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.