European Aquatics Championships 2021: All you need to know

Your one-stop preview for the LEN European championships (10-23 May) including top swimming, artistic swimming, marathon swimming, and diving athletes to look out for, event schedule, and how to watch.

By Andrew Binner
Picture by 2019 Getty Images

The 2021 LEN European Aquatics Championships signify the return of major international competition in swimming, marathon swimming, artistic swimming, and diving.

The event will take place 10-23 May in Budapest, Hungary - almost exactly a year after the event's original dates before the coronavirus-enforced postponement.

Swimming, diving, and artistic swimming will be staged at the impressive Danube Arena, while open water swimming will be held nearby at Lupa Lake. The events will be organised in a fan-free and coronavirus-safe bubble system, where only athletes, team staff, organisers and volunteers will be allowed to enter the venues.

With Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification berths still up for grabs, and the opportunity to test themselves against potential Games rivals, expect fierce competition from some of the world’s top aquatics stars.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification event

Many nations have chosen to use these championships as a qualification event for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

For some athletes, it will be their first and only shot at producing an Olympic qualifying time. For others who didn't make the required times at their national Olympic trials, it presents another opportunity to do so.

There are also several athletes like Adam Peaty and Duncan Scott who have already qualified for the Olympics, but will compete in Budapest in order to fine-tune their race technique against world-class opposition.

Peaty, Hosszu, Manadou and others to watch out for

After coming out of retirement in 2019, France’s Florent Manadou is returning to his best form. The London 2012 Olympic gold medallist will be favourite to land the title in his favoured 50m freestyle. Hungarian ‘Iron Lady’ Katinka Hosszu will be looking to reassert her dominance in the individual medleys, while big things are expected of her compatriot - and 200m butterfly world record holder - Kristof Milak.

A man that needs no introduction is Great Britain’s Adam Peaty. After securing the top 20 fastest times in the 100m breaststroke ever earlier this month, it would take a miracle to unseat the reigning Olympic champ.

Elsewhere, Italy’s Federica Pellegrini is expected to win the 200m free, while her compatriot Simona Quadarella will look to defend her 400m, 800m and 1500m titles. Pernille Blume of Denmark will be hoping to find some form ahead of her 50m free Olympic title defence in Japan, while it remains to be seen whether Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom has healed sufficiently from her broken arm to take part in the freestyle and butterfly sprints.

Team GB’s divers to lead the way

Great Britain and the Russian Diving Federation lead the way in Europe when it comes to diving, and the two nations will expect to dominate again in Budapest.

All eyes will be on reigning Olympic champion Jack Laugher who has already qualified for Tokyo 2020, and is expected to dominate the individual 3m synchro event. He will team up with Dan Goodfellow in the synchro and, despite being a relatively new pair in diving terms, their silver medal in the 2019 world championships hints at vast potential to come.

Olympic qualifier and three-time European champion Tom Daley is a favourite in the individual 10m platform, and alongside Matty Lee will renew their synchro rivalry with Russian divers Aleksandr Bondar and Viktor Minibaev.

Two-time European champion Grace Reid qualified for the Olympics after reaching the World Diving Championship 3m springboard final in 2019.

Marathon swimming’s exciting rivalry

There will be three open water events at the 2021 European Championships: the 5km, 10km and 25km.

Without doubt, the most exciting showdown will take place at the Olympic distance of 10km, where Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri and Florian Wellbrock of Germany will renew their intriguing rivalry.

Both men will also compete in the 800m and 1500m swimming events, with the hope of becoming the first athlete ever to win gold medals in both swimming and marathon swimming at the same Olympics.

Paltrinieri won 1500m gold at the Rio Olympics, and holds the European record in the 800m and 1500m, while Wellbrock is the reigning 1500m and 10km world champion.

Artistic swimming dominance

The Russian Synchronised Swimming Federation won nine out of 10 gold medals at the 2019 world championships, and are set to dominate these European Championships.

Leading the team will be five-time Olympic and 18-time world champion Svetlana Romashina, who is the joint most successful artistic swimmer in history.

Her new partner is Rio 2016 team gold medallist Svetlana Kolesnichenko, and beating them will take some doing.

Watch out for Spain's unique new choreography, which will include some sign language! The Euro Champs will also be Ona Carbonell's first tournament since giving birth in August.

The artistic swimming Olympic Qualifiers take place next month in Barcelona.

Schedule

10-14 May - Artistic swimming

10-16 May - Diving

12-16 May - Marathon swimming

17-23 May - Swimming

For a daily breakdown of events, check out the official schedule here.

How to watch

All action will be streamed on our platform (run by EBU) with live on-site commentary, offered free for the fans.