More than 1,000 children aged between seven and 11, from 25 different schools, flocked to the state-of-the-art Hamdan Sports Complex as they aimed to end the long season on a high.
During the three previous meets, the standard of the tournament was already high and it proved to be no different in the finale.
Among those who made a big splash in the pool were Jumeirah English Speaking School’s Sam Deveney-Douglas and Dubai English Speaking School’s (DESS) Isobel Bryant. Deveney-Douglas triumphed in the 50m backstroke Year Six contest in 34.08 seconds, while Bryant clocked 1min, 17s in the 100m individual medley in the same age group.
Kings Dubai also had a day to remember with three of their swimmers achieving personal bests. Janya Shah topped the Year Five, 25m butterfly category in 18.30s, while Raphael Sibuet finished runner-up in the individual medley with 1m 29s.
Year Six captain Iman Humphrey led by example, finishing second in the 50m freestyle in an impressive time of 34.67 seconds.
After some thrilling duels, it was DESS who were celebrating as they took home the Division ‘A’ league title ahead of JESS.
Kings, Horizon, Victory Heights, Nord Anglia and Kings Al Barsha were also crowned champions in their respective divisions.
Tournament organiser Jessica Lambson was impressed with the talent. “It was great to see the children do incredibly well after swimming hard all year. I was very proud watching the children trying their best for their schools,” she said.
The Dubai duo of Al Zaffain and Bin Hendi had earlier triumphed in the season-opening event in Fujairah, followed by a win on home water.
Yesterday, they made it three wins in three starts, despite starting fourth from the grid. They made a clear start and maintained the lead throughout the race, reaching speeds of up to 160kmph on a consistent basis.
The pole-sitting Gold Coast Australia made a poor start and after the teams completed two long laps, Victory took firm control of the first place, with Abu Dhabi Team in second. Gold Coast had slipped to third place, and later fell further to seventh place at one stage.
After both Victory Team and Abu Dhabi Team completed their final long lap, Gold Coast Australia made a fantastic surge and came out of nowhere to pass Rashed Suhail Al Tayer and Faleh Khalfan Al Mansoori of Abu Dhabi Team to clinch the runners-up place.
It was a magnificent lap from Tom Barry Cotter and Ross Willaton of Australia, making up the gap with Abu Dhabi and finishing only six seconds behind the leaders.
Series-leading Victory Team crew of Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi qualified just behind them.
However, the pole honours went to the Gold Coast Australia crew of Tom-Barry Cotter and Ross Willaton, with Lady Spain’s Jay Price and Joakhim Kumlin a fine second.
After a pair of back-to-back races in the UAE in the spring, both won by the Dubai-based Victory Team, the calmer waters of Lake Lugano were a welcome change for the field of 14 boats that lined up for qualifying.
And Team Abu Dhabi were eager to improve, knowing the importance of achieving at least a podium finish in Lugano after dropping points to their leading challengers in Fujairah and Dubai.
“Third in the pole position is an excellent result for Faleh and Rashed and puts us in a perfect position to challenge for the victory tomorrow afternoon,” said Salem Al-Romeithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
“It would have been nice to claim pole, but the competition is tough and we will, at least, start ahead of the boat that leads the XCAT World Series.”
All 14 boats took part in Thursday afternoon’s practice session and Victory Team’s Arif Saif Al-Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi set the fastest lap of 2min 25.480sec after completing 11 laps of the challenging Lake Lugano course.
Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark were second with a lap of 2min 25.933sec and Team Abu Dhabi 5’s Al-Mansoori and Al-Tayer ran for 10 laps and posted the fifth quickest time of 2min 27.066sec.
The inaugural Lugano Grand Prix take centre stage at 5.30pm GST Sunday.