FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), 1993-2008 - A story of success

FINA World Swimming Championships (25m)

credit: gettyimagesGiven the development of Swimming, which progressed from one recognised season into two different periods of the year – typically, for the North Hemisphere, comprising the long course (50m-pool) season in Spring/Summer, and the short course (25m-pool) during Autumn/Winter -, FINA formally approved the first short course world records in 1991, opening the door to the organisation of the first FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in 1993.

The first edition took place in Palma de Mallorca (ESP), and since then nine editions took place, in Rio de Janeiro (BRA, 1995), Gothenburg (SWE, 1997), Hong Kong (HKG, 1999), Athens (GRE, 2000), Moscow (RUS, 2002), Indianapolis (USA, 2004), Shanghai (CHN, 2006), and Manchester (GBR, 2008). The 10th edition will be held in Dubai (UAE), from December 15-19, 2010, while the 11th edition is already scheduled for Istanbul (TUR), in December 2012.

PALMA DE MALLORCA (ESP)
December 2-5, 1993
313 swimmers from 46 countries
15 World Records (2 Men, 13 Women)

Held in a “classical” indoor swimming pool, the championships were dominated by the Chinese swimmers in the women’s events. Out of the 16 races on the programme, China got 10 gold medals, with Jingyi Le getting five of them (50m and 100m, plus the three relays), and her teammate Guohong Dai earning four titles (100m and 200m breaststroke, 400m individual medley and the 4x100m medley relay). The remaining victories went to USA (four), Australia and Great Britain (one each).

In the men’s field, there was a wider variety of countries with gold medals, with the supremacy going to Australia and United States (three each). Mark Foster (GBR) was the fastest in the 50m free and obtained in Palma his first out of 13 medals at these championships (from 1993 to 2008!). On the other end, Franck Esposito’s victory in the 200m butterfly remains the only gold medal from France (both men and women) in the history of the championships.

alt

Jingyi Le (CHN) - credit: gettyimages

RIO DE JANEIRO (BRA)
November 30 – December 3, 1995
350 swimmers from 57 countries
4 World Records (4 Women)

The scenario changed drastically in Rio de Janeiro, where the championships were held on a temporary pool in the most famous beach in the world: Copacabana. Without a strong opposition (the USA did not send its best team), Australia dominated the competition, with 12 gold medals (seven among men and five in the women’s field). The heroes of the competition were Australians Matthew Dunn, Dan Kowalski and Samantha Riley, all with three titles each, with Riley establishing new World Records in the 100m and 200m breaststroke.

At home, Gustavo Borges made the delight of the Brazlian “torcida” getting four medals, while Costa Rica’s Claudia Poll got two victories among women (200m and 400m free), being until today the only athlete from her country with medals in this competition.

GOTHENBURG (SWE)
April 17-20, 1997
501 swimmers from 71 countries
8 World Records (2 Men, 6 Women)

As in Rio, Australia dominated the operations at the “Scandinavium” arena, where a temporary pool was installed. With a total of nine gold medals (and 17 awards overall), Australians had in Matthew Dunn (three titles), Michael Klim (2), Grant Hackett (2) and Kristy Ellem (2) the stars of the company. With his five presences on the podium, Klim was particularly successful and his Gothenburg performances helped in his status of second most medalled male swimmer in the history of these championships (a total of 15 medals, including five gold, from 1995 to 1999).

Jenny Thompson (USA), the best ever in terms of medals in this competition (17, including nine gold, from 1997 to 2004), started her collection in Sweden, earning four awards. James Hickman (GBR) would also start in Gothenburg the unprecedented feat of five consecutive victories in the same event, from 1997 to 2004, in the men’s 200m butterfly.


alt

Michael Klim (AUS) - credit: gettyimages

HONG KONG (HKG)
April 1-4, 1999
516 swimmers from 61 countries
8 World Records (3 Men, 5 Women)

With Australia again in the lead (nine gold medals, for a total of 27 awards), fierce competition came from Japan in the women’s events, with both Masami Tanaka and Mai Nakamura getting three titles each. Ian Thorpe (AUS) made his appearance in the competition (winning three medals), while his teammates Matthew Dunn and Grant Hackett continued earning medals. “Almost” at home, these championships marked the decline of China, with only one title (and six presences in the podium).

Martina Moravcova (SVK) got three titles in Hong Kong, reinforcing her position of second best ever of these championships – also 17 medals like Thompson, but with “only” seven gold, between 1995 and 2006!

ATHENS (GRE)
March 16-19, 2000
563 swimmers from 78 countries
15 World Records (11 Men, 4 Women)

Arrived to the fifth edition of the championships, the USA finally emerged as the top-nation, with nine gold (and an overall 25 medals). Neil Walker (USA) was the man of the competition, with five titles (50m and 100m backstroke, 100m individual medley, 4x200m free and 4x100m medley relay). Moreover, he earned silver in the 50m butterfly and 4x100m free relay. Jenny Thompson and Chad Carvin completed the US golden series.

Among women, Therese Alshammar (SWE) collected four victories – 50m and 100m free, plus the 4x100m free and 4x100m medley relay. From 1997 to 2006, she is the third most medalled female athlete in the history of these championships, with 15 presences in the podium (including nine victories). Her compatriot Lars Frolander completed Sweden’s seven triumphs, with three titles in the men’s events (100m free, 100m butterfly, and 4x100m free).

alt

Neil Walker (USA) - credit: gettyimages

MOSCOW (RUS)
April 3-7, 2002
599 swimmers from 92 countries
7 World Records (2 Men, 5 Women)

At the renovated 1980 Olympic pool, the duel USA-AUS ended up being favourable to the Australians, with more gold medals (10 to eight), but less overall presences in the podium (18, against 26 for the Americans). However, the brightest star in the Russian capital was once more Therese Alshammar and her four wins – 50m and 100m free, 4x100m free and 4x100m medley relay. Her Swedish teammate Emma Igelstrom got three triumphs also among women, while the best in the men’s field was Grant Hackett (AUS), also with three victories.

Yana Klochkova (UKR), who had been one of the best at the Olympics in 2000 (and would repeat the same brilliant performances in 2004) also took home three gold medals, in the women’s 400m free, 200m and 400m individual medley.

INDIANAPOLIS (USA)
October 7-10, 2004
502 swimmers from 94 countries
4 World Records (3 Men, 1 Women)

In the superb “Conseco Fieldhouse”, home of the NBA team “Indiana Pacers”, all the winners were “rewarded” with a live anthem performed by a choir of young children, and USA naturally dominated the operations, with a total of 41 medals (including 21 gold). However, the “most valuable swimmer” of the competition was Brooke Hanson (AUS), with her amazing six gold medals: 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke, 100m and 200m individual medley, and 4x100m individual medley. She is the only athlete up to date to have won six gold medals in the same edition of the championships.

On the men’s side, Brendan Hansen (USA) got four titles, while his teammates Aaron Peirsol, Jason Lezak and Ian Crocker earned three gold each. Before withdrawing due to a back injury, Michael Phelps won the 200m free – it constitutes his only medal and appearance so far in the history of these championships.

alt

Brooke Hanson (AUS) - credit: gettyimages

SHANGHAI (CHN)
April 5-9, 2006
578 swimmers from 117 countries
5 World Records (3 Men, 2 Women)

Held also on a temporary pool at the spectacular Qizhong Stadium, these championships were highlighted by the number of participating countries (for the first time, more than 100). In terms of performances, Australia was the best in China, with more gold medals (12) and more medals overall (25) than the USA (six and 21, respectively). Individually, Ryan Lochte (USA) was the male swimmer of the championships, with his six medals (gold in the 200m backstroke, 200m and 400m individual medley, silver in the 4x100m medley relay, and bronze in the 4x100m and 4x200m free relay). Thanks to this result, Lochte is presently the most medalled swimmer of the championships, with 15 awards between 2004 and 2008.

Among women, Australia’s Lisbeth Lenton (Trickett) was the swimmer to watch, with her five gold (50m and 100m free, 100m butterfly, 4x200m and 4x100m medley relay) and one silver (4x100m free relay). Matt Welsh, also from Australia, left Shanghai with four gold, while three other athletes got triple golden: among men, Ryk Neethling (RSA), and in the women’s events Jessicah Schipper (AUS) and Hui Qi (CHN).

MANCHESTER (GBR)
April 9-13, 2008
607 swimmers from 116 countries
18 World Records (7 Men, 11 Women)

Benefitting from an innovative sport presentation, the competition at the “Manchester Evening News” arena saw the US swimmers at the top of the medal chart, with 10 victories, against eight for their Australian arqui-rivals. However, the nation with more medals overall was the host Great Britain, with 24 presences in the podium (announcing a brilliant performance some months later at the Olympics in Beijing).

Individually, Ryan Lochte (USA) was once more the male swimmer to follow, with four victories (100m, 200m and 400m individual medley, and the 4x100m free relay) and two silver in the 200m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay. Moreover, he set four new World records in Manchester. Among women, Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) also got four triumphs: 100m and 200m backstroke, and 200m and 400m individual medley. Marleen Veldhuis (NED) was the third swimmer with four wins in 2008: women’s 50m and 100m free, 4x100m and 4x200m free relay.


alt

Kirsty Coventry (ZIM) - credit: gettyimages