Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström is a sprint butterfly and freestyle specialist who became the country’s first female swimming Olympic gold medallist in Rio 2016. She won the 100m butterfly in a world record time of 55.48 seconds. The 23 year old also won Olympic silver and bronze in the 200m and 100m freestyle, respectively, adding to her already strong medal collection from European and World Championships, both long and short course.
Her major breakthrough came at the 2008 European Championships in Berlin. Sjöström won her first international gold medal in the 100m butterfly, when she was only 14 years old, and at the same time broke the Swedish National Record which had previously been owned by Inge de Brujin for 9 years.
At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Sjöström became Olympic Champion in the 100m butterfly breaking the world record time that she had set earlier that week in the semi-finals. Her new world record time of 55.48 was almost a whole second faster than her competitor Penny Oleksiak of Canada who took the silver medal in 56.46, closely followed by USA’s Dana Vollmer in bronze medal position.
Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Swimming Festival Sarah said, “I am thrilled to be the international ambassador for this established mass participation swimming event. It is great to see people of all ages in Abu Dhabi being encouraged to take part in a sport I love and I hope we will see over 1000 people at Emirates Palace on March 11.”
Nada Al Bedwawi
Nada Al-Bedwawi, the first female Olympic swimmer to represent UAE, proudly led the country out at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The 19-year-old NYU Abu Dhabi student took part in her first major meet at Russia in 2015 before being selected as a wildcard entry for the 50 metre freestyle event in Brazil. Nada made history in 2015 when she became one of the first two Emirati females to compete at a World Aquatics Championships. And now, having been the pioneer for female Emirati swimmers at the Olympics, Nada hopes others will be able to join her at the next Games, in Tokyo in four years’ time.
Nada plans to use her appearance in Rio to change the image of sport in the UAE. With only two swimmers competing in the 2016 Olympics, Nada wants to break down cultural barriers and pave the way for future Emirati swimmers.
Having been inspired by competing alongside the best swimmers in the world, Nada is now focusing on intense training for the 2020 Olympics while studying Biology and Maths at New York University in Abu Dhabi.
Al Jasmi Brothers
In 2010, the Al Jasmi brothers, Obaid, Saeed, Bakheet and Faisal, were the first team of brothers to compete at a Swimming World Championships. They represented the UAE in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay on the opening day of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai. As a result they gained entry into the Guinness Book of World Records as the first set of brothers to compete together as a foursome in the Short Course Worlds.
Obaid is a two-time Olympic swimmer, representing the United Arab Emirates at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. In addition to the Olympics, he has also represented the UAE in the following swimming Championships:
- World Championships: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011
- Asian Games: 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010
- Short Course Worlds: 2000, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2012
- Arab Games: 1997, 2003, 2007, 2012