UAE Swimming Coach Jay Benner is excited about the quality of the swimmers competing in next week’s FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup, and is looking forward to another big challenge for his UAE Swim Team.
With Olympic Champions, World Champions and World Record holders all featuring on the entry list, the competition on 2-3 October will be world class. Benner believes that regular exposure to this level of competition is not only great entertainment for Dubai sports fans but also has the potential to motivate children in the region to aspire to international success.
“There’s no doubt that being around the world class swimmers as they train and prepare is a valuable lesson for our team. They get to see what it takes in terms of attitude, commitment and dedication to be the best, and they realise that to compete at this level they have to adopt the same approach” said Benner.
“It is great that we are having events of this standard so regularly in our home pool, to reinforce the message and to expose our developing swimmers to top level competition. Of course the swimming fans here also get to enjoy exciting major international meets” he added.
Benner’s team is a mixture of age and experience, from seasoned international Obaid Al Jasmi who at 31 is still among the top local swimmers, to promising youngsters coming through from the Al Ain club. The team also includes London Olympic representative Mubarak Al Besher who, having had a taste of Olympic competition, is keen to continue to improve his times, as well as Mohammed Jesin who set a new national record in the 200m breaststroke in the recent GCC Championships in Bahrain.
Mohammed Al Ghafri, who last year became the first Emirati to take a medal in world cup event with a bronze in the 50m backstroke is also in the team and no doubt will want to repeat his podium appearance.
President of the UAE Swimming Federation, Ahmed Al Falasi added: “We have some great emerging talent here in the UAE and some of our swimmers have the chance to make the finals. As we all know in international sport if you make a final you have a chance for a medal so we are very much hoping to see a UAE swimmer on the podium again.”
The team has had an extremely busy calendar this year which, while it presents great opportunities for development, also presents challenges for this young swimming nation. Benner praised the recent announcement about the introduction of the Schools Olympic Games Project, saying that to achieve long term international success we need to increase the numbers of swimmers vying for places in the national team.
He was also full of praise for the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, saying “This is a magnificent facility and it is a great base for the National Team. The fact that we can have internal camps here regularly and bring all the team together from Dubai, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi is very positive and helps build a strong team. The guys are all very excited about competing in their home pool again and we hope that they will have great support from the Dubai crowds.”
Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council and chairman of the Organising Committee, Dr Ahmed Saad Al Sharif said “We are looking forward to seeing The UAE Team in action at the FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, and we urge the UAE public to come and support the national team.”
The Dubai competition, which will take place on October 2-3, will be the first of the eight-leg highly competitive World Cup series, which then moves on to Doha, Stockholm, Moscow, Berlin, Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore. The Swimming World Cup is contested in a 25m pool and sees both men and women vying for prize money in each of the 36 events.
The FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup will begin at 9am on Tuesday October 2 with heats in the morning, and finals being contested at 6pm, with the same schedule on Wednesday October 3. The opening ceremony is on at 5.30pm on Tuesday October 2. Tickets to the event will be available at the door, at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex, which is located on the Dubai Bypass Road (E611).