Where, and when, were the first FINA World Swimming Championships held?

By way of clarification, the global governing body for water sports, including swimming, was founded as the Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur (FINA) in July, 1908, but officially renamed World Aquatics in January, 2023. Furthermore, it is important to make the distinction between the World Aquatics Championships, formerly the FINA World Championships, and what was known, until December, 2022, as the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m).

Both competitions are open to all member federations, but the former features all six aquatic sports overseen by World Aquatics, namely swimming, artistic swimming, open water swimming, diving, high diving and water polo, while the latter is exclusively a swimming championship. At the World Aquatics Championships, swimming events are contested in a long course, 50-metre pool and, at the World Swimming Championships (25m), as the name suggests, in a short course, 25-metre pool;

for this reason, the latter championship is known, colloquially, as the ‘Short Course Worlds’.

The World Aquatics Championships is, by some way, the older of the pair, having first been hosted by the Tašmajdan Sports and Recreation Centre in Belgrade – which is now in Serbia, but was, at the time, in Yugoslavia – between August 31 and September 9, 1973. In terms of scheduling, between 2001 and 2019, the World Aquatics Championships were staged biennially, but the Covid-19 pandemic threw future plans into disarray. The 2021 event, originally scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, took place in Budapest, Hungary in 2022 instead, with future events planned for Fukuoka in 2023, Doha, Qatar in 2024, Kallang, Singapore in 2025 and Budapest again in 2027.

The first edition of World Swimming Championships (25m) took place in in Palma de Mallorca, Spain between December 2 and December 5, 1993. Like the World Aquatics Championships, the event is staged biennially, in the intervening years, albeit that the 2020 championships, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, were delayed by a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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