Florian Wellbrock and Co. have been swimming the most successful world championships for many years, but live images are withheld from the general public at home. On German television, there are no direct broadcasts from the Hungarian capital, either on public broadcasters or special interest channels. Is a core Olympic sport sinking into no man’s land?

The impression must undoubtedly be created. The lack of TV presence disappoints the protagonists. “That’s a pity. We would think it would be good if our young swimmers in Germany could follow these championships. We shine here and we enjoy watching these championships and I think on TV too,” said long-distance national coach Bernd Berkhahn. The World Championship silver races by Lukas Märtens (400 meters freestyle), Anna Elendt (100 meters breaststroke) and Florian Wellbrock (800 meters freestyle) were just as much an advertisement for German swimming as were many other finals with some good German placements.

“You can see when you get close to your personal best that you also have good chances of making the final. Also because in some fields the level is not quite as high as expected. Our athletes take advantage of these opportunities. It’s great, it’s fun,” said Berkhahn. Also with a view to the fact that there are other extremely promising races by Florian Wellbrock over 1500 meters freestyle and from Sunday in open water.

“Therefore it would have been desirable if the public service had reported. But that’s the way it is. We have to accept that,” said Berkhahn. The German pool team has already collected more medals than in 2019 and 2017.

ARD and Eurosport have no broadcasting rights for the World Championships. They are on ZDF. But: “Due to the short-term nature of the appointment, we have decided to only report for information in a very intensive sporting year. Our capacities are limited,” said ZDF sports director Thomas Fuhrmann. The World Cup, which was supposed to take place in Fukuoka, Japan, had been postponed to the coming year due to the corona pandemic. At the beginning of February, however, Budapest also stepped in as the host city of the 2022 World Cup – albeit in June instead of May.

“Maybe there will be international championships again soon, which will be broadcast,” said Berkhahn and, like the athletes, was reassured by Fuhrmann. “The status of swimming is not lost. You can see that from the fact that we’re broadcasting at the finals this weekend and the European Championships in Rome and will do it again at the World Championships,” said the ZDF sports director.

Certainly a consolation, albeit a weak one for the athletes. “It’s a pity that the World Cup isn’t on German television. But it’s the finals that will be broadcast this week. We are happy about every minute of broadcasting,” said breaststroke swimmer Lucas Matzerath and Anna Elendt added: “Anyone who wanted to see it found live streams somewhere. And you can see us in one day at the finals on Sunday.”

The German swimming championships are taking place at the same time as the finals in Berlin.