DUBAI // Jay Benner, the head coach of the UAE swimming team, hopes the latest world class event to be held in Dubai will inspire Emiratis to become future champions.
The Fina/Arena Swimming World Cup will be held on October 7-8 at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, the first of a seven-leg World Cup series, which then moves to Stockholm, Moscow, Berlin, Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo.
Dubai hosted the Fina World Short Course Swimming Championships at the end of last year when some of the biggest names in the sport, including the United States multi-gold medal winner Ryan Lochte, competed.
Benner is delighted that another strong field is returning to Dubai and he wants this to be used as a learning curve for Emiratis under his watch.
"The hope in the long-term is that our swimmers being exposed to seriously world class performers will inspire them, and those who come behind, to push on and be able to compete at that level," he said.
"That is the best case scenario for UAE swimming. I would like to think they will study what the top guys can do and use this as an opportunity to learn from the very best.
"The long-term aim is to get an Emirati swimming capable of racing the very best and being able to experience a meeting such as this will be invaluable."
The two-day World Cup consists of 34 races where the winner of each individual event is awarded US$1,500 (Dh5,500); second place receives $1,000 (Dh3,700) and third place $500 (Dh1,900) meaning the UAE Swimming Federation will provide a total prize pool of US$102,000 (Dh375,000).
Another incentive for the top-class swimmers taking part is that a bonus of US$10,000 (Dh37,000) is on offer for each new world record set at the event.
"I am expecting a top notch field in Dubai," said Benner. "Fina are working hard to promote swimming all over the Middle East and they have been really supportive to everything we are trying to do in the UAE.
"I have said often enough that I want to see this country become a really important place for swimming and it's great to see that Fina have brought the World Cup here.
"The facilities are excellent and that is a huge factor. However, for me, this is a fantastic opportunity for our guys to get a close look at how elite athletes prepare themselves both mentally and physically.
Ahmed Al Falasi, the president of the UAE Swimming Federation, would like to see spectators come out to support what he believes will be two superb days of world class swimming by athletes from all corners of the planet.
"With so many nationalities living in Dubai, we are encouraging spectators to come out and show their support for their teams as they take each other on in this spectacular state-of-the-art venue which is still new to many," he said.
"And, of course, we will all be cheering on our own UAE swimmers as they take on the world."
Racing will begin at 9am on Friday October 7 with heats in the morning, and finals being contested at 6pm, with the same schedule the following day. Tickets to the event will be available at the door, at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex.
"It is a great honour to be hosting this fantastic event for the first time in Dubai," said Dr Ahmed Saad Al Sharif, Secretary General of the Dubai Sports Council.
"I have no doubt that we will once again witness some incredible action over the two days in October."