European Aquatics is happy to announce that the French Swimming Federation (Fédération Française de Natation: FFN) and its public partners have been chosen as hosts for the 2026 European Aquatics Championships in Paris-St Denis, where this year’s Olympic Games takes place.
In a press conference in the French capital, hosted by the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports and attended by European Aquatics First Vice President Josip Varvodic and Executive Director Patrice Coste, it was revealed that the event would unite European aquatics around a common vision: that of a sport that is respectful of the environment, accessible to all, and focused on innovation and performance.
There is also a strong Olympic legacy, with the Olympic Aquatics Centre (OAC) and the Seine used for both the Games and the 2026 event which takes place on the 100th anniversary of the European Championships, first held in Budapest, Hungary, in August 1926.
The OAC, which is the only permanent sports facility built for the 2024 Games when it will host the diving, water polo and artistic swimming, will stage the pool programme, diving, and artistic swimming two years later.
It features a 10-lane, 50m competition pool and a temporary 50m warm-up facility plus a 22x25m diving pool.
Spectators will be able to watch Europe’s best swimmers including French world champions Leon Marchand, who is expected to be one of the stars of the 2024 Games, and Maxime Grousset.
The open water races will be contested in the River Seine where a competition venue will also be constructed for the high diving with men going off a 27m platform and the women 20m.
European Aquatics First Vice President Josip Varvodic said: “We are excited to have the opportunity to organise our top event just two years after what we are expecting to be an excellent Olympic Games for aquatics and which marks the 100th anniversary of our first European Championship in Budapest in 1926.
“France has a long and successful tradition in our sport. I’d like to give a special thanks to President of FFN Gilles Sezionale and his team, the French authorities, who are completely engaged with the project, and all those at European Aquatics who work hard to make this event a reality.
“With the European Championships for 2024 and 2026 now secured, the future looks very bright for aquatic sports in Europe.”
France’s Minister for Education, Youth, Sport, and the Olympic Games Amélie Oudea-Castera said: “I am delighted that we can announce the hosting of the 2026 European Championships, confirming France’s rise as a major organiser of major international sporting events, culminating with the Games in less than six months’ time and these European Championships two years later.
“But there is also great satisfaction in seeing how these sport events help in the transformation of our regions and, above all, the education of our young people.”
The President of FFN Gilles Sezionale said: “I’m delighted that, thanks to European Aquatics, we can hold the 2026 European Championships with five of our disciplines, something we haven’t done since 1987.
“Our federation is delighted to be able to organise such a large-scale event, and what’s more in the Olympic pool.
“We are honoured to be able to bring the legacy of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games to life, and we look forward to a bright future for French swimming, whether at the 2024 Olympic Games or at Euro 2026.”
A PROUD FRENCH HISTORY IN AQUATICS
It will be the third time France will stage these championships following Paris in 1931 and Strasbourg in 1987.
Since 2000, France has hosted World and European Championships in Olympic sports including athletics, track cycling and gymnastics while last year it staged the Rugby World Cup.
France has a rich history in the sport. Yvonne Godard was the first French swimmer to stand atop the European podium when she won the 100m freestyle, fittingly in front of a home crowd at Paris 1931.
Jean Taris was the first Frenchman to take home continental gold when he won the 400m and 1500m freestyle titles in Magdeburg, Germany, three years later.
Since then many French swimmers have excelled in international waters.
Siblings Laure and Florent Manaudou have won armfuls of Olympic, world and European titles between them with the latter targeting his fourth straight 50m freestyle medal in Paris later this year.
Camille Muffat won medals at all international long and short-course championships – including 400m freestyle gold at London 2012 – before her tragic death in March 2015 while Alain Bernard won two Olympic titles among a four-medal haul.
French divers won three of the four available titles at the European Championships in Monte Carlo in 1947 including Madeleine Moreau in the 3m springboard.
She remains France’s only Olympic diving medallist with silver at Helsinki 1952.
Marc-Antoine Olivier has won Olympic, world and European open water medals while Gary Hunt won high diving bronze at the 2023 World Championships after switching nationality following double world success under the British flag.
The Fédération Française de Natation (FFN) is a French association founded in February 1919. Chaired by Sezionale since April 2017, the Federation brings together swimming, open water swimming, artistic swimming, diving, and water polo clubs in France, and organises national competitions and the selection of French teams.
As of summer 2023, it has 402,000 members, making it the sixth-largest sports federation in France.