Attendees from 11 countries, including Spain (Mr. Casanovas), green-lighted the European Water Polo Championships – formerly part of the European Aquatics Championships– in a historical gathering that took place in Budapest on October 19, 1926. The Swede Erik Bergvall, President of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) at the time, conducted the meeting, where some far-reaching decisions were made regarding the evolution of this sport.
The main one was the agreement to organize the event every four years, alternating with the Olympic Games. The first European Championships took place that same year, in 1926, and, to avoid being eclipsed by the Summer Olympics at all costs, the second was celebrated in 1927 and the third in 1931. Budapest hosted a very successful edition and was followed by Bologna.
In addition to the Spanish representative, the Germans Rinner and Behrens, the Austrian Duhmkholer, the Belgians Delahave and De Raeve, the Frenchman Drigny, the Greek Protopoulos, the Italian Jar, the Poles Semandeni and Facher, the Czech Hauptmann and Hofbauer, the president of FINA and the host, the Hungarian Donath, were responsible for the creation the championships, that will soon celebrate their 33rd edition. John Hodgson, representing Great Britain, was also present, but only as an observer.
The first president of LEN was Bergvall himself, later replaced by the German Walther Rinner. The championships were an overnight success, evolving to the current format, first with the creation of a women’s tournament (Oslo, 1985) and then with the separation of water polo, that didn’t have its own competition until 1997 (swimming and diving shared the same competition).
Nowadays, they take place every second year, over the summer in the middle of the Olympic cycle (as in 2018), or at the beginning of the year if it coincides with the Summer Olympics.