Participation record is in sight
A record of 48 nations entered for the upcoming edition of the European Junior Swimming Championships in Rome. After the lost season in 2020, everyone is keen to send its best young competitors to test themselves at LEN’s top age-group event.
The magnificent Foro Italico, site of the 2009 World Championships and the annual Sette Colli meet, will host another brilliant event next week: the European Junior Swimming Championships return to the Eternal City and its eternal aquatic complex after 1987.
A participation record is in sight as 48 nations – out of the 52 LEN Member Federations – entered the event and 566 teenaged athletes are to line up for the races on 6-11 July.
LEN and its officials now have plenty of experience on how to run major aquatic events in a safe environment so even the different pandemic situations across Europe should not influence the meet in Rome – though the bubble concept shall be in place for all participants with restricted move and regular testing.
“The success of the European Aquatics Championships this May in Budapest was a clear demonstration that it is possible to organise a Covid-free competition during the pandemic even with several thousand people inside the so called bubble” LEN President Paolo Barelli said before the start. “It was inevitable that LEN would give back the chance for our age-group athletes to show themselves at our continental showcases. In 2020, we had to cancel all events, which was sad news for all young competitors – and it would have been terrible to do the same for 2021. It might have meant that a generation of talented swimmers should begin their respective senior careers without competing at junior European Championships.”
Mr Barelli emphasised that Europe was the No. 1 continent in aquatics and the roots of its success lied in the unique competition environment LEN and its National Federations had run for decades.
“We are the only continent where junior championships are held annually in each discipline – that gives our young athletes an outstanding advantage during their formative years, and we want to keep that edge on the long-term” the LEN President added.
In last 8 editions, Russia was the ruling nation in this event, finished atop in the medal charts every year since 2012. Though their dominance wasn’t as overwhelming in recent years as it had been between 2013 and 2015 (back then they amassed 19-23 titles per meet), still, their talented swimmers achieved outstanding results in Kazan 2019, Helsinki 2018 and Netanya 2017 as well.
This time Italy may challenge them at home soil as their juniors were usually ranked among the top three and Germany showed some strength as well. Since the junior Worlds were postponed to 2022 from this August, the best youngsters from Europe should offer their top form next week which well could make way to a series of outstanding swims in the gorgeous sunshine in Rome.
Another junior event has already kicked off: the men’s U15 water polo Europeans started on Sunday in Loule (POR).