Young talents make a splash in H2O Cup
CATHERINE W GICHUKI
DOHA OVER 380 young swimmers from 27 Middle East clubs took part in the second day of the H2O Long Course Spring Cup 2012 swimming competition at Hamad Aquatic Centre in Aspire Zone on Friday.
Organised by H2O Swim Club, some of the participants included children as young as 7-year-old.
They belonged to clubs from Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The swimming competition is scheduled to conclude on Saturday.
The opening ceremony was graced by members of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra.
There were, altogether, 37 events on Friday. The swimmers participated in 1,500 metres freestyle and all strokes category in 400 metres, 200 metres, 100 metres and 50 metres, in addition to individual medley and team relays.
The swimmers were divided in the age group categories of nine and under, 10 and 11, 12 and 13, 14 and 15, and 16 and over. The winning teams will receive awards — based on FINA points — at the end of the competition. Medals will be awarded to the first three positions in each age category. Certificates will be provided to fourth, fifth and sixth places for each event.
Top three swimmers will be awarded smartphones by Vodafone and the overall best male and female swimmers will be recognised.
Participating clubs from Qatar included Qatar National Team, Torpedoes, Doha Dolphins, H2O Swim Club and Al Ahli, Al Arabi, Al Wakrah, Al Khor, Al Rayyan, Al Saad, Qatar and Gharaffa Sports Clubs.
Oman was represented by ABA Muscat Vipers, BSM Muscat Marlins and Muscat Elite Training Squad.
Clubs from the UAE included UAE Swimming, Wahoo Sports Dubai, Speedo Swim Squad, American School of Dubai and Active Sports Swimming Academy. The Team Typhoon and Khobar Laser Swim Team represented Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain Swimming Federation and Elite Swim Team represented Bahrain and Kuwait, respectively.
Lebanon was participating in the competition for the first time and was represented by the International College Beirut and Lebanon Swimming Federation.
Speaking to Qatar Tribune, H2O Swim Club Managing Director Seema Pascoe said that this was the largest swimming competition since the club’s foundation, further promoting the swimming culture in Qatar.
“It has taken us four years to reach where we are now. We are on our way to reaching our goal.
People are becoming more aware of this year-round sporting activity.
Parents are also making it a necessity for children to learn how to swim safely. Swimming is important because it teaches children how to lead a discipline life, manage time efficiently and be focused,” she said.
Yuriy Vlasov, junior coach of the Qatar National team, said this event was a step ahead of the main Gulf competition to be held in Bahrain, this September. He added that events like these help in identifying the best swimmers from different clubs that represent Qatar at international platforms.
The coach also thanked the Qatar Swimming Federation for its efforts in improving swimming standards in the country.
“This event will give swimmers experience as they prepare for the Gulf Swimming competition in September. It’s good for Qatar to host such events. It will enable us identify the best talents for our team. The Qatar National team comprises young swimming talents.
It is a good opportunity for kids to improve their swimming skills,” Vlasov said.
Seventeen-year-old Ahmed Atari, a swimmer from Qatar National team, who will represent Qatar in the London Olympics 2012, said, “This event is a nice challenge for me before the Olympics. I am proud to represent Qatar in this summer’s sporting spectacle. I am training well to get my best personal scores.” Iyad Hindiyeh, a coach of Dubai’s Wahoo Sports Club, said, “The facility here is excellent. It’s world class. This kind of event gives swimmers an opportunity to compete at a higher level within the Gulf region. This is a way of promoting swimming as a sporting activity.
We hope to see such competitions, more often, in the near future.”