World Para swim series to make stop in S'pore

Local swimmers hope event will raise sport's profile as Republic hosts a leg for the 1st time

Singapore will host its biggest para swimming event next year when the World Para Swimming Series makes a stop from May 10-12.

World Para Swimming announced on Monday that the Republic will make its debut as a host in the eight-leg series along with Australia and the Netherlands.

Local swimmers welcomed the news, with three-time Paralympic champion Yip Pin Xiu noting that the level of competition will be higher than that at the 2015 Asean Para Games (APG) on home soil.

She told The Straits Times: "I hope there will be more awareness (raised among) both the general public as well as the athletes or any person with disabilities, (encouraging them) to start taking up sport.

"They don't have to do it competitively, but it's good to be active."

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Toh Wei Soong believes this is a good chance for Asians to compete at the world level.

"Previous meets have largely been in Europe or the Americas. It'll be great to have one that's closer to home," he added. "I hope that it will show young swimmers the prestige of the series and the level of competition they can expect at the highest level, with several of the strongest nations coming together. It makes the event more accessible and the sport more visible."

The third edition of the series is set to be the largest, surpassing this year's 1,000 swimmers from 72 countries. It will start in Melbourne in February and Singapore is the sixth leg. The venue has not been confirmed yet.

The other hosts are Indianapolis (United States), Glasgow (Britain), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy) and Berlin (Germany). This will be the second world-level para sports event in Singapore, after the first leg of the inaugural World Para Bowling Series in February, when more than 50 bowlers from eight countries competed.

Kevin Wong, who became Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) president in 2016, told ST that the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) had broached the subject of Singapore hosting some events last year, including the 2017 swim series. But he wanted to focus more on developing the local system before branching out to international events.

"After two years, we are ready to host. It's a good opportunity for our athletes to participate but, more importantly, for Singaporeans to have the opportunity to see a high-level para swimming event," he added, noting that the 2015 APG had opened Singaporeans' eyes to para sports. "We hope we can excite the population again."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2018, with the headline 'World Para swim series to make stop in S'pore'. Subscribe