Swimming is finally on at the “Duna Arena” in Budapest! The start of the FINA World Championships in the Magyar capital is scheduled for July 14, 2017, but the superb facility hosting the swimming and diving competitions during the FINA showcase event, welcomes these days the first athletes in its 50m-pool. From June 1-4, the Budapest Open will gather 321 swimmers in what constitutes an important test event for the Championships. The majority of the competitors naturally come from Hungary, but foreign delegations include Austria, Croatia, Lithuania, Panama, Slovakia, Sweden, and Vietnam.
It is the first swimming competition in the brand-new facility. The Duna Aquatics Arena, officially inaugurated last February, is situated to the north side of the Dagály Swimming Baths site on the east bank of the Danube river, in the heart of the Hungarian capital. It consists of two main facilities for the 2017 FINA World Championships: a permanent building with seating for up to 6,000 spectators and a temporary facility, constructed specifically for FINA’s major event, which will host additional stands (for a total of 12,000 seats in Championships’ mode) and support facilities. The complex includes two 50m-pools and one diving pool (all indoor).
“It is surely one of the best complexes of this kind in the world! I can recall the iconic Beijing ‘Water Cube’, or the outstanding venue in Dubai, but there aren’t many more of this level. The organisers of Budapest 2017 deserve FINA’s deep recognition and appreciation. Our swimmers and divers will have excellent conditions to compete!” says Cornel Marculescu, FINA Executive Director. He led a FINA delegation that was in the Magyar capital this week, discussing the latest stages of preparation for the 2017 FINA World Championships. “Besides the competition, the ‘Duna’ will also be a superb legacy for the city of Budapest”, he adds.
Inside the “Dune Arena”
But Mr. Marculescu also underlines the quality of the remaining venues constructed or refurbished for the Championships. “Another two iconic locations are the ones for synchronised swimming and high diving. They will both provide the most spectacular images of the competition here in Budapest!”
The FINA Executive Director referred to the unique setting being prepared in the City Park (Városliget). During winter time, this space is used for ice skating by both adults and children. This venue will be the location of the synchronised swimming competitions (seating capacity: 6,000), which will require two temporary pools, instead of ice, on the rink. These conditions will be exceptional: there is the scenic view of the park, the monumental sculptures of Heroes Square, the Vajdahunyad Castle next to the rink, and the historic building of the “Mucsarnok” Exhibition Hall. “FINA’s motto is ‘Water is our World’, but in this case we will have ‘Water on Water’”, underlines Mr. Marculescu.
The synchro venue is near completion
Moreover, the Danube river will once more be the protagonist at the high diving competition. Another iconic element of the Budapest landscape will complete the magic: the magnificent building of the Hungarian Parliament, the perfect background for the performances of the best high divers of the planet. The tower (20m board for the women’s competition and 27m platform for the men’s) will be erected in the Batthyany Square, exactly on the opposite side of the Magyar Parliament.
The water polo competition (8,000 seats) will be staged in the emblematic Margaret Island, well in the middle of the Danube river. The Alfred Hajós National Aquatics Complex was Hungary’s first indoor swimming pool and the premiere location for domestic water sports. In addition to hosting competitors of all ages in various aquatic sports – swimming, water polo, synchronised swimming, diving, scuba diving, modern pentathlon and triathlon – the facilities are also open for public use. The indoor swimming pool was built in 1930, on the basis of the plans and design of Hungary’s very first Olympic champion, Alfred Hajós. The outdoor pool and the diving facility were completed in 1937 and have been refurbished and extended several times since. Currently, eight open-air or covered swimming pools, and international standard diving platforms, covering nearly 80,000 m2 are available to professional and recreational athletes and the general public.
“’Water Polo’ and Margaret Island are deeply connected. Both are Hungarian institutions, but their reputation has gone well beyond the Magyar borders. The water polo competition will be thrilling there!” explains Mr. Marculescu.
Finally, the open water competition will be staged 120km away from Budapest. A true paradise for open water swimmers, Lake Balaton is a well-tested venue for major aquatic events. The course is located by the main promenade of Balatonfüred, which offers a brilliant view of the race and the Tihany peninsula. Balaton, Central Europe’s largest fresh-water lake, will be a comfortably warm and safe environment for participants. “The setting in Balaton is really spectacular. The landscape is beautiful and the area is well used to stage major events in open water. Again, a top-level venue that will be highly enjoyed by all our competitors”, finalises the FINA Executive Director.