The Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival by Daman’s ActiveLife at the Emirates Palace beach received overwhelming response. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The fourth annual Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival 2017, presented by Daman’s ActiveLife on Saturday, saw more than 700 swimmers taking part in the Emirates Palace hotel beach event alongside 2016 Olympic gold medallist Sarah Sjostrom and the veteran Emirati swimmers: the Al Jasmi brothers.

Sjostrom, who won Rio 2016 gold in the 100-metre butterfly in a world-record time of 55.48 seconds, said after finishing the Abu Dhabi Splash Dash race: “It was fantastic joining swimmers at Emirates Palace beach this morning. I am more used to swimming shorter distances in a pool, so swimming 800 metres in open waters is a new experience for me.

“It was terrifying at first, but exciting and fun as I got into it. The weather was great today and these calm waters are great for everyone wanting to give swimming a try.”

The Al Jasmi brothers, Obaid, Saeed and Sultan, took part in a series of races throughout the day, meanwhile. Sultan, who competed in the 800-metre race, said: “It is always a wonderful experience returning to the Emirates Palace beach for this event and seeing the positive vibes all around. My brothers and I are here today because we hope to inspire a younger generation of swimmers to work hard and be committed to this wonderful sport for as long as they can.”

Nicholas Roselt won the Abu Dhabi Splash Dash in the male category while Marion Hanquet came first in the women’s section. The winners of the Junior Slash Dash races were Adam Samir, Jake Hutchinson and Laith Abulaila, who won the 100m, 300m and 500m races respectively. The female winners of the Junior Slash Dash races were Saki Kurita who came first in the 100m race, Amalie Henriksen in the 300m race and Isabella Potts in the 500m race.

Anne Schuumans and Hannah Dean prevailed in the event’s longest race, the Abu Dhabi Mile, in the male and female categories respectively. UAE swimmers delivered strong performance at this year’s events and took part in all races. Top participants were Ali Subait, who was third in the Abu Dhabi Mile race and Khalifa Al Falasi, who won the Abu Dhabi Splash Dash race.

The Family Fun Challenge overall winning team was the De Jager family. The family race saw parents swim with their children in a relay format, where parents swam 300m and children 100m. The four-person relay race winning team was the 4th Lane Swim Academy, who were the fastest to swim 300m each.

Michael Bitzer, Daman’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’ve just witnessed another impressive Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival and the competition between the swimmers was simply superb to watch. Bringing together the community in such a way to compete and exercise is testament to Daman’s vision of a healthier Abu Dhabi, and we hope this will encourage more residents of the capital to get active, whether it’s to compete in the next swimming festival itself or simply to adopt a healthier lifestyle through a sport they enjoy.”