Though we’re still waiting on the official psych sheets for the 2011 World Championships to be released, we did get some preliminary facts and figures from FINA, the sports governing body, about participation in the swimming world’s biggest non-Olympic event.
This year’s event will have 181 countries participate across the five aquatics disciplines (swimming, open water swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, and water polo), which is 9 more than Rome in 2009. That will make this the most international World Championship event ever, with participants ranging from the familiar giants like the United States, Australia, Russia, the UK, and of course China, to their tiny neighbors like Benin, Singapore, and the Bahamas.
The actual number of participants, on the other hand, will be slightly down from 2009, with an estimated 2,220 athletes expected (Rome’s final tally was 2,438). The drop is attritbuted to FINA instituting swimming qualifying standards for the first time in the meet’s history.
Swimming has now become the second-most internationallty diverse championship in the world (behind Track & Field – “Athletics” – which had 202 participating nations in its most recent World Championship event). Effectively, the number of nations represented at the meet has increased by 5% in just two years, which is a huge figure. This is a great sign for our sport to still be growing so rapidly, despite being one of the oldest in the history of athletic competition.