the name.
When asked about the long-term objectives for PanAm Aquatics, President Croes shared “our continent is very diverse, in countries as well as in the levels of development. While we have many World Champions in all of the six aquatic disciplines, we also have National Federations that are just starting out and do not have access to pools. At the same time, we also have some of the most beautiful oceans and open water venues available anywhere. Together with the Development Programs that FINA offers, and supported by a huge group of volunteers actively giving back to the sport, we can address the diversity amongst our members, and provide them the tools to get to the next level. The PanAm Aquatic Competitive events will be quality experiences to prepare our athletes for the World stage.”
Former Jamaican national swimmer, five-time Olympian and current world-record holder in the 50 and 100 meter breaststroke (SCM) Alia Atkinson, is a strong supporter of PanAm Aquatics and its name change, as she believes the rebranding will redefine and align the organization with the values and ideas it wants to show the region. “A new start and name can create a different outlook and goal for all of the Americas to aspire to reach,” shared Atkinson.
Growing up and swimming in the Caribbean, Atkinson noticed a disadvantage compared to other regions around the world in which there was a lack of opportunities and resources. “I believe the majority of our National Federations need more growth and development for aquatic sports, and this organization aids youth athletes in gaining the knowledge, education and competition that is required for success in the future.” She will be one of the seven Athletes representing the American continent and the Caribbean participating at the FINA Athletes Commission Election, held from June 16-28.
The next event hosted by PanAm Aquatics will be the 2022 PanAm Aquatics Junior Water Polo Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, July 11 through 16, followed by the PanAm Aquatics Masters Championships in Medellin, Colombia, July 21 through 28. The 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, are scheduled for October 20 to November 5.
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