Sarah Sjostrom won gold, silver and bronze at 2016 Olympics. Image Credit: Courtesy: Organisers

Abu Dhabi: Swedish swimming star Sarah Sjostrom is eager to inspire aspiring swimmers at Saturday’s Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival in her role as the event’s ambassador.

Sweden’s first female Olympic swimming gold medallist — she won the women’s 100-metre butterfly in a world-record time of 55.48 seconds at last year’s Rio Games — will be joining scores of swimmers at Emirates Palace beach.

The 23-year-old, who also won the 2016 Olympic silver and bronze medals in the 200m and 100m freestyle respectively, told Gulf News in an exclusive phone interview: “I am very happy that they asked me to be ambassador. Chad le Clos [the South African former Olympic champion] was an ambassador last year and it’s the first time for me in Abu Dhabi, so I am very happy about that. “Swimming is a very good sport. I want to inspire some kids to swim and to think: ‘I want to be Sarah in the future’. I want to show them that I’m a real person and that they can see it’s possible to achieve what I have done.”

“I started swimming when I was nine,” she continued. “It’s a long road. I had to do two Olympic Games before I succeeded. What’s my message to aspiring swimmers? They have to go their own way and find their own way in training. Be confident in what you’re doing. You have to have the right coach and everything in your life needs to be right.

“You also have to work hard.”

The fourth annual Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival, sponsored by Daman’s ActiveLife, is a mass-participation swimming event for the entire community.

Organised by Professional Sports Group in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, the event aims to attract amateur swimmers from all over the UAE in a bid to increase fitness and raise awareness of safety in the water, in line with ADSC’s health awareness initiative.

The event offers a choice of disciplines for individuals, families and teams from the age of eight-plus. These distances are accessible for all swimming abilities, including three Junior Splash Dashes (100m, 300m and 500m), parent and child relays, adult relays, the Abu Dhabi Half Mile and the Abu Dhabi Mile event.

The 2017 event will be run in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi leg of the Fina/Hosa 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup, which will see professional swimmers from around the globe competing in the Emirates Palace Bay.

For more information and to enter the Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival by Daman’s ActiveLife, visit



07:30 Abu Dhabi Mile (1600m; 16+)

08:30 Abu Dhabi Splash Dash (800m; 14+)

09:15 Junior Splash Dash (500m; 12-15 years)

09:40 Junior Splash Dash (300m; 12-15 years)

10:05 Junior Splash Dash (300m; 8-11 years)

10:30 Junior Splash Dash (100m; 8-11 years)

11:00 Adult Relay (300m x 2-4 persons; 16+)

12:10 Family Fun Challenge (300m x 1 person; 16+ & 100m x 1 person; 8+)