Otopeni 2023: Five things to know about the European Short Course Championships

Credit to: KMSP/Stephane Kempinaire

As Romania prepares to host Olympic and world champions from across Europe, here are five things to know before the action starts in Otopeni on 5 December.

EUROPEAN SHORT COURSE CHAMPIONSHIPS TURN 22

This year’s edition will mark the 22nd year of the European Short Course Championships as we know it.

The inaugural Championships were held in 1996 and replaced the European Sprint Swimming Championships which ran from 1991 to 1994.

Alexander Popov, widely regarded as one of the sprinting greats, was among the first winners of the event. He took home gold in the 50m freestyle in 1991, less than eight months before he would go on to become double Olympic champion in Barcelona.

FIRST FOR ROMANIA

The Aquatics Complex of Otopeni will play host to the event for the first time having successfully staged the European Junior Swimming Championships in 2022.

The venue, which is located 10km outside the Romanian capital Bucharest, opened in 2021 and consists of six swimming pools with seating for just under 3,000 people.

President of the Otopeni 2023 Organising Committee, Camélia Potec, said: “It is the first time that this top competition will be held in Romania, and we are proud to open our doors and to showcase the facilities, accommodations and experiences that will make it truly unforgettable for all involved.”

POPOVICI LEADS HOME CHARGE

Credit to: European Aquatics

International stars from across Europe will descend on Otopeni, including home favourite, David Popovici.

At 19, he has already claimed four titles in the World and European long-course pools and is the 100m freestyle world record holder with a time of 46.86.

Popovici won 200m freestyle gold at the 2021 edition in Kazan, Russia, and silver at the 2022 World Short Course Championships in Melbourne, Australia.

He recently confirmed to local press that he is using this as a key meet ahead of Paris 2024 having narrowly missed out on a podium spot at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

GAME-CHANGING MIXED RELAYS ADDED IN 2012

One of the most significant changes to the programme came at Chartres 2012 with the introduction of mixed relays.

The decision to include them came in the same year that mixed relays were first introduced to the World Cup series by FINA [now World Aquatics], which was described as an effort to ‘develop swimming further’.

Hailed as being “100 per cent one of the most exciting races in swimming” by double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington, mixed relays began growing in popularity around this time.

Hosts France won the inaugural mixed relays in Chartres 11 years ago with Florent Manaudou – fresh from winning the 50 free at the London Olympics – a member of both victorious mixed squads in the 4x50m freestyle and 4x50m medley.

The 33-year-old – who won five golds at Chartres 2012 – will compete in Otopeni.

Today, they are some of the most highly-anticipated events on the programme and in 2021, saw the Netherlands topping the podium in both disciplines.

LIBERTY, JUSTICE, FRATERNITY

Credit to: Daniel Remes

The logo for the championships, which is unique to each individual event, is a symbol of ‘liberty, justice, and fraternity’.

Created jointly by European Aquatics and the Romanian Aquatics Federation – organisers of the event – the blue, yellow, and red design speaks to the significance of the event and its positive impact on the host nation.

Camélia Potec explained that the logo was inspired by national identity and the values Romania stands for.

“The blue represents liberty, the centre band is yellow in colour and symbolises justice, while the red is the final band and represents fraternity of the nation,” she said.

“For Romanian swimmers that will be present at the Championships, as well as for the Romanian public, 2023 Otopeni Short Course Swimming Championships logo speaks about the power of the team, fair play, excellence, respect and friendship all wrapped up in the symbolic splashes that the event will produce.”

The medals and mascot also showcase national identity with the latter a turtle that bears the logo on its shell.

Potec added: “We chose the turtle because it is a water animal. We have some species that live in the Danube Delta, a national biosphere reserve and national park in Romania which is classified as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

“The colours of the elements of the shell are the blue, yellow and red of the Romanian flag.”

You will be able to follow all of the latest news and videos from Otopeni 2023 via the European Aquatics website and social media channels, with LIVE STREAMS available via All Aquatics.