FINA World Championships 2019 | As it happened: Day 1

Olympic Channel were on site in Korea as diving and artistic swimming begin at the World Championships.

By ZK Goh and Andrew Binner ·

Olympic Channel are on site at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

Competition began Friday 12 July, with diving and artistic swimming, and the Opening Ceremony also took place.

You can re-live all of Friday's action with our blog below (newest updates first). Come back for daily live blogs throughout the Championships.


12 - 28 Jul 2019

FINA World Championships - Gwangju

South Korea

All times below are Korean Standard Time (UTC+9 hours).

10:00 pm – Thank you for joining us!

That's it for the Opening Ceremony as Momoland bring their performance to an end.

Thank for you joining us on the first day of competition in Gwangju!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow when we'll see the first medals handed out in open water swimming, diving, and artistic swimming.

Until then, we'll leave you with a selection of the day's best pictures from South Korea.

FINA World Championships Day 1 - the best photos

9:50 pm – Tokyo spots at stake

The finals begin tomorrow, Saturday 13 July. Don't forget, these Championships are acting as an Olympic qualifier for Tokyo 2020 in a number of sports, including open water swimming. The women's 10km race takes place on 14 July with the men's on 16 July.

9:45 pm – Momoland on stage

South Korean girl group Momoland have taken to the stage now as the Opening Ceremony heads towards its conclusion.

Fireworks fill the sky above Gwangju. We're in for a great 17 days of action.

9:33 pm – The 18th FINA World Championships are officially open!

FINA President Julio Maglione invites the South Korean President Moon Jae-in to declare the Championships open, which he does after a short speech.

9:21 pm – Here come the hosts!

The biggest cheer of this flag parade comes, unsurprisingly, at the end, when the flag of the Republic of Korea is carried in.

There were 194 flags — including the FINA flag for the Independent FINA Athletes — in that parade.

It's now time for the opening speeches.

9:08 pm – Athletes enjoying the music

We've just spotted the athletes from Singapore mouthing along to a Korean pop song currently being played in the gymnasium. At least some of them appear to be enjoying this!

9:00 pm – Flags of participating countries

The participating countries' flags are now being carried into the Gwangju Universiade Gymnasium, in order of their Korean names.

8:40 pm – History being told

Unsurprisingly, water is a strong theme in this performance. We're being treated to a display about Gwangju's history, which stretches back over 2000 years.

Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony on day one of the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships on July 12, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

8:20 pm – We're underway!

And we're underway with the Opening Ceremony. Here come the dignitaries, including the South Korean president Moon Jae-in and FINA president Julio Maglione.

7:58 pm – Opening Ceremony awaits

We're just two minutes away from the scheduled start of the Opening Ceremony, but given the artistic swimming duet technical preliminaries have only just finished, we might be in for a short wait.

7:14 pm – Coming soon to Olympic Channel...

6:50 pm – All ready at the water polo

Water polo competitions begin on Sunday, but we've been to check out the pool at Nambu University.

You normally only get to see the finished product from the spectators' seats...

Training for the water polo competition at Gwangju 2019

But here's what lies beneath the pool!

Here's what you don't normally get to see underneath the pool at the water polo!

6:35 pm – Russians continue artistic swimming dominance

As we mentioned in our artistic swimming preview, the country to watch is Russia. Unsurprisingly, Olympic champions Svetlana Romashina and Svetlana Kolesnichenko have moved top of the standings in the duet technical event, with a score of 95.9501, more than 2.5 points ahead of second-placed China.

Can anyone stop the Russian juggernauts? You can re-live Romashina winning duet gold with Natalia Ishchenko at Rio 2016 below.

Russian pair win Synchronised Swimming gold

Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina win gold for Russia in the women's...

6:05 pm – Beach water polo debut

Like water polo? Well, the Gwangju 2019 organisers and FINA have a new discipline for you in Korea.

Beach water polo is being contested as a demonstration event, and also begins today. We'll of course keep an eye on it for any great goals or big plays.

5:35 pm – China one-two in diving

Chen Yiwen tops the standings after the preliminary round of the women's 1m springboard with a total of 287.95 from her five dives. She finishes a cool 30.30 points ahead of her teammate Chang Yani. The event is still ongoing with the last few divers but none of them are likely to threaten the Chinese dominance at the top.

5:20 pm – All you need to know about... diving

Will British star Tom Daley shine in Gwangju? Can anyone stop the Chinese divers? Read our preview of the diving competitions now!

Tom Daley: My Rio Highlights

The best moments from the 2016 Summer Olympic Games

4:45 pm – Ona Carbonell's story

Spanish artistic swimmer Ona Carbonell placed second in the solo technical event after this morning's preliminary round, and you can watch more about her on the Olympic Channel!

Here's a taste.

Synchro Superstar Ona Carbonell Writes Her Story

Spend a day with the two-time Olympic medallist as she moves between the fa...

4:35 pm – Cheers for hosts

Huge cheers from the South Korean crowd for the home team in the artistic swimming duet technical prelims.

A score of 74.8296 puts them into fifth after eight teams.

3:55 pm – Some swimming news

Now, swimming doesn't get underway for another week, but we have some news to bring you.

Men's 1500m freestyle world record holder Sun Yang has withdrawn from the event, which will be held on the last two days of competition, 27 and 28 July.

Instead, Sun, who is the current world champion at the 200m and 400m distances (and was London 2012 Olympic champion in the 1500m), will focus on those shorter distances as well as the 800m, which makes its debut at Tokyo 2020.

3:41 pm – Diving underway

We're back underway with action from the Nambu International Aquatics Center in Gwangju, with the 1-metre women's springboard diving preliminaries. The first round of the duet technical programs in artistic swimming also start shortly.

2:45 pm – Front page news

Check this out... the 2019 World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju is front and centre of Korea's premier English-language newspaper, the Korea Joongang Daily.

Korea Joongang Daily

2:20 pm – Get in touch!

Don't forget, we're @olympicchannel across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Get in touch with us and tag us in your photos and we might just feature them on the blog!

1:33 pm – Solo Technical finalists decided

Russia's Sveta Kolesnichenko has taken the Solo Technical artistic swimming provisional round, with a fantastic routine to the music of Lara Croft. Spain's Ona Carbonell sealed second while Japanese Yukiko Inui finished third. The top 12 finishers all qualified for the tomorrow's final. Congratulations all!

1:19 pm – Breaking stereotypes with Adam Peaty!

Breaststroke Olympic champion Adam Peaty will be hoping to break his own world records in this very arena next week.

We caught up with him to find out, among some other things, if it's true that swimmers can't run. Also checkout our podcast with him at the link below! It's a good-un.

12:35 pm – Bieber in the brand-new arena!

OK so Justin's not here in person... but after every dive in the Men's 1m Springboard preliminary rounds, a 10 second blast of electro-pop music blares out over the speakers. The Korean crowd love it! In addition to Bieber we've had hits by Bruno Mars as well as the late and great Avicii.

Party atmosphere in the diving and swimming arena

11.15 am – Minor humidity in the air

The grey clouds are circling above the state-of-the-art (indoor) diving and swimming centre, but the Gwangju 2019 mascot otters are still smiling as it's a lovely 28°C (80°F) on the ground.

The Nambu University Aquatics Centre

10:33 am – The first events are beginning shortly and here are your Day 1 highlights

11:00 – 14:00 Diving: 1m Springboard Men preliminary round
11:00 – 13:30 Artistic swimming: Solo Technical preliminary round
15:30 – 18:00 Diving: 1m Springboard Women preliminary round
16:00 – 19:00 Artistic swimming: Duet Technical preliminary round
20:00: Opening Ceremony

09:25 am... and we've spotted our first robot!

This friendly face was on hand to greet athletes and media at the accreditation centre. They love tech in Korea, and we're expecting (hoping!) to see much more of this. After all, this is the land that brought us Samsung and several other big names in the tech game.

The friendly accreditation robot

08:15 am – Six events over 17 days of aquatic action!

There is something for everyone at Gwangju 2019, with medals for swimming, diving, water polo, artistic swimming, high diving and open water swimming all up for grabs.

Click here to see our complete guide to the event.

08:00 am – Hello from Gwangju and #FINAworlds!

Good morning or 'annyeong' from Korea, and welcome to the Olympic Channel 2019 FINA World Championships live blog.

We're on site in Gwangju, where the rains from earlier in the week have fittingly been replaced by sunshine and warm temperatures on Day 1.

Keep it locked on to receive the latest news, behind-the-scenes action, exclusive interviews and much more throughout the event, 12-28 July.