x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Al Jasmi brothers making a splash

The quartet will enter record books when they compete in the relay competition of the Fina World Swimming Championships at Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai.

From left to right: Saeed, Bakheet, Obaid and Faisal al Jasmi of the UAE swimming team will enter the Guinness Book of Records tomorrow when they compete in the 4x100m freestyle relay as the first set of brothers to do so as a foursome in the Short Course Worlds. Charles Crowell for The National
From left to right: Saeed, Bakheet, Obaid and Faisal al Jasmi of the UAE swimming team will enter the Guinness Book of Records tomorrow when they compete in the 4x100m freestyle relay as the first set of brothers to do so as a foursome in the Short Course Worlds. Charles Crowell for The National

Obaid al Jasmi is the 29-year-old captain of the UAE Swim Team. He has competed at the past two Olympic Games, met Michael Phelps, Lionel Messi and Rafael Nadal, and broken countless national, Gulf and Asian records.

Yet tomorrow afternoon when he stands over a 50 metre pool preparing to submerge himself in the water, he will be seconds away from achieving one of his life's definitive goals.

Obaid, together with brothers Saeed, Bakhit and Faisal, will represent the UAE in the 4x100m freestyle relay on the opening day of the Fina World Swimming Championships (25m) at Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai. In doing so, he will enter the Guinness Book of Records as the quartet become the first set of brothers to compete together as a foursome in the Short Course Worlds.

"When I was young, I was always dreaming of being in the Guinness Book of Records," Obaid said, shortly after finishing a morning training session. "When I knew my brothers would be competing in this competition, I spoke to the [UAE Swimming] Federation and asked them if my brothers could be in the relay team, so we can enter the record books.

"The federation told me that my brothers should work hard and ensure they are the best. Today, I am happy they have achieved that because I had a dream to be at the Olympics and I did it; this was my second one and I look forward to ticking it off."

"It was Obaid's idea," Faisal said. "Three years ago when it was first announced that Dubai would host this event, Obaid told us about the opportunity we might have in the relay. Since then he has been very supportive to us."

Faisal, at age 19 the youngest of the quartet, has recently returned home from the United States to compete in the five-day championships, while Bakhit, 25, and Saeed, 28, both work for Adnoc and have struggled to secure lengthy periods of leave in order to train. All four brothers were, however, able to travel to Kuwait earlier this month to train under the watchful eye of Jay Benner, their American coach.

Sultan al Jasmi, a fifth brother who also studies in the US, is unable to compete as he has exams and Mohammed, the oldest brother at 31, will help manage the team this week. Surely it is no coincidence that six brothers are all talented swimmers. So what is the secret to such familial swimming success?

Faisal: "The secret is the commitment. We love swimming and we have dedicated our lives to it."

Obaid: "No, the secret is we challenge each other. It pushes us on to achieve our goals."

Bakhit: "We have sibling rivalry, of course. We challenge ourselves every time. That is how we motivate ourselves. And not only swimming, also football, computer games. We are very competitive."

From tennis' Williams sisters to golf's Molinaris, there are countless examples of successful sporting siblings. Faisal explains it best: "In swimming, if Saeed beats me, I will be happy for him, but it will also make me train harder because next time I want to win, you know?"

The format of this week's championships sees Faisal take to the pool first to compete in the heats of the 200m freestyle, before Bakhit and Obaid take part in the 100m butterfly. Depending on results they may qualify for the semi-finals later in the day and then the following day's finals.

"It is my first world championship, so I am not sure what to expect, but I will do my best," Bakhit said. "I'm feeling good now though; very excited."

Faisal added: "You get butterflies in your stomach. You just think: 'I want to swim, do my best and break national records.'"

With a record 125 countries competing, including the US, Australia and Zimbabwe, who between them took 22 gold medals at the World Championships in Manchester two years ago, the brothers are realistic in their aims.

"I know it is hard for us to be in the semi-finals or the finals here," Obaid said. "The federation told us to be in the top 50 swimmers in the world so that is our goal."

"That and to break national records," Saeed added. "We want to show everyone that this one family can achieve national records and do something special.

"It is not just for the al Jasmi family though, it is a great achievement for the UAE as well and we are very proud of the opportunity."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

Schedule

What: Fina World Swimming Championships
When: From tomorrow until Sunday December 19
Where: Hamdan bin
Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, Dubai
Time: Opening ceremony 6.15pm; daily from 10am (heats) and 7pm (finals)
Tickets: Dh20. VIP package Dh450