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FINA Marathon Swim World Series: First African host Seychelles prepares

FINA Marathon Swim World Series: First African host Seychelles prepares

Seychelles intensifies preparations to become the first African host of the FINA Marathon Swim World Series, which will be held in Seychelles on May 20, 2018.

Preparations are well underway with only 32 days remaining before elite swimmers from across the globe converge on the Beau Vallon Beach next month. The FINA/Hosa Marathon Swim World Series is an annually staged elite-level competition organised in over 9 locations and takes places in either fresh water or at sea.

Since 2007, FINA decided to focus on the 10km distance, as a direct consequence of the introduction of the 10km Marathon Swim into the Olympic programme in 2008. Seychelles will be hosting the second of the nine series in 2018, becoming the first African country to host the high-profile event.

Members of the local steering committee met with the local press on Tuesday to give an update on the preparations. The press event was also attended by the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, Minister for Youth, Sports & Culture, Mitcy Larue, Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Sherin Francis and Principal Secretary for Youth & Sports, Fabien Palmyre.

Minister Loustau-Lalanne confirmed that the male and female winners of this year’s initial series in Doha, Qatar, Dutch nationals, Ferry Weertman & Sharon Van Rouwendaal, were among the first to register for the Seychelles race. At least five international swimming federations have started to register their elite swimmers who will be taking part in the competition and all FINA affiliated Federations worldwide have until May 7th to register their elite swimmers. A member of the organising committee, Ronald Wong said Seychelles is envisaging to attract at least 40 male and 40 female participants this year.

Two Seychellois brothers, Bertrand and Damien Payet, will be taking part in the elite 10km open water swimming competition. The duo already competed in the initial race in Doha, Qatar last month. Aside of the elite 10 km race on May 20th, there will also be a mass participation event (Open Challenge) in the morning which is being opened to everyone in a bid to encourage the Seychellois population to be part of this historic event.

Minister Mitcy Larue urged students, families and friends to register to take part in the four different categories: 100m for students aged 7 years and under, 500m for students aged 10 years and under, 1km for students aged 11 to 13 years and 2.5 km which will be open to everyone.

Local and international participants wishing to take part in the open mass participation event have until May 14 to register. A registration fee from 25 rupees to 200 rupees will be applicable. Each participant will get a cap, a medal and a certificate. The first 8 participants who complete each race will also win monetary prizes and the first three will win the gold, silver and bronze medals. PS Palmyre said the Ministry of Education and private schools across the country have been contacted to encourage participation of students, and parents are being assured that all necessary safety measures will be in place. A dry run of the event will be held on April 29, which will be the perfect opportunity to test the level of preparedness and effectiveness of all the safety aspects.

It is to be noted that Seychelles will be hosting the FINA/Hosa Marathon Swim World Series for four consecutive years and both Minister Larue and Loustau-Lalanne have expressed hope that the organisation of the event will be at the highest level possible. The open water swimming competition is also expected to raise the island nation’s visibility as a tourist destination, hence private sector businesses, particularly those in the tourism sector, are being urged to support this event. “Initially we had some difficulties, but I can say that I am 100 satisfied that the hotels and tour operators are now onboard to provide their support,” said Minister Loustau-Lalanne.

The Seychelles Tourism Board is also a key partner that has not only contributed SCR2 million towards the event, but is also actively helping with the marketing side and in attracting international press.

South Africa’s SuperSport channel and nine journalists from international media organisations in Italy, China, South Korea are among those that have confirmed that they will be coming to Seychelles to provide coverage. STB’s Chief Executive, Sherin Francis said: “STB is monitoring the international federations registering as this will allow us to decide which press to invite to cover the event so as to give Seychelles maximum visibility as they will be looking out for their own athletes. For now, we have five international federations that have confirmed their participation but the figure will definitely be increasing in the coming weeks.”

From Seychelles, the 2018 FINA Marathon Swim World Series will move to Portugal, Hungary, Canada, China, Taiwan, before ending in the United Arab Emirates in November.