The 15th edition of the Fina World Swimming Championships concluded on Tuesday, after an incredible week of world-class sporting competition took place at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island. To celebrate the historic moment, key officials from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and Fina attended the championships closing events and ceremony.
The closing press conference was attended by Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Captain Husain Al Musallam, Fina President, and Brent Nowicki, Fina Executive Director. They were joined by several swimmers and high-divers who displayed the very best of aquatic talent during the Championships and Aquatics Festival, competing in front of thousands of spectators and millions of TV viewers around the world.
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Guests included Chad Le Clos, Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games champion, Siobhan Haughey, Women’s 200m/100m Freestyle champion in Abu Dhabi, and Aidan Heslop Fina High Diving Qualifier 2021 gold medallist
The conference was held to mark the end of the Championships and paid tribute to the incredible achievements of some of the world’s best sporting stars. Over the course of the week’s exhilarating competition, fans inside the Etihad Arena witnessed several new records set, including four World Records.
Haughey stormed to a world record of 1:50.31 in the women’s 200m Freestyle while Sweden equalled the 4x50m Medley Relay world record set by USA in the event’s previous edition. Haughey and the Swedish quartet earned an additional $50,000 for their record-setting performances.
As well as the newly crowned world champions, the Championships also featured a wide array of talented swimmers from across the world including Alaa Maso, the lone member of the Fina Refugee Team, who fled his home nation Syria to pursue his swimming ambitions.
Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said: “Over the last week, Abu Dhabi has been at the centre of the swimming global sphere with more than 1,100 athletes, from over 183 countries competing not only in the swimming pool, but also across high-diving and the open water swimming, for a prize purse of $3.2m — the highest in Fina’s history.
“The action was broadcast to a global TV audience across 133 countries, including CCTV in China, NBC in North America, Super Sports across Africa and our host broadcasters, Abu Dhabi Sports Channel. During an exhilarating week of world-class sporting competition, we have witnessed 4 World Records being broken, with a total of 46 crowned World Champions.
“I’d like to extend my thanks to the media. Over the past week, we have hosted 160 accredited media to this world-class venue. I hope you have enjoyed your time here at Etihad Arena. I would also like to thank Captain Husain, Taha Alkushari and our friends at FINA, and for all the participating countries and athletes.
“We are also sending our best wishes to the 2022 organising committee in Kazan, Russia, as they embark on their journey to delivering the next Short Course World Championships.”
Al Musallam, Fina President added: “This week, the world’s most talented swimmers lined up on the world stage to display their talent and abilities to thousands of spectators inside the Etihad Arena and of course to millions of TV viewers around the world. This led to plenty of thrilling action in the pool with four World Records being broken, making the 15th edition of the Championships among the finest in the event’s history.
“This exemplifies that our sport is going in the right direction as more people around the world aspire to be the next world champion. Whether the athletes have won a medal or not, we believe every swimmer who has competed this week is indeed a winner. We understand travelling and participating in these challenging times is not easy, but I would like to express my gratitude to them for being here in Abu Dhabi and helping make this edition a resounding success.”
Haughey said: “It was amazing to know that I was the first person from Hong Kong, China to win a world championship and break a world record. I’m sure in the future there will be a lot of up-and-coming swimmers who can achieve the same thing too. Since day one, when I broke the world record, the Hong Kong, China team has been doing really well and made a lot of finals and it’s been a great week for the whole country.”