‘The biggest ‘bubble’ of the world opened its doors this morning’ – Dávid Szántó, head of the organizing committee of the 35th LEN European Aquatics Championships, which will feature about four thousand official participants, said at a press conference at the main entrance of the Danube Arena. Balázs Fürjes, Government Commissioner for International Sports Events, Sándor Wladár, Chairman of the Hungarian Swimming Federation and the organizing committee and Kristóf Rasovszky, world and European champion open water swimmer greeted the media, with four-time Olympic champion swimmer Tamás Darnyi also present.

‘Hungarians, go for it!’ This is how Balázs Fürjes started his speech. He laid stress upon the fact that 2021 is the year of the European Championships (in addition to swimming, also in football), relaunch and togetherness in Hungary.

‘Swimming is among the top five sports in the world, and it’s special to us because our athletes traditionally belong to the elite’ – the government commissioner said. ‘Many thanks to everyone who made it possible to relaunch life in our country, including the economy and sports as well. The Europeans is a very important element in this process.’

Balázs Fürjes added: the Danube Arena has proved to be a great venue of plenty of fantastic sports events for four years now, and he is sure that will be the case this time, too. Last January the Hungarian teams set a really high standard with their performance at the LEN European Water Polo Championships, but he is convinced the swimmers will also deliver some good results.

Sándor Wladár also praised the Danube Arena as an outstanding venue, and according to him, this complex will continue to be a major bastion of Hungarian swimming in the future, such as at the 2027 World Aquatics Championships.

‘Organizing the European Championships is about responsibility as well. Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s gonna be the biggest sporting event on the continent, so I could say that the eyes of the world are upon us! However, Prof. Béla Merkely and the Semmelweis University have developed a high-quality and at the same time extremely strict Covid protocol for the event, which takes the safety of all participants into account.’

The former Olympic and two-time European champion swimming legend is proud of the fact that 99 percent of the LEN member associations are represented in Budapest, which can be attributed to both the traditionally excellent Hungarian organization and the good domestic vaccination.

Besides the Danube Arena, the other main venue of the European Championships will be the Lake Lupa, where open water swimmers can show off their skills, including world and double European champion Kristóf Rasovszky, who is once again one of the biggest favorites.

‘Swimming in Lupa will not be completely new to us, as there was already a test competition there in 2019, but the environment is not so familiar yet as in Balatonfüred’ – Rasovszky said. ‘It will be difficult to  outshine my 2018 performance, since I will not start in the 25k this time, but my goal is to win a medal in the 5 and the 10k as well. A medal would be nice in the relay, too, but it will really difficult.’

The water temperature in Lake Lupa is already approaching 15 degrees Celsius, which is not far from the required minimum of 16 degrees, which may still seem very cool to an average person.

‘I am, however, much happier with cold water than, let’s say, with 30 degrees’ – Kristóf Rasovszky responded with a smile on his face.

In the Danube Arena, the competitions will start on Monday morning, at Lake Lupa on Wednesday morning at the 35th European Aquatics Championships.