x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Fina World Junior Swimming Championships: Australia already have eyes for Rio

Coach Michael Scott wants young Australian swimmers to gain experience in Dubai as they start to make preparations for 2016 Olympics.

Australia’s Mack Horton is one of many standouts who will compete this week in Dubai. Quinn Rooney / Getty Images
Australia’s Mack Horton is one of many standouts who will compete this week in Dubai. Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

More than 750 of the planet's best young swimmers, representing 91 nations, have touched down in Dubai ahead of the Fina World Junior Championships, which begin Monday at the Hamdan bin Mohammed Sports Complex.

On Friday, Team Australia arrived in the UAE from a training base in Doha, bringing with them the promising 14-year-old freestyler Shayna Jack and the 17-year-old distance swimmer Mack Horton.

Michael Scott, the Australia coach, said he expects his swimmers to gain valuable international race experience, perhaps with the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in view, at these junior championships, which run through August 31.

"A number of these swimmers have already shown what they are capable of at a national and international level, with over half of this team representing Australia at the Trans-Tasman, Junior Pan Pacific or Australian Youth Olympic Festival in the past two years," he said.

"This meet with be an important stepping stone for the swimmers looking to gain selection on to senior teams in the near future and the racing experience gained will benefit them as they move forward into the next stages of the journey towards Rio and beyond."

Jack is the youngest member of the Australia team, and she gained attention by placing fifth, behind four London 2012 Olympians, in the 50-metre freestyle at the Australian championships, in May. She will compete in freestyle races at 50, 100 and 200 metres.

Horton hopes to be the next great Australian distance swimmer. He recorded a sub-15-minute swim in the 1,500m freestyle in May, knocking five seconds off his personal best.

He will swim in four individual freestyle events, from 200m up, during the six-day meet.

Hessa Al Harmoudi, a member of the organising committee, said it is exciting to see the competitors and their coaches and families arrive in the city.

"We are delighted to be welcoming so many people from around the world to Dubai for this event," he said.

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