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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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A chance to learn and grow at the Asian Youth Camp

Swimmers and coaches from 31 nations fine-tune their skills and update their knowledge at the Hamad Aquatic Centre.
Canadian Pierre Lafontaine Instructs The Swimmers
Canadian Pierre Lafontaine instructs the swimmers prior to the start of the camp. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

The Hamad Aquatic Centre came alive on Wednesday as 62 swimmers from 31 countries went through their paces in the 50M pool at the start of the Asian Youth Camp.

The 10-day camp, jointly organised by the Olympic Council of Asia, Qatar Swimming Association and the Qatar Olympic Committee ahead of the FINA World Cup, was an instant hit, with swimmers and coaches making the most of the opportunity.

While Canadian Pierre Lafontaine, who heads the camp, guided the young swimmers, coaches stood nearby, observing and making notes.

Lafontaine, who trained the Canadian team to the 2008 Beijing and ’12 London Olympics, said the camp was a great opportunity for everyone to learn from one another.

Young Swimmers Hamad Aquatic Centre
Young swimmers take part in the camp at the Hamad Aquatic Centre. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

“I don’t have all the answers to your questions and I can’t promise to make you Olympic champions. But during the camp, if we communicate and learn from one another, I assure that you’ll have made a great start to the journey. Sharing knowledge is key to our growth,” he told the swimmers during the opening address.

Lafontaine then turned his attention to coaches, saying they should play the role of kingmakers to perfection.

“No administrative official ever developed an Olympic champion. It’s always been good coaches who unlocked their wards’ potential. You’re kingmakers and should keep yourself updated so that your athlete can benefit. I hope this camp will open new horizons for you,” he said.

Two 15-year-old Qatari swimmers — Amr Othman and Ali Baker — are taking part in the FINA World Cup under Al Arabi club colours. They said they were excited about the camp.

Qatari Swimmers Ali Baker And Amr Othman
Qatari swimmers Ali Baker, left, and Amr Othman during the camp. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

“I’ll take part in 50M freestyle and butterfly races. While that’ll be exciting, I’m also looking forward to learning new things and making new friends at the Asian camp,” Othman told Inside Qatar.

“It’ll be really cool to share my World Cup experiences with new friends and perhaps keep in touch with some of them in the future,” echoed Baker, who will compete in 50M and 100M freestyle and 50M butterfly races.

While both children and coaches will watch the three-day FINA World Cup from Thursday, the trainers will also be able to attend the Association of Sports Institutes in Asia Congress, hosted by the Aspire Academy.