Lydia JAcoby
Lydia Jacoby Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi Sports Council has announced an array of top international swimmers confirmed to participate in the Fina World Swimming Championships (25m), bringing world-class star power for spectators to enjoy in Abu Dhabi.

Taking place at Etihad Arena from December 16-21, organisers have revealed some of the leading names from the world of swimming from North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia-Pacific, who are set to compete across a range of distances next month.

In a star-studded field, Abu Dhabi will welcome several international superstars including six-time Olympic medallist and World Champion Kyle Chalmers from Australia, two-time Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Tom Dean from the UK, multiple world champion Daiya Seto from Japan, South Africa’s Matthew Sates, 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 100m freestyle at the Fina Swimming World Cup in Russia in October and is aiming to break further records this December.

Reigning Olympic Champion in the 200m freestyle, Dean and multiple world junior record holder (200m free, 200m individual medley) Matthew Sates will be the men to beat for the medium distance freestyle events. The latter will look 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 World Cup, is Japan’s elite star Seto. Specialising 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 Swimming Championships. Aiming for another gold in this December’s championships, Seto was also the first Asian swimmer to become a world champion in an individual medley event.

Jacoby, 17, will be one of the top names from Team USA following her breakout performance in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where she stunned the world winning gold in the 100m breaststroke event. Her swift rise through the elite swimming ranks started back at the USA Swimming Winter Nationals in 2018 when she qualified for the US Olympic Swimming Trials at the tender age of 14.

Representing Canada is 21-year-old Margaret MacNeill, 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 incredible performance in the 10km open water event at the Tokyo Olympic Games won him gold. Wellbrock became the first swimmer to win both the 1500m freestyle and the 10km open water events in the same edition of a FINA World Championships in 2019. Florian will compete in both the short course swimming in Etihad Arena and the open water swimming in Yas Bay.

Italian stars Gregorio Paltrinieri — the current 1,500m freestyle (short course) 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 2013, with hopes to break his own world record.

Quadarella will aim to add to her 10-medal haul, which includes bronze in the 800m freestyle event at the Tokyo Olympics, gold in the 1500m freestyle and silver in the 800m freestyle at the FINA World Championships 2019.

The star-studded line-up of international swimming superstars are among more than 1,000 athletes who will compete in 44 World Championship titles across six days, for a total $2.8 million prize pool.

Commenting on his participation in the upcoming championships, Chalmers said: “2021 has been an incredible year. 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 that more special.”

Talking about her goals for December’s championships, Jacoby said: “Medalling 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. 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.”