DUBLIN, Ireland, November 18. IRELAND will host its first major international swimming event next month when the 2003 European Short Course Swimming Championships are staged at the National Aquatic Center from December 11th to 14th. The European Championships, hosted by Swim Ireland, were secured for Dublin with the support of Fáilte Ireland (Irish Tourist Board) through the International Sports Tourism Initiative.
The European Short Course Swimming Championships will attract a record 40 countries with over 550 swimmers competing. The entry list includes teams from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Serbia & Montenegro as well as better known swimming nations such as The Netherlands, France and Britain. 36 European titles are up for grabs and the competitors will include a host of World, Olympic and European champions.
Short course swimming races are held in 25 meter pools. The European Championships will be staged in the National Aquatic Center’s Olympic standard ten-lane competition pool, which can be divided into three 25 meter courses. The National Aquatic Center can cater for up to 2,000 spectators and tickets are now available to the public. TG4 will broadcast two hours of action everyday and Championships will be broadcast throughout Europe. Swim Ireland will have a team of 200 volunteers working throughout the Championships.
Irish interest will center on Ireland’s twelve-person team drawn from the North and South. Medal hopefuls include Andrew Bree, Michael Williamson, Chantal Gibney and Emma Robinson.
The European Short Course Swimming Championships is one of 16 events supported by Fáilte Ireland’s International Sports Tourism Initiative in 2003. The Initiative, established by the Government in 2000, targets and sponsors international sporting events, which can enhance Ireland’s reputation as a premier sports tourism destination.
Commenting on Ireland’s hosting of the European Short Course Swimming Championships, John O‘Donoghue T.D., Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said: “It is precisely such prestigious events as this, that the Government identified when developing this new state of the art national amenity. Added to the significant tourism revenue that the European Championships will generate, this world-class event will create invaluable media exposure for Ireland across many of our key tourism markets. The successful staging of these European Championships will reaffirm Ireland’s reputation as an ideal destination for major sporting event".
Shaun Quinn, Chief Executive, Fáilte Ireland said, “With up to 850 competitors, coaches and team members traveling to Dublin for the European Short Course Swimming Championships, the event will provide a welcome out-of-season tourism boost for the Capital. Fáilte Ireland has worked closely with Swim Ireland over the past 18 months securing these major championships. The European Championships will place Dublin in the world’s shop window and showcase the Capital as a versatile holiday destination.”
Betty Beatie, President, Swim Ireland said, “The European Championships are not to be missed. I would encourage everyone to take opportunity to come and see some of the world’s best swimmers in action against our own talent. We are very grateful for Fáilte Ireland’s support, from the initial bid process right up to today’s announcement. I look forward to a wonderful European Championships and I am confident that this will lead to many more major international sporting events for Ireland.”
The National Aquatic Centre, which was the venue for the swimming events of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in June 2003, has attracted close to 700,000 visitors since it was opened in March this year.