“Unforgettable” FINA World Aquatics Championships end following two weeks of world class competition

The 15th FINA World Aquatics Championships have come to an end with numerous world records broken and the introduction of new event high diving. The US topped the medal table with a total of 30; China obtained a total of 25 medals while Russia came third with 19 medals. The championships, which were based this year in Barcelona, involved six disciplines: diving, high diving, open water, swimming, synchronised swimming and water polo. Six world records have been broken during the two weeks of events including American Katie Ledecky smashing the women’s 1500m record. The event cost €25 million and was broadcast to 520 million viewers in 160 countries. According to FINA the event was attended by 267,000 spectators, 67,000 more than expected.

The Catalan swimmer Mireia Belmonte, who won the silver medal at the 400m (by Albert Gea / Reuters)
The Catalan swimmer Mireia Belmonte, who won the silver medal at the 400m (by Albert Gea / Reuters) / Julian Scully

Julian Scully

August 5, 2013 09:00 PM

Barcelona (CNA).- For the past two weeks Barcelona has hosted the 15th FINA World Aquatics Championships, which have created a spectacular atmosphere in the city. 2,500 athletes have competed in four unique venues involving six aquatic disciplines: diving, high diving, open water, swimming, synchronised swimming and water polo. One of the highlights of the Championships was the introduction of a new event: high diving, which was located in the waterfront harbour of Barcelona’s old port. The US topped the medal table obtaining 30 medals, followed by China which won 25 and Russia came third with a total of 19 medals. Six world records have been broken including: Ruta Meilutyte (Lithuania) in the Women’s 100m breaststroke, Rikke Moller Pedersen (Denmark) in the women’s 200m breaststroke and Katie Ledecky (US), who smashed the women’s 1500m freestyle record. The championships created a magnificent atmosphere in the city with 2,500 athletes from 180 countries competing. It is estimated that the event was broadcasted to a total of 520 million viewers and cost €25 million. During the two weeks 267,000 spectators attended events, 67,000 more than initially expected.

The main winners

Water polo events took place at the Bernat Picornell Pools and the men’s competition was won by Hungary who beat Montenegro 8-7 in a thrilling final in front of a near capacity crowd on Saturday evening. The men’s open water events were dominated by Germany and Thomas Lurz asserted his superiority in the long distant events. He won bronze in the 5km race, silver in the 10km and gold in the 25km event. In recent years Lurz has dominated the 25km race and this year’s event was particularly fast with eight competitors finishing in less than 5 hours. Lurz won with a time of 4 hours 47 minutes and 27 seconds and stated that “I was lucky to arrive first because we were all together but I was in the middle between other swimmers and I had a little bit of space. The last hundred meters I was in so much pain, I closed my eyes and I just pushed and I gave the best”.

In the swimming events the United States topped the medal table by winning a total of 29 medals, 13 of them gold. Ryan Lochte was the star of the show and won gold in the 200m individual medley, the 200m backstroke and the team 200m freestyle relay . The five time Olympic gold medallist dismissed any doubts about his fitness levels and now has five medals in the 200m individual medley, the first man to achieve this feat. “It's good to get a win out of this World Championships considering the circumstances I was in, taking time off and starting back in training late, so I'm happy with it”, stated Lochte. With regards to synchronised swimming, Russia obtained the most medals with 7, all of them gold, and Svetlana Kolesnichenko and Svetlana Romashina winning 4 each. Meanwhile, Catalan Ona Carbonell was the synchronised swimmer to win the most medals, 7 in total. This year’s FINA Championships have raised the profile of synchronised swimming and the Palau Sant Jordi arena was full to capacity for the Free Routine Combination with 9,000 spectators.

High diving makes its debut in the FINA Championships

One of the highlights of this year’s event was the introduction of high diving, which took place in Barcelona’s old harbour. Colombian Orlando Duque was crowned the first ever high diving world champion in front of over 10,000 spectators as he won gold ahead of Great Britain’s Gary Hunt and Mexican Jonathan Paredes. 38 year old Duque stated that “being here is fantastic, high diving is now part of a world championship and that’s the recognition that we needed.” The women’s event was won by American Cesilie Carlton who following a poor start managed to improve her performance and overcome her rivals and obtain gold. “I would have never imagined being able to win a competition of this importance, but the result was tight and this helped me”, stated Carlton. The high risk event has been included in this year’s event to evaluate whether it should be a permanent feature of the FINA championships. Competitors jump from a height of 27 metres and enter the water at a speed of 90 km/h (56mph).

“The Championships were unforgettable”

During the closing ceremony FINA President, Julio C. Maglione, praised the championships, “We come to the end of a great Aquatic Festival here in Barcelona!... I would like to express our sincere gratitude to all Spanish and Catalan authorities, to the Organising Committee Barcelona 2013, to the Royal Spanish Swimming Federation, and to the volunteers for their contribution, support and excellence in staging these 15th FINA World Championships here in Barcelona. These Championships were unforgettable!” The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, also praised the task of the 2,500 volunteers. In addition, he emphasised that the city had offered “its best”, “showing its welcoming character and its organisational capacity”. The Co-president of the Organising Committee and Councillor in the Catalan Capital’s City Council, Maite Fandos, also highlighted the success of the Championships. “Barcelona became the world capital of sport for these two weeks and this positive impact, in terms of media exposure, will bring significant benefits for our city and for Catalonia. She also noted how the city has benefited from tourism as a result of the event, “the images of our city were seen in more than 200 territories around the world; we also had more than 13,000 news in Spanish media related with the Championships, which is an outstanding figure”. After the conclusion of the closing ceremony the FINA flag was officially given to the city of Kazan (Russia) which will be the next host of the FINA Championships in 2015.

Barcelona: a history of hosting sporting events

This is the second time that Barcelona has hosted the FINA championships, the first time being in 2003. The event organisers were able to use venues that had been built for the 1992 Olympics which have since been updated to have a higher capacity. Diving events took place in the 4,000 seat Montjuïc Municipal Pool and has spectacular views over the city’s skyline with the Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in the background being the iconic image of the championships. In total there were 67 events and it is estimated that it resulted in 45,000 hotel overnight stays in Barcelona.