Danes On Track With European Short Course Championships Hosting Preparations

By Rokur Jakupsstovu, Swimming World Scandinavian correspondent

HERNING, Denmark, September 16. WITH less than three months to go until the 2013 European Short Course Championships held in Herning, Denmark, the meet organizers are working diligently to ensure that people will get “an experience they will always remember,” when the championships start on Dec. 12.

This will be the first time that Denmark will have hosted a championship event of this scale, with 600 of Europe’s best swimmers expected to participate and more than 16,000 spectators in sum for finals throughout four days of competition.

At the annual Aqua Clinic in Brondby, Sept. 5-7, event manager Jacob Staun presented plans and status of a promising, but also tightly-scheduled, event.

Having inspected host venue, the Jyske Bank Boxen, on Sept. 4, the European Federation (LEN) representative was impressed with what he saw and the plans the Danes have for the event itself as well as other extracurricular activities surrounding the meet.

“I leave with a good feeling in my stomach,” LEN managing director Marco Birri said. “My expectations were already high, but now they are even higher.”

The primary concern with what looks to be a smoothly-planned and executed event is the time for the pool setup. Myrtha Pool would like to have six days to set up the pools, but will only get four in Herning because Depeche Mode has already scheduled a concert at the Boxen arena on Nov. 29. The filling of the pools is expected to take 36 hours, so construction crews will now be working round the clock in three shifts to have the pools ready in time. The entire project entitled “To Fill The Box With Water” is expected to take approximately eight days before the European teams arrive for the final days of preparation ahead of the event start on Dec. 12.

The deconstruction of the facility will have to be as speedy after the conclusion of the championships on Dec. 15. The venue will host the annual Danish Sport Gala on Jan. 4 and the European men’s handball championships from Jan. 12-26, 2014.

Meet organizers, having finalized the deal with Myrtha Pools, has also made strides in terms of television broadcasting terms. TV2, a Danish television broadcast company, will have all sessions broadcast on either their main channel or its additional TV2 Zulu channel, should there be a conflict with the European women’s handball championships in Serbia. A sponsorship has also been secured with car rental company Sixt to supply the championships with various modes of transportation. Additionally, a main sponsorship with energy trading company EnergiDanmark, and others, are about to be finalized.

The website www.herning2013.com has been up and running for many months already, to gradually step into full gear as the event approaches, along with its social sister site www.facebook.com/EMsvomning2013, and the Danish Swimming Federation web sites www.svoem.org and www.svoem.dk

As of last weekend, meet organizers had sold 10,000 tickets with 6,000 already sold for finals. They are expecting a sellout for finals each night with sessions featuring 4,000 for spectators and 1,000 for teams and officials. There are currently only a few seats available in the lower tribune for Friday and Sunday, while premium tickets are already sold out for Saturday.

Friday night has been coined “The Big Danish Night,” with high expectations from four of Denmark’s top swimmers. Lotte Friis (800 free), Rikke Moller Pedersen (200 breast), Jeanette Ottesen (50 fly/100 free) and Mie Ostergaard Nielsen (100 back) are all slated to compete that day.

Plenty of other events are in the plans for the meet. A daily “Swimming and Dining” event, where attendees will be greeted with a drink and a short introduction of the night’s finals at 4 p.m., presented by one of the top swimmers, before watching the event from 4:30 until 7 p.m. Then, those in attendance, will enjoy a buffet of top Danish cuisine including drinks ad libitum from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

This event is a perfect opportunity for organizers to do a bit of “sponsor care,” as Staun put it. Also, a more humble “Swim Camp,” which is a more affordable package of tickets, accommodation and meals, will be available as well as some tailor-made special events, aimed at swim clubs are already almost completely sold out.

Other interesting features will be special requests from coaches and swimmers in the past. For instance, a planned coaches lounge, where coaches can go and relax and do a bit of networking. A good amount of lobbying has been made between the Nordic countries, for instance, moving the 2013 Nordic Juniors that should have been in the Faroe Islands on the same weekend to a week before, and the consensus seems to be that the Nordic countries will support these championships in record-breaking big numbers.

This Friday the arrangers revealed the official Herning 2013 mascot, a “true Danish viking who loves swimming,” with his name to be chosen by an ongoing naming-competition.

The LEN 2013 European Short Course Championships is arranged by an organizing triangle consisting of Sport Event Denmark, the Danish national sports event organization that these past few years has managed to attract and arrange quite a few major championships in a multitude of sports, plus the Danish Swimming Federation and the Herning Municipality. Sport Event Denmark will be arranging the 2012 Men’s Handball European Championships also, in the same venue in January 2014.