Pool battle from today

Pool battle from today

The qualifying heats of the men’s 200m freestyle shall see the 10th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) spring into action at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai



The qualifying heats of the men’s 200m freestyle shall see the 10th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) spring into action at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai from Wednesday. It’s the first event in a five-day schedule of world-class competition at the pool, with many of the planet’s best swimmers going head-to-head across various disciplines and distances.

One such titanic tussle will pit America’s Rebecca Soni against another global great in Liesel Jones, of Australia.

Soni got the better of her rival at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she pipped Jones to gold in the 200m breaststroke, and the Pan-Pacific Championships in Irvine, California, last August, when she did the 100m & 200m sprint double.

However, Jones more than held her own in China two years ago, coming away with two gold medals in the 100m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay respectively and beating Soni twice in the process, so the American isn’t remotely underestimating her opponent.

“It’s a very good rivalry,” the 23-year-old said. “I really respect Liesel and I think she respects me, so that’s always a good thing. I hadn’t got to race her very much at all outside the Olympics, so being able to get to know her a bit more at the Pan-Pacs in California this past summer was a great thing.

“She’s a great girl and I know she is going to come back stronger (after coming second to Soni in California). I’m sure we are in for an exciting race against each other.”

The New Jersey-born athlete has been ominously warned though that Jones was performing at something close to her peak in the build-up to this meet, with Australia coach Leigh Nugent explaining: “Liesel is very well indeed. I was watching her work in her home programme and she seemed to be swimming out of her skin.

“She talks about her turning not being her strength, but – to be honest – I thought she was doing pretty well on her turns.”

Meanwhile, the gathered international media were given a guided tour of the state-of-the-art venue, which was built specifically for these championships, yesterday and it clearly has been very warmly received by those dipping their toes.

Zimbabwe’s Tim Ferris, who will be competing in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke, described the complex as “fantastic and breathtaking,” adding: “I thought I’d walked into Madison Square Garden!”

The world and Olympic 1,500m champion, Oussama Mellouli, of Tunisia, said: “I’m super-excited. It’s an incredible venue, a fast pool and I cannot wait to get this competition going.”

Tickets at the door are available for just AED10 for the morning heats and start from AED20 for each evening’s finals session. There is also free parking on site and directions can be found at the tournament website: www.dubaiswimming2010.ae.


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