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FINA World Juniors Preview: Ushering the competition

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FINA World Juniors International

The FINA World Junior Swimming Championships is set to be held in Asia for the first time this week when Singapore hosts the biennial swim meet for talented young swimmers from around the world. Photo: SportSG

This August, talented young swimmers under 18 years of age will be arriving from all over the world to compete at the prestigious FINA World Junior Swimming Championships. The fifth instalment of this biennial swim meet will be held in Asia for the very first time.

While Team Singapore has sent its very own representatives, you should also keep an eye out for the foreign competition in store.

Kyle Chalmers, possibly the fastest 16-year old from the land down under, is widely expected to take up former Australian superstar Ian Thorpe’s mantle once he comes of age. The teenage swim sensation is definitely on his way to filling Thorpe’s big shoes after breaking the national age-group record in a 100m freestyle race earlier this year.

A representative of Great Britain, 17-year old Luke Greenbank has been raising eyebrows in the swimming world after his stint of record-breaking international meets in 2014. The young swimmer displayed his strengths at the recent European Junior Championships, securing a gold medal in the 200m backstroke event. He built on that at the 2015 European Games, held in Baku, Azerbaijan earlier this year, with a collection of gold and silver medals for the 200m and 100m backstroke events as well as the 4x100m medley relay.

Another swimmer who had a very successful time in Baku was 16-year old Russian Arina Openysheva. She took home seven gold medals to become the most decorated athlete at the event. While that should certainly be considered a rare feat for most swimmers, Openysheva has achieved this mantle before, namely with her eight-gold haul at the 2013 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival and at the 2014 European Junior Championships.

Although she was born in Ukraine, Viktoriya Gunes will be representing Turkey in the pool for this year’s FINA World Junior Swimming Championships. She has plenty of experience in the competition, having won a hat trick of gold, silver and bronze medals during her 2013 debut. 17-year old Gunes will certainly have her sights set on winning the 100m and 200m breaststroke races.

Michael Andrew, the youngest swimmer to turn professional in American history, has been touted as the next Michael Phelps. Although his decision to go pro was a source of discussion amongst his followers, his presence at the 5th FINA World Junior Swimming competition will certainly be highly anticipated. With numerous age-group records in his wake, Andrew will be looking to make the upcoming competition yet another memorable pit stop on his way to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
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