The London Aquatics Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will welcome over 4,000 swimmers, divers and synchronised swimmers for the LEN European Masters Championships, which will run from 25-29 May 2016.
Two-time Olympian and former world champion Katy Sexton believes next year’s LEN European Masters Championships will feel like every entrant’s personal Olympic Games following the official release of the event dates.
In an historic first the Masters event will be held together with the elite LEN European Swimming, Diving and Synchronised Swimming Championships to form the LEN European Aquatics Championships 2016.
Athletes from across the continent across multiple age groups from 25 to over 100 will get the opportunity to compete for medals and records straight after Europe’s elite at the iconic London Aquatics Centre.
Sexton, who runs a swim academy that bears her name, became Britain’s first female world champion when she won 200m backstroke gold in Barcelona in 2003, competed at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics and first competed at a masters event in 2012.
“I was lucky enough to swim at the London Aquatics Centre for the Olympic trials in 2012 and I had a great experience,” she said. “To do it again would be something really special – it would be my Olympics – and because the London 2012 Games were only three years ago it is still fresh and the next Olympics are just around the corner.
“Masters swimming is fun and exciting and London is an attractive option for a lot of people. I am a little bit older now and I will need to do some training but after I did my first masters meet I knew that I wanted to do another. My training has to have a purpose and so I set myself some targets and I swam them. It was relaxed, there was no pressure.”
Held entirely within the London Aquatics Centre, the LEN European Aquatics Championships will be the biggest event to be staged at the venue since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The LEN European Aquatics Championships will be delivered in partnership with British Swimming, UK Sport – as part of the #EveryRoadtoRio series, London & Partners, LLDC and the Mayor of London.
The last LEN European Masters Championships were held in Eindhoven in 2013 and one of the UK’s most successful masters swimmers Jane Asher, who is 84 and started racing at 40, is relishing being the host nation.
“When we masters swimmers heard that the 2016 European Masters Championships were planned to be held in London, in our magnificent London Aquatics Centre, we were absolutely delighted,” she said.
“We have visited so many other European cities over the past few years, we will be really proud to play host on this occasion. It is going to bring masters swimming right to the fore.”
Participants can register their interest on the official website euroaquatics2016.london, where a comprehensive schedule, standard times and preferential rates for hotels can also be found.
Britain has not hosted the LEN European Masters Championships since 1993 and its return could tempt Mark Woodward, father of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze-medal winning diver Freddie, into further developing his own career.
“I started diving a couple of years after Fred did and the possibility of competing in London has made me think about whether I could invest some more time in training to reach an acceptable standard,” he said.
“As an event it is a wonderful opportunity to promote international friendship and to once again show the world the excellence of some of our diving facilities and professional diving management.”