World championships parade
Courtesy of: BCN2013
BARCELONA, Spain, July 18. IN a statement sent out today, FINA definitely feels proud heading into the FINA World Aquatics Championships this weekend with word that it will break its previous participation record with 181 nations registered to compete. That number surpasses the previous record of 178 set back in 2011 in Shanghai.

"It is a pleasure to be here in Barcelona once again, which hosted an extraordinary FINA World Championships in 2003," FINA President Julio C. Maglione said. "What is going to be a very important attraction at this edition and that is for the first time in the history of these Championships is High Diving. With this discipline on the program, the FINA World Championships in Barcelona promise to be a great spectacle, held in outstanding and iconic venues."

Additionally, FINA announced that 2,293 athletes have registered, including 21 slated to compete in the new high diving event. The official breakdown is 1,144 for Swimming, 231 for Diving, 21 for High Diving, 173 for Open Water, 416 for Water Polo and 308 for Synchronized Swimming. At the 2011 event, 2,220 athletes participated in Shanghai.

In sum, 68 finals will be held throughout the 16-day competition kicking off with opening ceremonies tomorrow night.

"We are about to start these World Championships that we prepared with great excitement," Barcelona Mayor Xavier Trias said. "We have established a challenge, our desire is to organize the best World Championships in history and the city of Barcelona has the capacity to make that possible for many reasons. We experienced that when we hosted the FINA World Championships in 2003 and once again Barcelona will shine as the world capital of sports and as a city of culture, knowledge, innovation and well-being."

The United States, as expected, is sending the most athletes to Barcelona, with 193 on the roster across all sports (50 in swimming). China is right behind with 191 (47 in swimming), while Canada ranks third with 167 (34 in swimming).

On the opposite end of the participation spectrum, Somalia is only sending one athlete to competition, and the Cook Islands and Lesotho will be represented by two athletes each.