Courtesy: Szabolcs Birkás / Hungarian Swimming Federation
It has become a tradition of the local organizers of the World Aquatics Swimming World Cup series that on top of the regular, three-day competition program there is always some kind of a fun relay to further entertain the spectators in Budapest. During the first event in 2018, Eric Moussambani swam against six athletes coming from other, non-swimming-related disciplines, a year later there was a relay with theatre and series actors, whereas in 2021 frontline workers, musicians and pop stars had a unique, 4x25m competition.
This October, we organized a 4x50m relay where the Hungarian Olympic Committee and eight other Hungarian Sports Federations (athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, handball, judo, kayak-canoe, wrestling) entered their teams. Among their members, there were current and former champions, youth athletes, federation executives and office staff.
In the next few points, we will briefly explain why we believe that in the case of such a hugely popular Olympic sport as swimming, it is a good idea to organize gala programs and additional events.
- Extend the competition calendar. Swimming is ranked in the top three sports of the Olympic Games, ever since the first edition in Athens. Even so, because of the nature and competition calendar of the sport only the summer games in every four years and the biennial World Aquatics Championships/World Swimming Championships (25m) generate a global interest (we do not consider the continental competitions and the hugely popular US college swimming format). That’s why AQUA (the international governing body of aquatics) is making efforts so that the Swimming World Cup series becomes even more attractive for the athletes. This way an additional series – held every year – is attainable for fans in different cities of the world.
- Reach a wider audience. Whenever we organize a gala program that involves participants from other fields of life, then we have the chance to get into mainstream media and not just into sport-related news. This is the case even when we invite athletes who otherwise do not have swimming in their discipline (unlike water polo, triathlon or pentathlon), as it does generate an interest how fencers, wrestlers, gymnasts or track and field athletes perform in the pool.
- Promotion of swimming. This point speaks for itself, as on the one hand, our aim is that our current swimmers compete in front of a packed swimming arena, while the long-term goal is to continuously have a wide youth base who choose swimming, as their number 1 sport.
We have to admit it does create additional working hours to realize an event in the event, but it is worth the effort. This year we gained many new fans and friends, and all sports federations were very enthusiastic and grateful for their involvement. We must also mention that altogether we had 3 more exhibition programs (so a total of 4 additional relays after the 6 regular competition sessions), as we also provided the chance for our “Learn to Swim” children to test the pool of Duna Arena, we held a relay for our sponsors and the World Cup was concluded with a special “Golden Race” relay, held for the winners of every 100m stroke.
In December 2024 we will host the World Swimming Championships (25m), so get ready everyone, as Budapest will definitely offer some unique twists and turns.