GWANGJU, South Korea, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The 18th FINA World Championships kicked off on Friday in Gwangju, a city some 330km south of South Korean capital Seoul, with the Chinese divers coming to prominence.
In the men's 1m springboard heats on the opening day, Chinese Wang Zongyuan and defending champion Peng Jianfeng ranked first and second at Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center to qualify for the finals scheduled for Sunday.
Wang, who was debuting for the swimming worlds, dominated in most of the six rounds for a total of 429.40 points. Peng followed with 410.30.
Local favorite Woo Ha-ram came third with 396.10, trailed by Mexico's Rommel Pacheco, who celebrated his 33rd birthday with a score of 390.40.
"It was a great honor to be selected into the Chinese squad, and I was very nervous because it's my first world championships," said the 17-year-old Wang. "I made some small mistakes but overall my performance was good during the heats."
Peng hailed his teammate's impressive showing. "I did not show my best today, but I'm happy that my roommate Wang performed well," the 24-year-old said.
In the women's 1m springboard trials, Chinese diver Chen Yiwen finished first out of the 43 contenders with a total of 287.95 in five attempts.
Her teammate Chang Yani was 30.39 points behind and Kristina Ilinykh of Russia came third with a score of 245.30.
The women's 1m springboard finals are to be held on Saturday.
Preliminaries for the women's solo technical and duet technical in artistic swimming got under way at Yeomju Gymnasium.
Svetlana Kolesnichenko of Russia prevailed in the solo heats, scoring 94.1126 points. Ona Carbonell of Spain came second with a score of 91.8259, followed by Inui Yukiko of Japan with 91.7284.
Kolesnichenko, the defending champion in both solo and duet events, teamed up with Svetlana Romashina, finishing first in the duet technical trials with a total of 95.9301.
Chinese duet Huang Xuechen and Sun Wenyan followed with 93.4148, while Marta Fiedina and Anastasiya Savchuk of Ukraine came third with a total of 92.0610.
The finals for the solo and duet events are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Highlighting the championships, an opening ceremony was held at the Universiade Gymnasium on Kwangju Women's University campus.
The ceremony started with a scene with water brought in from more than 30 countries being poured into a fountain to send the messages of peace and prosperity for all mankind.
Under the slogan "Dive into Peace", South Korea hosted the World Swimming Championships for the first time. The opening ceremony was attended by President Moon Jae-in.
The 18th FINA World Championships was the largest ever, featuring a total of 2,538 athletes from 194 countries and regions. It topped the previous biggest in Kazan, Russia in 2015 that brought together 2,146 athletes from 184 nations and regions.
Through July 28, these athletes will compete for 76 gold medals in six disciplines: swimming, artistic swimming, diving, high diving, open water swimming and water polo.
China sent a squad of 99 athletes to vie in all disciplines. Olympic champions Sun Yang and Ye Shiwen will spearhead 43 Chinese swimmers, while Shi Tingmao, Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen will complete along with 14 other Chinese in diving.