Published On: May 6, 2024

Belgrade played host to the inaugural World Championships in 1973 and 51 years later will stage the European Aquatics Championships for the first time.

Then the capital of the former Yugoslavia, Belgrade welcomed 686 swimmers, divers, water polo players and artistic swimmers representing 47 nations for the event which ran from 31 August to 9 September 1973.

Athletes from 15 countries were represented on the podium with the United States topping the overall standings with 38 medals of which 15 were gold.

Yugoslavia won one medal, a bronze in the men’s water polo as Hungary clinched the title. Since then, Belgrade has hosted the 2006 and 2016 European Water Polo Championships – with Serbia lifting the winners’ trophy on both occasions – and will stage the 2026 edition.

Three European Junior Swimming Championships have also been staged in 2008, 2011 and 2023. While over 50 years have passed since the inaugural World Championships, venues that were used in 1973 will also play a part at Belgrade 2024, connecting the past and present.

Here, European Aquatics takes a look at the venues that will be used for the continental showcase that will run from 10-23 June 2024 followed by the masters competition from 26 June to 6 July at which water polo will also be contested.

The Tašmajdan Sports and Recreation Center staged the competition at the 1973 worlds, bearing witness to history.

Novella Calligaris had become the first Italian to claim an Olympic medal at Munich 1972 and a year later she was the only European woman to top the podium bar the East German contingent who accounted for 10 of the 14 gold medals.

It later emerged that East Germany had imposed a state-sponsored doping programme.

Calligaris won the 800m freestyle in a world record of 8:52.97 as well as claiming bronze in the 400m freestyle and 400m individual medley.

The men’s competition was dominated by the United States and the GDR with Great Britain’s David Wilkie making two trips to the podium with 200m breaststroke gold and 200IM bronze.

In the diving, Klaus Dibiasi won the inaugural world 10m platform title, adding to his two straight golds at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics and the Italian would go on to make it three in a row at Montreal 1976. Dibiasi also won silver in the 3m springboard in Belgrade.

In the women’s diving, Olivia Knape also won 10m platform gold and 3m springboard silver, the Swede replicating her achievements at Munich 1972. Only men’s water polo was contested with Hungary taking gold ahead of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

The United States swept the artistic swimming, then known as synchronised swimming, with no European woman on the podium.

Located in the Tašmajdan Park in the old town of Belgrade, the venue boasts indoor and outdoor pools as well several sports facilities including a running track, sports fields, a fitness centre and gym and ice skating rink.

It will be used as a training venue during the European Aquatics Championships and will stage the artistic swimming during the masters competition.

The Sports Centre Milan Gale Muškatirović was constructed for the first World Championships and has subsequently been used for a range of international sporting events.

It is an imposing building which embodies 1970s architecture and is situated at the foot of the Kalemegdan fortress at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

Named after the legendary Yugoslav water polo player who won Olympic and European silver medals, the venue boasts one indoor Olympic-sized pool and three outdoor pools.

Credit to: Serbian Swimming Federation

Between them, the two venues have staged three editions of the European Junior Championships with many young athletes taking an important step in their development on to the senior stage.

Sharon van Rouwendaal won four medals including 1500m freestyle gold on 2008 before embarking on a senior career that has brought Olympic, World and European titles.

The Netherlands swimmer has her eyes set on a third straight trip to the open water podium in Paris come the summer.

Serbian Velimir Stjepanovic clinched double gold three years later while Lana Pudar starred last year before going on to claim compete at the World Championships in Fukuoka.

Lake Ada Ciganlija will stage the open water competition in both competitions. It’s a popular recreational area situated on an island in the Sava River, near Belgrade.

Often referred to as “Belgrade’s Sea,” Ada Ciganlija offers a diverse range of outdoor activities, including swimming and water sports and has hosted many competitions including rowing and kayaking.

The island is known for its extensive beaches, lush greenery, and well-maintained walking and biking trails, attracting locals and tourists alike.

The Institute for Sports and Sports Medicine of the Republic of Serbia will stage the diving in both competitions.

The Sports Centre 11 April will host the water polo at the European Masters Aquatics Championships. It has three outdoor swimming pools (small, medium and Olympic-size), three indoor pools (small, medium and large), a relaxation centre, a fitness centre with modern equipment, multi-purpose gymnasium, classrooms, air-conditioned table tennis facilities, a gymnasium and three outdoor tennis courts.