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Knowledge sharing between organisers of consecutive World Championships - Farewell from Windsor, Budapest gets ready

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Photo: Szabolcs Birkás

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Having recently returned from the World Swimming Championships (25m), the Budapest 2017 organisers dedicated the first days back in the office to summarise, organise and analyse the invaluable experiences gained in Windsor.

The local Organising Committee of Windsor 2016 ran a well-built, interesting and much useful Observer Programme for their ‘remote Colleagues’ (including the organizers of the 2017 European Short Course Swimming Championships to be held in Denmark, the hosts of the Hangzhou 2018 World Swimming Championships (25m) and the team of Budapest 2017) between the heats and the evening finals on two consecutive days. The insights, practices, tips and personal experiences transferred were priceless, and they have already been shared internally with the rest of the Hungarian organisers upon return to the Budapest 2017 headquarters.

Taking part in the Observer Programme, it became clear to see that the Canadians had totally different challenges at the early stages of their project compared to those of the organisers of the 17th FINA World Championships.

Four years ago upon submitting their bid, the appointed executive director - who is of English descent – held a speech at the City Hall, where a certain sentence of his made headlines in the local newspaper: ‘Where the hell is Windsor?’.

Fair enough, as most of the world with a good grasp of history or geography would not associate Windsor with the southernmost city of Canada, but with the glorious residence of the British Royal Family in England.

However, the small city in Ontario became committed to run for the prestigious FINA event, which aimed at fulfilling several long-term strategic goals ranging from changing perceptions of the city by ’placing it on the map’ to developing a sports tourism market and enhancing the city’s national and international image and reputation.

As the organisers of the upcoming FINA World Championships, the Budapest 2017 team says goodbye to Windsor with the following important lessons learnt and memories:

  • Even if not the entire world, but the very best of the international swimming - and thanks to the FINA Convention the entire aquatics - community already know where Windsor is.
  • There is raison d’etre in combing permanent and temporary facilities: the competition pool (a similar solution from Budapest here: http://www.fina-budapest2017.com/en/locations/city-park-varosliget-lake) was installed in an ice rink perfectly serving the purpose, especially in such an environment where everything is about hockey. The new swimming pool built as a legacy for the local community was used as a stand-alone training venue.
  • Enthusiasm and endurance of the volunteers are among the top priorities for Organising Committees irrespectively of the sport discipline and the location of any event.

The well-known, giant water polo ball, the promotional stand of Budapest 2017 also received a lot of attention and positive feedback during the Convention and the Championships in Windsor.

Many visitors expressed their great memories of Budapest, and those who could not yet come have been encouraged to pay a visit to Hungary on the occasion of the 17th FINA World Championships. A few swimming fans even sighed with relief that some of the greatest local home stars and swimming icons of 2017 – László Cseh and Dániel Gyurta – were just missing the Windsor event to gather more strength for the summer showdown in front of home crowds.

The Budapest 2017 promotional stand was visited and praised by many participating athletes and even their parents, including the father (Bert) of Chad Le Clos and the mother (Alison) of Canadian Olympic champion Penny Oleksiak.

Regardless of age and nationality, the newly presented Budapest mascots, Lilly and Lali – the fairy waterlilies - made everyone smile, they are already truly beloved protagonists representing the greatest event Hungary has ever hosted.

The entire Organising Committee of the next FINA World Championships hopes that all delegations, visitors, guests will have a memorable time in Budapest and Balatonfüred and that it will be the most successful and recognised aquatics event of all times! Looking forward to meeting soon in Hungary, until then Happy Holidays and all the best for 2017!