The future Olympians, who are on a year-long FINA swimming scholarship at Thanyapura while they prepare for the Rio Olympics, stormed to victory in the pool in Kazan, Russia breaking a total of EIGHT National Records from four different countries.
Thanyapura’s Head Swimming Coach Miguel Lopez, who has trained several Olympians and Paralympians to victory, said: “The debut of the ‘FINA Road to Río’ group has been such a success so far, with five swimmers from FOUR different countries contributing to eight new national records so far at the FINA World Championships. I am so proud of all of them!”
First to dive in and go for glory was Nepalese swimmer Sofia Gadegaard Shah, who just three months ago spent a while living in her car after the devastating Nepal Earthquake. Sofia placed an incredible first in her heat in the Women’s 200m Freestyle race, beating the Nepalese record with a time of 2.18.93. Later that week, she broke another Nepalese National Record in the 50m Freestyle event.
Following Sofia’s incredible run was a double whammy by Kimiko Raheem and Cheran de Silva, of Sri Lanka, who contributed to the 4 x 100m Individual Medley Relay Record. Following this, Kimiko celebrated once again later in the week after she broke the Women’s 200m Backstroke with a time of 2.21.1.
A day after Nepal celebrated Sofia’s glory team mate Sirish Gurung smashed his own National Record for the Men’s 100m Freestyle with a time of 58.22 but the records didn’t stop there
The Maldives was cheering at the FINA World Championships when Aminath Shajan beat her current Women’s 200m Breaststroke National Record by a whooping two seconds.
Finishing off a successful week was Indian swimmer Sajan Prakash, who broke the 1500m Freestyle National Record and earned himself a B Qualifying time for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Speaking from Kazan, Sofia said: “Building up to race day, I felt that I was ready. Training with Miguel at Thanyapura since May has prepared me for that exact moment of stepping on to the blocks at the FINA World Championships here in Kazan.
Sofia continued: “Getting onto the blocks at the FINA World Championships, I knew exactly how I had to swim this race. During my race I knew I had to focus on long and fast strokes – making sure to bring out my kick.
“After finishing my race, I felt as though I had just swum the best race I possibly could have at this time. I’m so happy to have swum a new national record but most importantly a new personal best time even after the earthquake. I feel that I have represented my country, and Thanyapura well!”
The five swimmers are just a quarter of the 20 scholars, who come from all around the world, on the year-long FINA scholarship at Thanyapura in Phuket, Thailand to swim in the Olympics and FINA World Championships.
The scholarship applicants were selected from 10 countries, including Thailand, Nepal, the Maldives, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Timor Leste and Rwanda.
Thanyapura’s swimming facilities include a 50m Olympic competition pool, a 25m training and teaching pool, Omega Track start blocks, a Daktronics timing system and scoreboard, an underwater video analysis window, ozone filtration and sports science services.