The LEN European Aquatics Championships is the oldest continental event in aquatics, Europe is still the only continent, which stages competitions solely dedicated to aquatics and doing it every second years (other continents have their meets as part of the multisport events in every four years). The European Championships, together with the age-group events, are essential in maintaining Europe’s leading role in the world of aquatics.

In fact, the event returns to its birthplace in 2020: the first edition was held in Budapest on 18-22 August in 1926. The inaugural meet featured swimming, diving and water polo and was held in the Csaszar Pool in front of some 10,000 people.

Artistic (back then: synchronised) swimming made its debut at the Europeans in 1974 while the open water swimming events were held in 1993 for the first time. From 1926 till 1997 all five disciplines were part of the championships programme, from 1999 the European Water Polo Championships have been held as a stand-alone event.

At the beginning there were some uncertainties: the second edition was staged immediately in 1927 then the Europeans returned in 1931 as planned (to be organised every four years), however, the fourth one came in 1934 in order to have this major meet at the halfway mark of the Olympic cycle. Due to the war the Europeans could return only in 1947 after 1938, then, from 1950 till 1974 it fulfilled its role as the alternating big occasion for European swimmers between the Olympics. With the World Championships established in 1973 and moved to even years from 1978, LEN decided to hold the Europeans every two year in odd years from 1981.

Splitting the water polo tournaments from the other competitions marked the beginning of a new chapter in 1999 but the new millennia also saw the event being moved to even years since FINA opted to change the World Championships to a biannual event too and it booked the summers of the odd years. It also meant a fresh challenge to find the proper dates for the championships in the Olympic years but May proved to be a good choice and serves the continent’s top athletes as a perfect opportunity to test themselves in a high level competition before the Games (or, in swimming, to clock the last qualification times). Depending on the location, the open water event might be held separately (as in 2008, 2012 and 2016) but here in Budapest it will be part of the championships for the first time since Madrid 2004.

Budapest will be the host of the Europeans for the 5th occasion after 1926, 1958, 2006 and 2012, which is a record among all cities (add the water polo Europeans in 2001, 2014 and in 2020) – Vienna comes next in the line with three meets staged, in 1950, 1974 and 1995.

2020 marks the first time when the five disciplines come together to one place once again after 1997, though the water polo meets have been scheduled (as usual) to January).


1926 Budapest

1927 Bologna

1931 Paris

1934 Magdeburg

1938 London

1947 Monte Carlo

1950 Vienna

1954 Turin

1958 Budapest

1962 Leipzig

1966 Utrecht

1970 Barcelona

1974 Vienna

1977 Jönköping

1981 Split

1983 Rome

1985 Sofia

1987 Strasbourg

1989 Bonn

1991 Athens

1993 Sheffield

1995 Vienna

1997 Seville

1999 Istanbul

2000 Helsinki

2002 Berlin

2004 Madrid

2006 Budapest

2008 Eindhoven

2010 Budapest

2012 Debrecen (SW), Eindhoven (DV, SYN)

2014 Berlin

2016 London

2018 Glasgow (SW, SYN, OWS), Edinburgh (DV)

2020 Budapest