Star-studded field for world para swim meet

Some 173 athletes from 26 countries will compete in the Singapore leg of the World Para Swimming World Series from May 10 to 12.

The series, which will make its debut in Asia, is the first world-level para-swimming competition to be held in Singapore.

It will attract world-class swimmers like four-time Paralympian Jessica Long from the United States, who has 13 gold, six silver and four bronze Paralympic medals, and three-time Paralympian Sophie Pascoe from New Zealand, who won nine gold and six silver Paralympic medals, said the organisers yesterday.

Singapore's Toh Wei Soong and Ernie Gawilan from the Philippines will also renew their rivalry in the men's 50m freestyle S7 event after their close race at the Asian Para Games in October last year. Toh clocked 29.01sec to pip Gawilan to the gold by 2.91sec in Jakarta.

Toh said: "Ernie has been a well-known swimmer for several years, and he was there at the beginning of my career at the 2015 Asean Para Games.

"Having him as a competitor keeps me grounded as an athlete, and he needs me as much as I need him, because we help each other to improve by being there.

"I look forward to seeing him again."

Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) executive director Kelly Fan is hoping for a strong turnout at the OCBC Aquatic Centre during the meet.

She said: "Our athletes, with or without disabilities, need a strong home crowd behind them. However, it's not easy to get people to come forward, especially if they don't understand para-sports.

"There are also other mainstream events competing for public attention on the same days, so we can only hope for the best - that the stands will be filled eventually."

E-mail Singapore Disability Sports Council at corpcomm@sdsc.org.sg to reserve tickets. Free for heats (from 9am) and $2 each for finals (from 5.30pm).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2019, with the headline 'Star-studded field for world para swim meet'. Print Edition | Subscribe