Sports

Get ready for world-class action

Sixty of the world's elite swimmers, including the best from the Republic, will take part in the inaugural Singapore Swim Stars at the OCBC Aquatic Centre from Sept 5 to 7.

Olympic and world champions, including Australians James "The Missile" Magnussen, Christian Sprenger and "Mad Dog" Eamon Sullivan, American Nathan Adrian, Hungarian "Iron Lady" Katinka Hosszu (above) and Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte are the star names who have already confirmed their participation.

Harald Eltvedt, event director from Sports Swim Organisation - the company responsible for putting together the competition - told The New Paper they are in talks with the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, and the reigning World Swimmer of the Year, Ryan Lochte, in a bid to bring them over.

The 38-year-old former French swimmer revealed the unique nature of the event that he believes will light up the aquatic arena at the Singapore Sports Hub.

"Most swimming events aren't always very attractive to the general public. Most swimmers are actually very good-looking, but how are people going to recognise them when they are covered up in swim caps, goggles and headphones? 

"Over here, the swimmers will not wear these things until they hit the pool deck, and then we'll give them time to put on their gear," said Eltvedt.

"Spectators also have trouble keeping up with multiple heats and races.

INNOVATIVE CONCEPT 

"Our innovative concept is meant to combine world-class athletic performances with an exciting show, and our ambition is to make Singapore Swim Stars the biggest event after the Olympic Games and World Championships.

"We want to make this the Diamond League of swimming, and expand it to other places in the world."

Indeed, the main attraction of the two-hour show is the 50-metre freestyle challenge, where eight of the fastest men and women compete for a spot in the semi-finals, before the final two go head-to-head in a spectacular showdown.

Other events include straight finals for 100m events in freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke and backstroke, as well as a medley relay as swimmers from different countries team up.

"It's basically bringing the pinnacle of world swimming here to Singapore and having two hours' worth of Olympic finals here in Singapore," said Sprenger.

"Bragging rights are up for grabs, so we'll definitely be taking it seriously."

With a total prize purse of $200,000, Eltvedt added that there is a five-year commitment to hold the event here.

The public can also take part in fringe events such as open-water races, swimming clinics and a performance by the French national synchronised swimming team.

Some lucky kids will also get to team up with star swimmers for a kids' relay where the proceeds from ticket sales will go to SportCares.


We chose Singapore first because the swimmers agreed there has not been a prestigious long course event in South-east Asia, and there has been such a willingness from the Singapore Swimming Association to hold it here.

- Harald Eltvedt, event director, Sports Swim Organisation