World Aquatics Confirms Fukuoka 2023 Schedule Evoking Memories Of Ian Thorpe And Michael Phelps

Ian Thorpe - Photo Courtesy: Swimming World Archive

World Aquatics has announced the schedule for the delayed World Championships in Fukuoka, 22 years after Ian Thorpe won six golds and Michael Phelps claimed his first international title in the Japanese city.

The meet was initially scheduled for May 2022 but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic with Budapest instead hosting an “extraordinary” World Championships in June.

Fukuoka 2023 will run from 14-30 July starting with artistic swimming and diving on the day of the Opening Ceremonies, 14 July, at the Fukuoka Prefectural Pool and Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall A, respectively.

Open water swimming competitions start on 15 July at Seaside Momochi Beach Park while the preliminary rounds of the men’s and women’s water polo tournament will get under way on 16 July at Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall B.

After starting the competition in Budapest because of the demands of a heavy international schedule from June through to August 2022, pool swimming returns to its customary spot of anchoring the second half of the championships, starting on day 10 (23 July), and running through to the end of the event.

High diving will be staged at Seaside Momochi Beach Park, with the competition running from 25-27 July.

Water polo moves into the knockout stage of the tournament on 22 July. The women’s bronze and gold medal games are set to take place on 28 July with the men’s tournament concluding one day later.

Thorpe And Phelps Among Icons Providing Stirring Memories

The pool programme will be staged at the Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall A, which bore witness to some of the most iconic performances in history at the 2001 worlds.

Thorpe swept the 200, 400 and 800 free all in world-record time and also won three relay golds with Team Australia.

Twenty-one years on, Thorpe’s 3:40.17 over 400 free ranks fourth all-time behind only Paul Biedermann’s super-suited WR of 3:40.07 with the German slicing 0.01 off the Australian’s 2002 global mark of 3:40.08 at the 2009 worlds.


Michael Phelps: Photo Courtesy: Baltimore Sun

Sun Yang‘s 3:40.14 from London 2012 stands third.

Thorpe’s time of 7:39.16 is the fifth-fastest in history with his 1:44.01 standing 13th.

Sixteen-year-old Phelps lowered his 200 fly world record to 1:54.58 en-route to the first of his 26 world titles.

Natalie Coughlin also won her maiden global title in the 100m backstroke: she would go on to win 19 more long-course golds and 12 Olympic titles.

Inge de Bruijn and Anthony Ervin won their respective 50 and 100 free doubles at a meet that included many luminaries of the sport including Yana Klochkova, Kosuke Kitajima, Aaron Piersol, Grant Hackett and Petria Thomas.

World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam said:

“It’s with immense pleasure that we are able to confirm the competition schedule for the World Aquatics Championships Fukuoka 2023.

“We have been eagerly awaiting our return to competing in front of the aquatic fans from Fukuoka, Japan, and the rest of the world.

“This competition schedule is an important step in preparing the showcase for aquatics athletes to shine.

“The flexibility and resolve that Fukuoka has shown to host these championships, following the global pandemic, has been extremely impressive and has been of great benefit to our sports and our athletes.

“We are once again looking forward with eager anticipation to seeing aquatics sport take centre stage again in Fukuoka.”