Looking back on 111 years of FINA history

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Looking back on 111 years of FINA history

The 18th edition of the FINA World Championships begins in Gwangju today, the latest edition of an international festival of swimming and aquatics sports that has a history stretching back more than a century.

FINA, the Federation internationale de natation - or the International Swimming Federation in English - is an international federation that oversees water sports, recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). FINA oversees six different water sports: swimming, artistic swimming, open water swimming, diving, high diving and water polo.

The federation was established more than 100 years ago, on July 19, 1908, when it was founded by eight nations in London. It first started with eight national swimming federations, but there are now 207 national swimming federations as members.

FINA headquarters is located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

FINA organizes championships and world cups for each sport every year, but of the many events, the biennial World Aquatics Championships is perhaps the biggest one of all.

The very first edition of the World Aquatics Championships was held in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia, with four sports: swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo. Open water swimming was added to the World Championships in 1991 and high diving was the latest addition to the championships, as it was added in 2013.

But it’s not only the addition of two new water sports that’s changed. Most recently, during the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia, mixed events were added in swimming, diving and synchronized swimming.

The first two editions were held biennially, but from 1978 to 1998, it was held as a quadrennial event during even years. Yet starting from 2001, the World Aquatics Championships was switched back to a biennial event, held in odd years.

Looking at the all-time medal table at the championships, the United States’ record stands out. They’ve won the most number of medals at 586, with 253 gold, 193 silver and 140 bronze.

The United States has a dominant record in swimming. They’ve managed to pick up 208 gold medals just from swimming. Not only that, they also lead the all-time medal table in high diving with three and women’s water polo with five.

Following the United States, China is second in the race at 296 medals - 130 gold, 95 silver and 71 bronze. Just like the Olympics, China has been dominant in diving. Of their 130 gold medals, 83 were won from diving events.

Russia is third in all-time medal table at 210 medals - 93 gold, 62 silver and 55 bronze. Russia has shown their dominance in synchronized swimming, as 51 out of their 93 gold medals were won from the sport. In addition to synchronized swimming, Russia has also won the most medals in open water swimming at 12.

Although Australia has more medals than Russia in total, Russia is still ahead on the table as they’ve won more gold throughout the championships.

BY KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]
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