The 19th European Short Course Swimming Championships will kick off Wednesday in Copenhagen at the Royal Arena, featuring 550 athletes representing 47 countries. Most of the greatest European stars are ready to compete in the five-day showcase where 40 titles and € 220,000 in prize money are up for grabs. Free live streaming of the event will be available on the LEN website in almost all corners in the world.
Forty-seven members out of 52 have sent their athletes to Copenhagen and the number of participants jumped to 550 from 500 two years ago, LEN President Paolo Barelli announced proudly at the LEN Opening Press Conference in Copenhagen. He added: “This is a great end to an already magnificent season. European athletes were outstanding in the whole year, they made our continent the best one, clinched the most medals, 50% of all at the World Championships in Budapest and Europe also had the most finalists, more than any other continent.”
Paolo Barelli praised the efforts of the Danish Swimming Federation, the organising committee and the city of Copenhagen for creating a perfect environment for the athletes. “Once more, our Danish friends did a great job. Four years after Herning, the 2013 edition of the short-course Europeans, we are back and I’m sure we will enjoy another fantastic show of swimming. Our great stars like Sarah Sjostrom, Adam Peaty, Katinka Hosszu or Gregorio Paltrinieri and of course the world-class athletes of the Danish team are all here to offer their very best, so we might witness a couple of world or European records broken.”
For the first time, LEN offers record bonuses for the swimmers, as an addendum to the prize money spot which awards the top 12 performances both among the men and women with €220,000. Beyond that, an individual WR pays €10,000 while the reward for an ER is €5,000.
Danish Swimming Federation President Kjeld Egebo emphasised the importance of the event for the country, as he said it was not only about top level swimming but also to highlight swimming as a life-saving activity. “In Denmark we target that every child has to learn to swim and we do believe that these championships will be a great tool in achieving that. We are to announce the launch of the new European project in the next days.”
The European Championships itself draws huge attention, too, 26,000 tickets have been sold in advance for the final sessions. In fact, this is going to be the first-ever sport event in the brand new Royal Arena so the expectations run really high. The Organising Committee did its utmost to make this event another unforgettable meet, according to Pia Holmen, CEO of the Danish Federation and the LOC. “After a couple of nerve-wracking days I’m proud when I walk around the pool deck. Let me thank to all our partners for their support” she said.
Alfonso Wucherpfennig, Chairman of the LEN Technical Swimming Committee thanked the locals to set up a brilliant venue where everything was in place by now. He mentioned that 550 athletes were entered to have 1603 individual starts.
LEN Operational Managed Marco Birri was happy to share the good news that the European Federation would provide live streaming from the event. “It’s mostly free in all territories, not only in Europe but also all around the world, so you just have to look for our website where anyone can follow action – for the first time we also provide live commentary.”
Swimmers are also getting ready to rock. One of the five reigning Olympic and world champions present, Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri said that he was pretty much awaiting the start as he wanted to race again. “My last competition dates back to August, when I swam at the University Games, soon after the World Championships so I really want to see where I am. In fact, four years ago in Herning I had probably the worst race of my life (in the 1500m free) so I’m yet to show my best in Denmark.” Two years ago Paltrinieri broke the 1500m WR in Netanya, he said this served as a good motivating factor in Copenhagen.
Home star Emilie Beckman said that they were looking forward to race in front of the home crowd. “We are really happy and excited to have this opportunity to swim at home and we are all committed to bring our very best to the pool.” The Danish team’s director Dean Boles added that it was going to be a tough job to oversee the largest-ever national team (38 athletes). “This will definitely be a world-class event and it’s a great honour to be a part of the Danish swim team. We’re gonna enjoy this moment” the Canadian born coach added.
The European Short-Course Swimming Championships will run from Wednesday to Sunday in the Royal Arena in Copenhagen. Heats start at 9.30 each morning while the final sessions are due at 17.00. The Short Course Europeans will be organised by LEN (European Swimming Federation) and the Danish Swimming Federation in co-operation with their partners Sport Event Denmark and the City of Copenhagen.