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

Published On: June 14, 2024

Credit to:  World Aquatics

With the pool programme set to run from 17-23 June at the European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024, we take a look at the history of swimming at the European Championships.

1. Only men competed at the first Championships in Budapest in 1926. Five individual events were contested – the 100, 400 and 1500m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m breaststroke – plus the 4x200m freestyle. Germany won three golds, Sweden claimed two and Hungary one.

2. Women entered the following year at Bologna 1927, competing in the 100 and 400m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke and 4x100m freestyle relay. Netherlands won three golds with Great Britain and Germany taking one apiece. The 1500m freestyle was first contested by women at a European Championships at Eindhoven 2008 when Flavia Rigamonti of Switzerland with the 800m freestyle introduced for men, making it the first continental meet where the respective programmes were identical.

3. Sarah Sjöström is the most decorated swimmer in the history of the European Championships with 28 medals. The Swede claimed her first title in the 100m butterfly at Eindhoven 2008, aged 14. She won five medals, including three golds, at Roma 2022 to surpass Alexander Popov who amassed 26 medals during his career. Popov still leads Sjöström in the gold-medal count, 16 to 15.

Credit to: European Aquatics

4. Mixed relays were introduced at Berlin 2014. Italy claimed the very first title with the quartet of Luca DottoLuca LeonardiErica Ferraioli and Giadi Galizi winning the 4x100m freestyle in a European record of 3:25.02. The Great Britain squad of Chris Walker-HebbornAdam PeatyJemma Lowe and Francesca Halsall won the inaugural 4x100m mixed medley relay title in a world-record time of 3:42.02.

5. Peaty won four gold medals in Berlin on his European Championships debut in the 50 and 100m breaststroke, men’s 4x100m medley relay and the mixed medley relay. It was the start of a historic quadruple quadruple with the Briton winning four golds at each of the subsequent championships in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Sixteen races, 16 gold medals.

The European Aquatics Championships Belgrade 2024 serve as a final chance for pool swimmers to qualify for Paris 2024 with the qualification period ending on 23 June, the final day of competition in Belgrade.

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

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