15 December 2021; ABU DHABI (UAE)  FINA today reinforced its commitment to innovation and equal opportunity for all Aquatics disciplines as the inaugural Aquatics Festival began on the eve of the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m).

The Aquatics Festival marks the first time that athletes from Open Water Swimming, High Diving and Diving will compete alongside the World Swimming Championships (25m). The two events will run in parallel, with the short course world championships set to kick off tomorrow and run until 21 December with 943 confirmed athletes representing 183 countries registered to compete.

The Aquatics Festival began today with the first-ever Open Water Mixed Team 4x1500m Relay and over the next five days, 1156 athletes from 183 countries compete across the FINA/CNSG Marathon Swim World Series 2021, the FINA High Diving Qualifier 2021 and the FINA Diving Team Exhibition.

Acknowledging the stunning competition venues provided by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the UAE Swimming Federation for these events, the FINA President Husain Al-Musallam noted that history is being written in Abu Dhabi. 

“I would like to thank the Abu Dhabi Sports Council for their excellent partnership and cooperation which led to the successful event we saw today. Today, in Abu Dhabi we made history in Open Water with the Mixed Relay 4x1500m.

“As we all witnessed today, the relay was very exciting, with leading teams from different countries always changing. This is the start of the new modernization of FINA and the Aquatics sports family for the future.”

The FINA Executive Director Brent Nowicki also spoke on the themes of modernization and innovation in Aquatics sport.

“The word innovation is one the President uses often to inspire us to do and try different things. If we sit idle, the world of Aquatics sport will pass by us. We have to constantly push as the President said with new ideas, new innovations, new concepts.

“Sometimes they work, sometimes they will not. The message we are trying to send is that we’re willing to try. We’re going to keep trying to keep that inspiration going. The world of Aquatics sport has a long history. It also has a bright future, and we will continue to care for it. And the only way we can care for it is through innovation.”

Sultan Al Samahi, President of the UAE Swimming Federation, was also on stage and noted the inspirational opportunity hosting the events will have on the country’s next generation of swimmers.

“This coming week at the FINA World Swimming Championships, six of our most talented and promising swimmers will be lining up against the world’s best and will showcase their talent and abilities to thousands of spectators inside the Etihad Arena and of course to millions of TV viewers around the world.

His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said the local organising team faced challenges but felt they were in a "very good position" to deliver a safe event.

"We have to thank FINA for their leadership during this period. It has not been easy, so I am really proud to be standing here today. The eyes of the world will be on Yas Island this week. Over the coming days, we will demonstrate what this sport is all about - the skills, determination and teamwork as well as physical and mental power."