Belgrade 2024: Five things to know about the history of open water at the European Aquatics Championships

Credit to: European Aquatics

With the open water swimming at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024 set to get underway on 12 June, we take a look at the history of marathon swimming at the European Championships.

  1. The European Open Water Swimming Championships first took place in 1989 in Stari Grad in the former Yugoslavia. The hosts won three of the four gold medals across the Men’s and Women’s 5km and 21km events. Igor Majcen and his brother Nace won the men’s races in those respective distances, with compatriot Anamarija Petričević and Hungary’s Rita Lazar following suit in the women’s competition.
  2. The competition first formed part of the European Aquatics Championships in 1995, when Vienna played host to the action. Seven nations featured on the podium that time around. Aleksey Akatiev won the 5km, the first of his four European golds with the Russian also claiming two World titles during his career.
  3. The next edition in Sevilla in 1997 saw the first-ever tie for a medal. Germany’s Christof Wandratsch and France’s Stéphane Lecat shared the silver in a week which saw six different countries take to the podium. Akatiev became the first man to win the 5/25k double while Peggy Busche of Germany won gold in the longer distance as well as 5k silver.
  1. Serbia will be the 14th country to play host to the competition, in what will be its 20th edition. It will also be the 13th time the Open Water Championships have formed part of the European Aquatics Championships, and the fourth in a row since it was reintroduced into the programme at Glasgow 2018, where aquatics was then part of the multi-sport 2018 European Championships.
  2. The Italians enjoyed a clean sweep in the men’s events last time out at Roma 2022, with Gregorio Paltrinieri, Domenico Acerenza and Mario Sanzullo taking the 5km, 10km and 25km titles for the hosts. Rachele Bruni and Ginevra Taddeucci joined forces with the former two athletes for the Team event, where they also took gold. It was a 10th European title for Bruni and Paltrinieri’s fifth.

The European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024 will run from 10-23 June with the open water swimming taking place on 12-15 June.

It will serve as a final chance to qualify for Paris 2024 with the qualification period for swimming ending on 23 June, the final day of competition in Belgrade.

The meet will be followed by the European Aquatics Masters Championships Belgrade 2024 which will take place from 26 June to 6 July, featuring the same disciplines plus water polo.