Birthplace of Modern

The World Aquatics Swimming World Cup competition this week is being held in the same venue that housed water polo at the 2004 Olympics. Warm-up sessions for the meet were held at the outdoor pool that hosted swimming. Although none of the athletes in attendance competed at the 2004 Olympics, many of the athletes were aware of the history of the city and the facilities in the Greek capital.

Image Source: Phelps competing in the 200m IM final at the Athens Olympics (Al Bello/Getty Images)

They were training in the same pool where swimming legends like Michael Phelps, Yana Klochkova, Ian Thorpe, and Inge de Bruijn celebrated Olympic gold medals. It was the same city where the first ever Olympics in their current format were held 127 years ago. The same sports festival that they strive to attend every four years was started in this very country.

“It’s my first time in Athens, it’s nice to be here,” Australia’s Cody Simpson said to World Aquatics ahead of the World Cup. “I warmed up in the 2004 Olympic pool where I watched (on tv) so many races that inspired me to swim.”

Simpson, age 26, has yet to qualify for an Olympic Games.

“I went exploring yesterday which was incredible,” Simpson said. “Seeing these historic sights including the original Olympic stadium and the Acropolis certainly inspires you. It allows you to marinate in that history and culture. It brings prestige to all of it and it gives you a new sense in your eyes.”

Image Source: Australia’s Cate Campbell reacts after Women’s 4 x 100m Medley Relay Final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

“It’s pretty special to compete at an Olympic venue,” Australia’s Cate Campbell said. “I can clearly remember watching the 2004 Athens Olympics. I fondly refer to the Athens pool as the Jodie Henry pool. She obviously won gold in the 100m freestyle and two other golds as part of the women’s all-conquering relay teams (from Australia).”

Campbell, age 31, is hoping to qualify for her fifth Olympics in Paris next year, as she has accumulated eight Olympic medals in her career, including four relay golds.

“It is one of those keen memories and I can remember that it really lit a fire within me to go to the Olympic Games,” Campbell continued. “To be here and to be surrounded by so much Olympic history makes me feel really honored to be a part of the Olympic family.”

Image Source: Haughey was all smiles in the Berlin leg of this years Swimming World Cup (Jo Kleindl/World Aquatics)


“It’s really a special feeling,” Hong Kong, China’s Siobhan Haughey said of being in Athens. “Yesterday I got to tour around the city. I went to the Olympic stadium with all the marble floors, it’s so beautiful.”

Haughey won two silver medals in Tokyo at the last Olympics and is a favorite to win the 100m freestyle in Paris next year, and will challenge the world record in that event this week.

“There is so much history here,” Haughey continued. “It means so much to me to be here as an Olympian. I swam in the Olympic pool used in the 2004 Athens Games. There is so much history here. So many Olympians and Olympic medalists walked on these pool floors and through these doors and raced in these pools.”


Image Source: Istvan Derencsenyi/World Aquatics

“Being in Athens you understand the history of the modern Olympics from its beginning in 1896 through 2004, and to the present,” USA’s Michael Andrew said.

“It’s cool to see the energy of the athletes and the coaches in a good environment for racing.

“To race in a facility like OAKA with 11 pools is insane. I think being 288 days away from Paris because the SWC adds a little bit of fire to the bosom as we each prepare for 2024.

We love that Olympic culture and the history (of Athens). I trained in the 2004 Olympic pool and it’s really special. You don’t get to swim in a pool with so much history very often. Think of the kind of races that were happening back in the day, legendary races between athletes from the USA and Australia, knowing that they did pretty well at the Athens Olympics.”

Andrew swam the breaststroke leg on the gold medal-winning 4x100m medley relay team in Tokyo two years ago and is training for what would be his second Olympics in Paris at age 24.

“I think the SWC is a great lead-up to the Paris Olympics,” Andrew said. “For me, I have always believed that racing is the best training.”


Image Source: Katie Grimes had her teammates on their feet during last year’s Swimming World Cup in Indianapolis, USA (Mike Lewis/World Aquatics)

“I think it’s pretty cool,” USA’s Katie Grimes said. Grimes has already qualified to swim the 10K in next year’s Olympics at age 17, by virtue of her bronze medal at the World Championships in July this year. This will be her second Olympics after finishing fourth in the 800m freestyle in Tokyo. “I always love watching the reruns of swimming at the Athens Olympics. I got to see a little bit of the city yesterday when we visited the Acropolis. We really learned a lot. I just love the history of this city.”

Image Source: Stuart Hannagan/Getty Images

Many of the athletes raced at the last Olympics in Tokyo and many of them have raced and trained in former Olympic pools like those in Sydney, London, and Los Angeles. In fact, many of them were just in Berlin at the World Cup last week, although not competing in the pool that hosted swimming in 1936.

This week’s World Cup is the second of three stops on the World Cup tour this month, which began in Berlin last week and will end in Budapest next week. The tour crosses three European cities, all within a one hour time difference of next year’s Olympic host Paris. For many of the athletes in attendance, this is good practice for next year’s Games if they are to qualify – similar flight path to Europe, similar food options in the hotels, and similar cities to what they will experience next year in France.

Although Athens is still a three hour flight to Paris, the path to get to Europe will be similar to those traveling from countries like Canada, United States, Australia and China. The day to day processes of learning how to adjust to the post-flight jet lag are important in maximizing performance, and it can be hard to swim fast in the most important meet of your life with no practice in that. Time zone adjustment can be a big factor in who swims well at a major international meet, and this World Cup is serving as a good testing ground for those that will qualify for Paris next year.

Image Source: From the Fukuoka Worlds to the Swimming World Cup, McKeown has had a dominant 2023 (Hiroyuki Nakamura/World Aquatics)

“The World Cup experience for Australia is an important training experience,” Australia’s Kaylee McKeown said last week in Berlin. “We are far away from home, like Paris, and we are many time zones different, like Paris, and it can be an intense schedule, like Paris, so this is valuable for Australian athletes.”

McKeown is the reigning Olympic champion in both the 100m and 200m backstroke and also won the World title in both of those events in July. At age 22, McKeown is currently the best backstroker in the world.

“If all goes well, I will make the team for the Olympics. I am putting my body in a bit of a pressure test to see if I can handle it during the three World Cup events.”

Image Source: Switzerland’s Jeremy Desplanches (L) races USA’s Carson Foster in the Men’s 200m IM Semi at the World Aquatics Championships – Budapest 2022 (Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

“I love the SWC in long course,” Switzerland’s Jeremy Desplanches said. “It’s such a big difference.  I am a long course swimmer and I will also race in Budapest.  When I know it’s a long course I try to race in the same course that we will swim in the Olympics.”

Desplanches won Switzerland’s first ever Olympic swimming medal in Tokyo two years ago with his bronze in the 200m IM. Desplanches, age 29, is aiming for what will be his third Olympics in Paris, which he can solidify this weekend.

“Here I can qualify for the Olympic Games so I plan to do this. In an Olympic year it makes much more sense.”

For some athletes that have never qualified for an Olympics before, this weekend serves as excellent practice.

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“I have never been an Olympian but it’s exciting to be here in the place where the Olympics started,” Canada’s Ingrid Wilm said.

“The fun thing about the World Cups is learning quickly week to week what you can do bit by bit improving at each event. I look forward to seeing what I can do.”

Wilm, age 25, was fifth in the 100m backstroke at the recent World Championships.

“I think a lot of people will realize that racing long course in the Olympic season is definitely a must,” Arno Kamminga of the Netherlands said. Kamminga won two silvers in Tokyo in the 100m and 200m breaststroke and also won joint silver in the 100m at the World Championships in July.

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

“I think there is a reason that World Aquatics chose to have one of the SWC stops here,” USA’s Nic Fink said. “It’s a nice pool, a great environment for the swimmers, and plenty of seating for spectators. I think they chose right in having a stop here.”

Fink was one of the other swimmers that tied Kamminga for silver in the 100m breast at the World Championships. Fink, age 30, swam in his first Olympics in Tokyo two years ago and was the World Cup runner-up last year by virtue of his nine wins across all nine breaststroke events.

“This only helps me on the road to Paris,” Fink continued. “Yes, the time change and adjustments are something you have to deal with whenever you go to most meets. I think by now you have a pretty good rhythm  and you adjust really well. So this should not be too much of an inhibitor when I go back and get into training.”

Image Source: Lani Pallister sparkled at the Swimming World Cup in Berlin (Jo Kleindl/World Aquatics)

“I think the experience of catching flights, times zone changes is really important,” Australia’s Lani Pallister said. “I haven’t done it that many times. It’s been really good and I feel that I adapted quickly. I was lucky that I slept the majority of my flights. I am getting used to sleeping anywhere and at any time that I can. It’s all a process and if we are following what we are supposed to be doing then we are setting up the foundations for next year.”

Pallister, age 21, has yet to qualify for an Olympics as she had a rough go with injuries and illnesses in the lead-up to Tokyo. Last year in 2022 she won three individual titles at the World Short Course Championships.

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