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The Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) was founded in Budapest in 1926. It is the oldest continental federation governing and coordinating the aquatic sports. LEN is second only to FINA, to which it is historically linked and closely related.

During the twentieth century LEN has introduced and led many innovations across the different disciplines, and it is today the true engine of the aquatic culture.

The dedication and collective efforts of many people, free from cultural barriers and from the limitations dictated by geo-political boundaries, has empowered and enabled our Organization to become an effervescent and heterogeneous collector of ideas and innovations, to the extent of becoming today a relevant and always current model for the aquatic disciplines.

The beginnings of LEN can be placed in the ’20s and more precisely during the 1925 FINA Congress in Prague when it became clear the need of creating a Governing Body which would lead the organization of the European Championships. The first edition of European Championships had only few less than 20 swimming events, 4 diving events and one water polo tournament.

Since this first simple step the change has been constant. With time other disciplines like synchronized swimming, open water swimming, and the masters gained a precise, fundamental identity, becoming key additional pillars of LEN.

Of course, it was not just an increase in the number of disciplines. The facts confirm LEN has undergone a radical change and over the years it has been able to continuously adapt to the needs of sports and social life.

Swimming has been the sport most seen on TV during the Olympics (audience age 8-19 years old) 90 million are the Europeans who practice swimming several times a month, at least every two weeks.

The competitors are 1.5 million equally divided between males and females and 65% of them are under 18.

The LEN junior events count the participation of more than 40 countries. A huge crowd of spectators every year follow the LEN events and E.B.U. (European Broadcasting Union) estimated in about 1 billion the number of viewers who were watching the European Swimming Championships.

During the European Swimming Championships 2010, swimming had TV coverage of approximately 900 hours and digital platforms such as LEN Website, Dailymotion LEN TV channel jointly with LEN Facebook page and Twitter account recently activated , have more than one million visitors.

LEN continuously addresses the issues related to the educational, medical and legal aspects of our disciplines. But, marketing, sponsorship, advertising and promotion are also part of our everyday life. Those early days, with apparently a limited scope, represent today a permanent icon that makes us even more proud of the journey undertaken by the LEN “family”.

In the following pages you will be able to go over again the facts, the people and the decisions that led to the current structure of LEN. A beginning characterized by the passion of a few and by limited economic resources, that have however developed into a network of International Committees and National Federations. These meet regularly and help to guide the facts and thoughts about all Aquatic matters in Europe.

Another key term to identify LEN is for sure “openness”. The continental calendar of events has seen the introduction of the widest range of youth competitions, programs and events always up to date, giving the opportunity for participation to everybody, in all aquatic disciplines.

Beyond this, we can not but remember that the number of countries affiliated is currently 52, and thanks to them the process of LEN development will continue to operate in the best way for the aquatic community.

Paolo Barelli

LEN President