The presence of Ian Thorpe in the UAE has clearly had an inspiring affect on the country's youngsters if the Dubai Swimming Championships are a reliable barometer.
UAE school swimming records are sent tumbling
The presence of Ian Thorpe, the multi-Olympic gold medal winner, in the UAE has clearly had an inspiring affect on the country's youngsters if the Dubai Swimming Championships are a reliable barometer.
Six schools and 300 primary children took part - watched by as many cheering supporters - in the 56-race event where countless records were broken at the Dubai English Speaking School (Dess) last Thursday.
Even Thorpe, the great Australian, who has been training in Abu Dhabi for his long-awaited comeback to competitive swimming, would have been impressed with the way the juniors powered their way through the pool.
At the end of an action-packed day, Jess Jumeirah School finished top among competing schools with an impressive total of 335 points and took home the prestigious trophy.
In second place were Dess, the hosts, on 314. Jebel Ali Primary School came third on 276, and fourth place was taken by Jess Ranches Primary School on 224. Fifth place went to Jumeirah Primary School (JPS) 199 and then Horizon School with 164 points.
The annual event takes place between the six top primary schools in Dubai and every year the standards gets higher and the timings come down.
Children from Year 3 to Year 6 took part in races covering all four strokes - crawl, breast, back and butterfly - plus individual medleys and team relays for boys and girls. The race distances ranged from 25 to 100 metres.
Every school involved saw personal and school records shattered over the 56 races, which gives an idea of the high level of competition across the board.
Swimmers for Dess, the hosts, attained over 40 personal best times, plus a number of their own school records were broken.
There were many highlights for the Dess team, however, particular mention goes to the Year 3 boys who won both their relays as well as back crawl and front crawl individual races. One of the gala's outstanding performances came from the Dess Year 6 Girls team, who won all six individual races plus both of their relays.
And due to their achievements, the Dess Year 6 team won overall in the age category. Out of 42 individual races swum by Dess students, 35 resulted in personal best timings for those involved.
However, it was Jess Jumeriah School who came out on top of the six competing schools, although this was the closest competition in four years of this event.