Windsor Marks FINA First With Opening Ceremony (GALLERY)

Local performers take centre stage at The Colosseum At Caesars Windsor for the FINA World Swimming Championship opening ceremony in Windsor on December 5, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

The 13th FINA World Swimming Championships are officially open in Windsor.

For the first time, the event had a standalone opening ceremony — held at the Colosseum at Caesars Windsor — kicking off the week long championship set to wrap on Sunday.

Suede Productions was behind the show which featured 200 local performers, including high-flying aerialists, dancers and Toronto band The Darcys. The night was kicked off with a painter furiously painting across a modular canvas and an Indigenous drum song.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens says the city is thrilled to play host for the first time.

“While we may not be the largest city to have ever hosted this event, we’ve certainly done our part to ensure this competition is unique , memorable and full of special Canadian touches,” says Dilkens.

A temporary pool was constructed at the WFCU Centre for the FINA swimmers.  It sits on top of the ice pad the Windsor Spitfires would usually be playing at this time of year.  The Spits are on an extended road trip while FINA is in town.

Dilkens told the crowd it doesn’t get “anymore Canadian than that”, having a first-rate international swimming pool “in the home that hockey built”, and even added the pool water was specially formulated for the swimmers.

“We call it H2-Go,” says Dilkens. “It’s specially designed for speed, and as they say world records are meant to be broken; we certainly hope that you break them here in the city of Windsor.”

FINA President Julio Maglione thanked the city and other organizing partners for putting together the event.

“Everything is in place for a memorable celebration of swimming,” says Maglione.

An official attendance figure for the opening ceremonies wasn’t released, but FINA officials estimate about 4,000 people attended.