Hundreds flock to Hamdan for Dubai International Aquatic Championships

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Olympian Mubarak Salem is 0.05 seconds off the qualifying mark.

Over 900 swimmers have descended upon the Hamdan Sports Complex to compete at the Dubai International Aquatic Championships (DIAC), which kicks off today at the impressive Dh1.1billion facility.

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Competitors from 24 countries and 65 different clubs will take to the pool to race across nine age-group categories, starting from 10-year-olds, all the way up to 60-plus.

The event also serves as an Arab Swimming Championship and as a qualifying meet for this summer’s World Aquatic Championships in Kazan.

Three Emirati swimmers – Mubarak Salem, Mohammed Al Ghaferi and Yaaqoub Al Saadi – will be seeking B-cut qualifying times for Kazan. B-cut swimmers are used to fill the spaces left beyond those who have reached the A-cut standard.

“I think B-cut times are quite feasible from our boys,” UAE national team assistant coach Mohamed El Zanaty told Sport360°.

“Mubarak is just 0.05 seconds off the B-cut in the 50m breaststroke. His time is 28.60 seconds while the B-cut is 28.55 seconds.

“As for Ghaferi and Yaaqoub, they’ve both been able to swim good times in short course in the 50m back, they now just need to do it in the long course pool.”

The DIAC will also include an open water race (April 7) at the Mina Al Seyahi beach, as well as a water polo event (April 7-11) at the HSC.

The water polo competition will feature five local clubs, Ahly and Heliopolis sides from Egypt, FTC Club from Hungary and the Qatar national team.

Meanwhile, Dubai-based European champion Velimir Stjepanovic has flown to the Netherlands where he will be hoping to achieve Olympic A-cut qualifying times at the Eindhoven Swim Cup.

The Cup starts tomorrow and concludes on April 5 and it will give Stjepanovic an opportunity to get his Olympic qualification out of the way early so that he can focus on training for Worlds and Rio 2016.

The Serb, who was sixth in the 200m butterfly at the previous Olympics in London, did some altitude training in Mexico a couple of months ago before flying to Brazil where he was invited to visit the pool where he will be competing in in 2016.

“We weren’t able to see the pool which is unfortunate but we went and experienced the climate and all the other things that are going to be going on there so that was important,” he said.

“Mexico camp was really hard and I think it really benefitted all of us.”

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