doha 2014

-    Chad Le Clos and Ryan Lochte set up battle in 100m fly and 200m free finals
-    Katinka Hosszu sets two Championship Records in qualifying
-    Young stars get the chance to shine

Doha – 3rd December, 2014: Swimming’s showpiece event, the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships, got underway in fierce style today as the first of five days of thrilling action kicked off in the capital.

FINA Male Swimmer of the Year, Chad Le Clos, made his intentions for World Record glory clear from the outset. Speaking after morning heats, where the South African qualified for the 100m butterfly semi-finals and the 200m freestyle finals tonight – sure to be two of the most hotly contested events of the meet - he said:

“The butterfly events are my main focus for this meet, I want to break the world record in all three fly events.”

Le Clos will have tough competition in the 200m freestyle in the form of one of the world’s best short course swimmers, Ryan Lochte, who just made the final, qualifying eighth fastest.

Lochte, who has won gold at the last five FINA World Swimming Championships (25m), said:

“That was good, it was my first race since Pan Pacs. I’m not looking at any one race, I have 10 swims here and I want to give them all my best shot. Tonight will be a fast night, if you look the eight qualifiers, there’s less than a second between us. We are all going to be there for the finish. Hopefully I can squeeze in for a medal, I’m going to do my best. It’s a tough race.”

Meanwhile Katinka Hosszu amazed crowds at Hamad Aquatic Centre once again, setting two Championships Records in the 400m Individual Medley (4:21.05) and the 100m Backstroke (55.70). The Iron Lady will swim 10 events in Doha and has already flown out of the blocks, also qualifying for the 200m butterfly.

She commented:

“I was honestly trying to save my energy this morning. My coach was jumping on the sides so I thought I hadn’t made it. I didn’t expect to get the time I did! I’m focusing on the two butterfly events – the rest, I’m just going to do my best. It will be tough competition tonight.”

The stage is set for a familiar showdown between Hosszu and Mireia Belmonte Garcia of Spain, who qualified second behind the Hungarian in the 400m Individual Medley and the 200m Butterfly.

Elsewhere, the 12th FINA World Championships welcomed a throng of newcomers to their first international competition. At just 16 years old, Amy Bilquist of the USA knocked three seconds off her qualifying time in the 100m backstroke to get through to tonight’s semi-finals. Commenting on her rise through the ranks, she said:

“I’m very excited to be here, this is my first major event. I topped my high school programme and did well at the junior nationals so I sat down with my coach and we decided to take it more professionally and planned it out. I know what I’m meant to do and I was able to achieve that today.”

Home-grown talent from Qatar also had the chance to take to the stage in their home nation. Omar Hisham, who swam in the 100m Butterfly heats, said:

“It’s rare to find people my age at World Championships so it’s very exciting to be here and take part for my country.  It’s amazing to walk up to your lane and see your own flag. I’m planning to go to university in the USA so I can continue my coaching. I did well in the GCC championships so I think I can do well internationally.”

The 12th FINA World Swimming Championships – Doha takes place December 3rd – 7th at Hamad Aquatic Centre. The event at the pinnacle of the swimming season opened today with a spectacular Opening Ceremony, transporting spectators back in time in an authentic celebration of Qatari culture.

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