x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hundreds dive in for swimming festival

Dubai Swims is the first event of the season designed to encourage people to et active.

DUBAI // From Olympic-level swimmers to 5 yearolds dipping their toes in water for the first time, an event aimed at encouraging people to take up a healthier lifestyle attracted hundreds of people this weekend.

Dubai Swims, now in its fourth year, saw almost 500 people take to Umm Suqeim beach in the shadow of the Burj Al Arab for an afternoon of music, fitness and swimming.

"I enjoy taking part in these kinds of things, not only because it's fun, but also because it can encourage other people," said Velimir Stjepanovic, 19, who represented Serbia in the London Olympics and finished sixth in the 200-metre butterfly.

Stjepanovic, who was born in Abu Dhabi, is a member of the Hamilton Aquatics Club in Dubai and was part of a group made up of dozens of members.

Zeina Sousa, 5, has twice-weekly classes at the centre, and was there with her two siblings and their parents.

"I really enjoy swimming because it's so much fun and I like playing in the water," she said.

Her father, Ahmed Sousa, 39, from Egypt, took his children along to get them involved in sport at an early age.

Visitors were treated to music as well as a range of fitness-related activities.Some took part in a 450m swim.