The World Aquatics Championships – Fukuoka 2023 came to a close today after 17 days of World Record-breaking performances, dramatic finishes and penalty shootouts.
FUKUOKA (Japan) – Marking the 20th edition since the inaugural event was held 50 years ago, 2,361 athletes from a record-tying 191 countries and the World Aquatics Refugee Team competed in front of 135,000 spectators over the course of the championships.
The event again showed its global appeal as 320 hours of live video coverage and 17 hours of highlights programmes were distributed worldwide.
“Fukuoka has been an exceptional home for our athletes and our aquatics family. I will remember this city for its beauty. I will remember it for the wonderful friendly welcome that we have all received from every single person that we have met. But above all, I will remember Fukuoka for the incredible performances of our athletes,” said World Aquatics President Husain Al Musallam.
“Fukuoka is very special. Arigatou Japan, Arigatou Fukuoka.”
Swimmers set a stunning 10 World Records in Fukuoka, including France’s Leon Marchand in the men’s 400m Individual Medley as he surpassed the record Michael Phelps owned for 5110 days – the longest-held World Record in swimming history.
Mollie O’Callaghan added five world titles and four World Records – one individual in the women’s 200m Freestyle and three in the relays with her dominant Australian Dolphin teammates.
USA’s Katie Ledecky further cemented herself as the greatest freestyle swimmer in history by winning her 15th and 16th individual world titles, surpassing Phelps for the most career individual golds at the world championships. In the all-time individual world medal table, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom won her 20th and 21st medals to pass the 20 medals Phelps earned in his legendary career.
The depth and performance have never been higher in swimming as 38 Continental Records, 14 Championship Records and 4 World Junior Records were also set in Fukuoka.
In artistic swimming, a stunning week of competition saw Japan score the most points throughout the week to receive the overall winner award. Yukiko Inui of Japan repeated her double gold performance from last year in Hungary by winning both the women’s solo free and technical events.
"I am very happy that many people have come to support swimming today - even from my hometown of Shiga Prefecture,” Inui said. “I'm glad that I was able to deliver bright news to everyone who has been supporting me."
In diving, China continued its dominance as the country’s divers won gold in nearly all diving events. It took until the last round in the last diving event in Fukuoka, but Cassiel Rousseau – an ex-gymnast from Brisbane, Australia – broke China’s six-year streak of winning every global diving championship event they’ve contested in the men’s 10m Platform.
Athletes from 50 nations performed over 3,400 dives during the eight-day competition in a field that included nine Olympic medallists from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Tension was in the lofty air of high diving as Romania’s Constantin Popovici held onto his day one lead to the win from the men’s 27m tower.
Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland again showed she’s still the class of women’s high diving, winning her third consecutive world title from the 20m tower.
Germany asserted their dominance in open water swimming as Florian Wellbrock and Leonie Beck each won the men’s and women’s 5km and 10km events at Fukuoka’s Seaside Momochi Park. While Germany came in winning all four individual open water titles here, it was Olympic and World champion Gregorio Paltrinieri anchoring Italy to gold in the Mixed 4x1500m Relay that concluded the open water events in Fukuoka.
Women’s water polo saw the Netherlands return to the top step of the podium for the first time in 32 years as the Dutch scored a 17-16 penalty shootout win over Spain.
Regulation time wasn’t enough in the men’s water polo tournament, either, as Hungary overcame Greece in a 14-13 sudden-death penalty shootout. For Hungary, the 2023 title is their fourth overall title and their first since Barcelona hosted the World Aquatics Championships in 2013.
As part of World Aquatics’ ongoing commitment to the global development of aquatic sports, athlete programmes were held alongside the competitions in Fukuoka. These included athlete workshops on training, nutrition and mental health. Additional athlete-focused content included the World Aquatics Athletes' Committee meetings, athlete ambassador events, and cultural exchanges such as sumo wrestlers visiting the athletes and taking them through their flexibility and training routines.
Eighty-seven World Aquatics Scholarship holders competed in Fukuoka and for the third time in history the event also saw the participation of a World Aquatics Refugee Team comprised of Alaa Masoo and Eyad Masoud.
The World Aquatics General Congress was held during the second half of the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka and saw the election of Husain Al Musallam as President and Dale Neuburger as Treasurer.