Etihad Arena swimming facility second to none



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Etihad Arena hosting FINA Image: FINA

Located on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island, in a freshly-shaped environment, next to the brand new Formula One racing course, Etihad Arena features everything a multipurpose complex has to offer today. And even more – it was constructed to be in line with the latest sustainability requirements and serves not only the present but the future generations as well.

The ‘FINA’ stated that the arena has received prestigious recognition already, it was named the Sustainable Building Design of the Year at the MENA Green Buildings Awards 2018. And this is not a PR action: By integrating energy and water-efficient building systems and architectural treatments, Etihad Arena achieves a 22.4 percent saving in energy and 28 percent saving in water year by year.

Etihad Arena (initially known as Yas Bay Arena while under construction) is an indoor arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, located on the Yas Bay Waterfront district of Yas Island. Designed by HOK, the capacity of the venue is 18,000 and it is operated by Flash Entertainment.

Brint Jackson, General Manager, Etihad Arena, UAE, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The ‘FINA’ further stated that the building can accommodate 18,000 spectators and host many kinds of events including large-scale international concerts, sports events, corporate gatherings, private functions, and local community celebrations.

Using the latest technology of FINA Partner Myrtha Pools, the Arena has been transformed into a world-class swimming facility for the ongoing FINA World Swimming Championships (25m [from December 16th to December 21st]). Besides the competition pool, a warm-up pool has also been installed next to the big stage, and all athletes representing 183 countries are enjoying the utmost comfort in the team areas, while the media demands are also fully catered.

FINA is the international federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for administering international competitions in water sports. It is one of several international federations which administer a given sport or discipline for the IOC and international community. It is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The FINA World Championships or World Aquatics Championships are the World Championships for aquatics sports: Swimming, diving, high diving, open water swimming, artistic swimming, and water polo. They are run by FINA, and all swimming events are contested in a long course pool.

Athletes at the opening press conference already hailed the venue, both Italy’s Olympic champion Gregorio Paltrinieri and USA’s sprinting star, Olympic champion relay swimmer Abbey Weitzeil, agreed that the venue was extraordinary.

Compared to the venues of the previous editions, the Etihad Arena stands out – though all the sites used in the past decades offered something special and the racing environment was of the highest level. Still, the dimensions, the space, the level of services all top what we saw in the past.

Though it’s not a competition, the first gold can already go to the Arena and the organizers as they also created a unique combination of venues for the already ongoing aquatic festival.

The competitors of the other disciplines, open water swimmers, divers and high divers can also use the Arena’s facilities for their preparations before they march out to the waterfront venues of their respective sports. With the accommodations being located within a stone-throw, this is perhaps the most athlete-friendly championships FINA ever had – and ultimately this is what counts.
 

Flashback – the past decade

The FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) visited a great variety of venues in the past decade.
 

Dubai 2010

The Hamdan Sport Complex in Dubai, UAE, was built for the 2010 championships – held in December for the first time – and served as a venue for several more FINA events, including the 2013 junior Worlds. It is a modern swimming pool, and with a permanent seating of 15,000 spectators, it’s still ranked the largest swimming complex in the world.
 

Istanbul 2012

Similar to the current edition, the 2012 event was held in a multipurpose arena, in the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Turkey, which can accommodate 16,000 spectators. It was a brilliant venue as well and witnessed some great action, including US superstar Ryan Lochte handing over one of his gold medals to the amazing young Turkish fans.
 

Doha 2014

World-class swimming action returned among classical swimming settings in the 2,000-plus capacity Hamad Aquatic Centre in Doha, Qatar. Located in the truly amazing Aspire Zone, home of several incredible facilities, including the world’s largest indoor sports complex, the Aspire Dome, the center saw some of the most thrilling races in the history of this event. (Several sites will be in use again for the 2023 FINA World Championships.)
 

Windsor 2016

There is always a first – and this was a real premier in terms of site-choosing: The event was held in the 4,400-capacity Windsor’s (Canada) ice-hockey arena. And Canadian winter also offered something several swimmers from specific countries had never seen before: A huge snowfall, during the last days of the event.
 

Hangzhou 2018

After the swimming events of the ‘big championships’ had been held in the prestigious 14,820-capacity Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, in 2007, swimming returned to the ‘tennis courts’ as the venue was set up in the local indoor 10,000-capacity Tennis Center in Hangzhou, China. It was part of the City’s Olympic Sports Centre, designed to evoke lotus flowers, the main feature of the nearby West Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the rounded hall offered everything the athletes looked for, the special roof design sometimes confused the backstrokers who could not find any straight line to follow.

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