Friday marked the opening day of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. The first day of competition coincided with the event’s opening ceremony. 194 countries are represented this year.

For the next two weeks, all focus will be on the Gwangju’s women’s university. This is the same indoor arena that hosted the gymnastics when the city hosted the World University Games in 2015.

The local organising committee worked for six years to realise their dream of hosting the event. The ancient city of Gwangju put on a cultural show as part of the opening ceremony. Special lighting was used to create a particular atmosphere in the indoor arena.

“Welcome you all in Gwangju, Republic of Korea for the 18th edition of the FINA World Championships taking place in this dynamic city from July 12 to 28. The aquatic family is ready to leave a good memory and the athletes of our six aquatic disciplines will certainly delight the world with their performance,” says FINA President Julio Maglione.

South Africa has sent a strong team of 18 swimmers to the championships. The team includes Olympian Chad le Clos, breaststroke golden girl Tatjana Schoenmaker, Youth Commonwealth gold medalist Michael Houlie, Ayrton Sweeney and Chad Ho.

During the first week the focus will be on diving, water polo, artistic swimming and open water swimming. During week two it shifts to the pool for the swimming. Julia Vincent will take part in the one meter springboard final on Saturday. Several other African countries are also represented such as Ghana, Gabon, Namibia, and Nigeria.