ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi Sports Council has confirmed that a number of top international swimmers will participate in the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) at the Etihad Arena from Dec. 16 to 21.
Organizers on Monday revealed that some of the best swimmers from North America, Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific are set to compete across a range of distances next month.
Among those heading to Abu Dhabi will be six-time Olympic medalist and world champion Kyle Chalmers from Australia; Tokyo 2020 double gold medalist Tom Dean from the UK; multiple world champion Daiya Seto from Japan; South Africa’s Matthew Sates, the recent overall winner of the Swimming World Cup 2021; and Olympic breakout star Lydia Jacoby from the US.
In an impressive year so far, Chalmers set the world record in the men’s 100m freestyle (25m) at the Swimming World Cup in Russia last month and is aiming to break further records in the UAE.
“2021 has been an incredible year,” Chalmers said. “I earned my first ever world record at the World Cup in Kazan and took home silver at the Olympic Games. What better way to end the year than at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Abu Dhabi? It’s been a long journey back since my shoulder surgery at the start of the year, but the challenges, sacrifices and bridges I have had to climb to get to this point in my career make it all the more special.”
Reigning 200m freestyle Olympic champion Dean and multiple world junior record holder Sates will be the men to beat in the medium-distance freestyle events. The latter will be looking to continue his record-breaking run in Abu Dhabi, following his stellar performances in the 2021 Junior World Cup, where he set world records in the 200m freestyle and individual medley.
Returning to the UAE following his appearance in the 2016 FINA Swimming World Cup in Dubai is Japan’s elite star Seto. Specializing in butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle events, Seto’s career highlights include gold medal triumphs in the 400m individual medley at the 2012, 2014 and 2016 world championships (25m). Seto was the first Asian swimmer to become world champion in an individual medley event.
Seventeen-year-old Jacoby will be one of the top names in the American team following her breakout performance in Tokyo this year, where she stunned the world by winning gold in the 100m breaststroke event. Her swift rise through the elite swimming ranks started at the US winter nationals in 2018, when she qualified for the US Olympic trials at the tender age of 14.
“Medaling at this summer’s Olympics was a dream come true, and I’ll definitely be racing for more in the upcoming championships in Abu Dhabi,” Jacoby said. “I can’t wait to finish off this incredible year strong with some of the world’s strongest athletes supporting me and racing alongside me.”
Representing Canada is 21-year-old Margaret Mac Neil, the current Olympic and world champion and continental record holder in the women’s 100m butterfly event.
European sporting talent includes 24-year-old Florian Wellbrock from Germany, whose outstanding performance in the 10km open water event at the Tokyo Olympic Games won him gold. Wellbrock became the first swimmer to win both the 1,500m freestyle and the 10km open water events in the same world championships in 2019. He will compete in both the short course swimming in the Etihad Arena and the open water swimming in Yas Bay.
Italian stars Gregorio Paltrinieri — the current 1,500m freestyle (25m) world record holder — and long-distance event specialist Simona Quadarella have also been confirmed for this year’s competition. Paltrinieri will return to the UAE, following his appearance at the Swimming World Cup in Dubai in 2013, with hopes of breaking his own world record.
Quadarella will aim to add to her 10-medal haul, which includes bronze in the 800m freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics and gold in the 1,500m freestyle and silver in the 800m freestyle at the 2019 world championships.
More than 1,000 athletes will compete for 44 world championship titles across six days in Abu Dhabi, with a total prize pool of $2.8 million up for grabs.