LONG BEACH, Calif., June 26. IT is an aquatics lover's paradise. The events in Long Beach this summer mark the biggest aquatic spectacle to land in the U.S. since the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, according to reports from world swimming organization FINA.
And for women's water polo it's not just anyone who is competing. It is all eight teams that will be face off in at the Athens Olympic Games. After swimming fans thrilled to world class performances last week in the Janet Evans Invitational, fans of water polo have not been disappointed with the fast-paced action in the pool that started June 23rd in the FINA Women's Water Polo World League Super Final at the Charter All-Digital Aquatic Center in Long Beach, California.
The world-class venue, located just a few hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean and in the shadow of the Long Beach Convention Center, seats 10,000 people and has added an Olympic feel to athletes, coaches and spectators alike. The venue did not exist 60 days ago. It was a parking lot just off the course of the Long Beach Grand Prix. It has been completely transformed into the world's best aquatic complex. Two 50 meter Myrtha pools were built within eyesight of the Pacific Ocean and just walking distance to the famous Queen Mary which is docked permanently just across the harbor.
Over 30 days, the state of the art Charter All-Digital Aquatic Centre in Long Beach is acting as home to some of the world's top swimmers and water polo athletes; and all of them in top shape for the 2004 Olympics looming on the not-so-distant horizon. At the heart of the action will be the two biggest water polo events in the world before Athens: the 2004 men's (July 16-18) and women's FINA World League Super Finals (June 23-27).
A "Ladies' First" in Long Beach
The girls want to have fun, too. And so they are. This year marks the first FINA Women's World League Super Final. Originally scheduled to unveil a full women's league schedule in 2005, FINA has decided to push the schedule up a bit with an eight-team Super Final. And what eight teams will have the privilege of competing in this first year, you ask?
The world's best list of women's water polo teams at this tournament will include No. 1 ranked USA, No. 2-ranked Italy, No. 3 Russia, No. 4 Canada, No. 5 Hungary, No. 7 Australia, No. 9 Greece and No. 13 Kazakhstan.