With the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships and FINA Aquatics Festival in Abu Dhabi having now drawn to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reminisce on our top five moments from six days of strong competition on Yas Island.
I. Four new world records broken
Throughout the event, held at the iconic Etihad Arena, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, an impressive four new world records were broken. After taking gold in the 10km open water event as part of the Aquatics Festival, Florian Wellbrock (GER) went on to set a new men's 1500m Freestyle world record, a 14:06.88 performance over the metric mile.
The 15th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) also saw Siobhan Haughey (HKG) set a new record of 1:50.43 in the women’s 200m Freestyle, while Margaret MacNeil (CAN) smashed the new short course world standard in the 50m Backstroke. Finally, crowds were lucky enough to witness Sweden equalling the 4x50m Medley Relay world record set by the USA in the event’s previous edition.
II. A new short course world championships record of 28 countries claiming at least one medal
First short course medal and a new African Record in the 1500m Freestyle for 🇹🇳Ahmed Hafnaoui— FINA (@fina1908) December 21, 2021
After witnessing more than 900 athletes from 183 National Federations across all five continents compete for six arduous days, by the end, it was an inspiration internationally to see twenty-eight countries listed on the event medal table. This makes it the highest number of countries ever to receive medals at a single edition of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m).
III. Ranomi Kromowidjojo’s exceptional medal haul
Many records were broken here!— FINA (@fina1908) December 22, 2021
In the WOMEN'S 50m Freestyle FINAL Sarah Sjostrom went full gas becoming the first 🇸🇪 swimmer to achieve 14 World Titles!
🇳🇱 @ranomikromo 🥈 is now the most decorated female athlete at the short course with 28 medals!#FINAAbuDhabi2021 pic.twitter.com/6UMnznhCob
During the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Abu Dhabi, Dutch swimmer and three-time Olympic gold medallist Ranomi Kromowidjojo (NED) became the most decorated female in short course history, winning an outstanding 28 medals throughout a series of gruelling swimming competitions. In total, Kromowidjojo was awarded fourteen gold medals, nine silver medals and five bronze medals over the course of the World Championships in Abu Dhabi.
IV. High Diving: the most difficult dive ever attempted was performed -- and led to victory
As part of the Abu Dhabi Aquatics festival the exciting FINA High Diving event served as the final qualifying event ahead of the 19th FINA World Championships, which is scheduled to take place in Fukuoka, Japan in May 2022.
19-year-old Aidan Heslop (GBR) wowed the crowds on Monday afternoon with his stunning final dive which saw him demonstrate an awe-inspiring 6.2 degree of difficulty. Heslop, who later stated that he had been dreaming of this moment his whole life, remained composed throughout the competition and received straight sevens from the judges which were just enough to help him claim the gold medal, with a staggering 436.90 points in total.
V. First time diving into the sea
The 15th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) also saw another first for the FINA history books: international high diving competitors diving off a tower structure into the open ocean instead of a traditional swimming pool. Many had never experienced diving into saltwater before, but this newly introduced element to the competition was welcomed with open arms. Comments by competitors included: “the setup of the venue was just great,” that “it’s great to show the public how diving can be successful in this environment,” that it was, “a great new experience,” and “it is cool to be diving into the ocean.”