The waiting will soon be over for almost 150 of the world’s leading Para swimmers, with the third edition of the World Para Swimming World Series set to begin in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday (15 February).
Following on from the hugely successful 2017 and 2018 events, Melbourne will see swimmers on the blocks in the first of seven stops across four continents between February and June this year. They aim to dethrone 2018 champions Daniel Dias of Brazil in the men's competition and Louise Fiddes of Great Britain among women.
It is the first time the World Series travels to Australia, one of the global heartlands of the sport. Singapore will also stage the high-profile event for the first time in 2019. Other four countries set to welcome the world's best swimmers are USA, Brazil, Great Britain and Italy, before the final stage in Berlin, Germany, in early June.
With swimmers from more than 15 countries contesting 64 events over the three-day meet, this weekend’s World Series will give an early indication of the swimmers to watch in the lead-up to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Among the stars going through their paces between 15 and 17 February in Melbourne will be home crowd favourite and six-time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Cole, along with fellow countryman and multiple Paralympic gold medallist Brendan Hall.
New Zealand’s most-decorated Paralympian Sophie Pascoe will also be in action in the beautiful setting of the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Others to make the trip down under include exciting youngsters Mei Ichinose of Japan, France’s teenage backstroke sensation Ugo Didier and Singapore's reigning Paralympic champion Yip Pin Xiu.
“To host the first meet of the 2019 international World Para Swimming season is a real coup for Melbourne and speaks volumes about the facilities we have in Australia,” said Adam Pine, Swimming Australia’s general manager for Paralympic and Open Water Programmes.
“Attracting high-high-calibre athletes from around the world will provide our swimmers with valuable race experience as they set their sights on the World Para Swimming Championships later this year.”
All the action from Melbourne will be streamed live on World Para Swimming website and Facebook page.