Sydney’s ‘Festival of Swimming’ has come to a close with the past ten days displaying the true potential of Australia’s most prominent Olympic and Paralympic sport in one of the great event cities of the world.
Swimming’s centre stage in the harbour city began with the return of Duel in the Pool for the first time on Australian soil since 2007, kickstarting with an Open Water Relay at the iconic Bondi Beach, before two nights of an action-packed pool program, including a world first integrated para and able bodied athlete relay, at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.
In total, more than 8,000 passionate fans packed the SOPAC stands across Saturday and Sunday night, with streaming numbers for the event broadcast via the Seven Network’s digital arm 7plus exceeding 1 million minutes on both nights.
Running concurrently alongside Duel in the Pool was Swimming Australia’s inaugural innovation and thought leadership conference, SwimCON22, which saw a collection of domestic and international sporting leaders come together to discuss the opportunities for Australian sport on the pathway to a home Olympic and Paralympic Games.
150 delegates attended SwimCON22 on both Saturday and Sunday, including nine coaches representing five different countries in the Oceania region, and heard from experts including FINA Executive Director Brent Nowicki, Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins, Australian Olympic Committee Chief Executive Matt Carroll and Paralympics Australia CEO Catherine Clark.
Action remained at SOPAC following Duel in the Pool, as did many of the visiting American team, who joined a number of other international athletes and several leading Australian Dolphins including Emma McKeon, Mollie O’Callaghan and Kaylee McKeown at the 2022 Australian Short Course Championships, or ‘Sydney Sprints’.
705 athletes, including 26 international visitors, competed in the 4-day Championships with an incredible 19 new World Short Course Records set, serving as a perfect warm up for the FINA World Short Course Championships returning to Australia in December.
The spotlight then finally turned to a celebration of another remarkable 12-month campaign on the international stage for the Australian Dolphins at the 2022 Swimming Australia Awards, hosted at the Sofitel Wentworth.
Mollie O’Callaghan and Rowan Crothers took home the top prizes as Olympic and Paralympic Swimmer of the Year respectively, while the Awards also acknowledged Australian swimming’s incredible 120-year history with the launch of the Swimming Australia Hall of Fame.
Legends Fred Lane (Dolphin #1), Fanny Durack (Dolphin #9), Dawn Fraser (Dolphin #86), Shane Gould (Dolphin #214) and Ian Thorpe (Dolphin #494) were all inducted as part of the inaugural class.
Swimming Australia CEO, Eugénie Buckley, believes swimming’s platform in Sydney these past 10 days represents the significant role of the sport within Australia’s sporting landscape.
“To showcase swimming on such a significant stage as Sydney, and to enjoy the outstanding level of engagement we have across these events, is a tangible reminder of just how much Australians love their swimming,” Buckley said.
“Whether it was the iconic Bondi Beach, or recreating memories of our famous rivalry against Team USA in that Sydney Olympic Pool, this festival of swimming has reminded so many of our country’s important relationship with our sport, as well as their admiration for our athletes.”
“The support of the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, has been critical in the success of this festival of swimming and we look forward to collaborating with them on further initiatives to continue to attract domestic and international fans to support the NSW visitor economy.”
Minister for Tourism Ben Franklin said Duel in the Pool showcased Sydney as one of the world’s premier major sporting event destinations.
“Duel in the Pool provided a fantastic start to an incredible calendar of world-class international sporting events coming up exclusively in Sydney as we head into summer, including the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, the UCI Road World Championships, the Everest and Sydney Super Cup,” Mr Franklin said.
“The NSW Government is committed to delivering world-class events like Duel in the Pool to achieve our goal of making Sydney and NSW the events capital and premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific.”