Funchal, Madeira to host 2016 IPC Swimming Open European Championships‏ Funchal, Madeira to host 2016 IPC Swimming Open European Championships‏

IPC Swimming announced on Tuesday (23 June) that the city of Funchal, on the island of Madeira, Portugal, will host the 2016 IPC Swimming Open European Championships just months before the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Around 450 athletes from 50 countries are expected to compete at Funchal 2016 from 15-21 May, which is being run as an Open Championships to ensure swimmers have as many opportunities as possible to qualify for Rio 2016.

Xavier Gonzalez, IPC Chief Executive Officer, said: "With the World Championships taking place in Glasgow, Great Britain, in July, we are really pleased to add Funchal 2016 to the schedule of major events taking place ahead of the next Paralympic Games.

"Madeira will provide a beautiful setting for the Championships and the Complexo Olimpico de Piscinas da Penteada is an incredibly impressive, sophisticated venue considered to be one of the best in Europe.

"We expect the European Open to be the perfect curtain-raiser for Rio as athletes attempt to secure the last qualification spots just four months out, and will be a good indicator of form for those who have already booked their places."

Antonio Jose Silva, President of the Local Organising Committee and the Portuguese Swimming Federation (FPN), said:

"On behalf of the FPN it is an honour to have the opportunity to organise such a great event as the 2016 IPC Swimming European Championships in such a beautiful city as Funchal.

"It is quite important for FPN to organise this event since para-swimming is now under our responsibility, and for us it is crucial to spread and promote the values of equality and swimming for all.

"We are hoping to welcome many athletes, teams and other interested parties to Portugal and look forward to the opportunity to show the greatness of our country.

"We hope to give them the best event ever."

The fully accessible EUR 25 million Complexo Olimpico de Piscinas da Penteada was opened in 2004 in the heart of Funchal. The complex is set over an impressive five floors and includes an Olympic sized competition pool, a diving pool, a 25m pool and a training pool.

The venue hosted the 2005 Multi-nations Youth Meet and most recently the 2015 Winter International Masters Open. It is located in the cultural heart of the city next to the University of Madeira, the Congress Centre, regional library and public archives.

Funchal is the island capital, housing around 45 per cent of Madeira's 270,000 population and sits in a natural amphitheatre-shaped valley on the coast.

Madeira itself is famed for outdoor activities such as hiking and watersports and is also a well-known holiday destination, offering beaches, scenic marinas, museums and restaurants.

The 2014 IPC Swimming European Championships were held in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, where Ukraine finished top of the medals table with 37 gold, 29 silver and 28 bronze medals. Russia were second with 34 golds, 32 silver and 29 bronze whilst Great Britain finished third with 30 golds, 27 silver and 16 bronze.

In 2015, the IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow will take place between 13-19 July at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, the same pool that was used for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Over 580 athletes from nearly 70 countries are expected to compete and the competition will be shown live at