Egypt’s Marwan El Kamash ready to take on the giants

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On the rise: El Kamash beat Phelps and Lochte in a meet in Charlotte in March.

Egypt’s Marwan El Kamash will rub shoulders with swimming royalty in the pool Monday as he contests the same heat as world and Olympic champion Sun Yang in the 200m freestyle at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

El Kamash, 21, was one of four Egyptians to impress in the pool on opening day yesterday and he’s looking to do better in the 200 free, an event in which he took bronze at the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Charlotte in March, when he beat the likes of Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.

“It will be a good one,” El Kamash told Sport360. 

“The 200 freestyle is my strongest event after the 400. And I think I’m capable of making the semis tomorrow (Tuesday) insha’Allah. I just need to race my own race and not get distracted by other swimmers.”

On day one yesterday in Kazan, El Kamash and his University of South Carolina team-mate Ahmed Akram both clocked personal best times to finish inside the top 16 in an incredibly strong 400m freestyle field.

Akram, 19, smashed the Egyptian national record with a 3:48.07 swim while El Kamash was close behind with a 3:48.15 to place 15 and 16. 

“The first race is always an ind-ication on how your swim meet is going to be like, so for me going more than two seconds faster than my personal best, I think is a great way to start,” said the Alexandria native.

“It was even more special to make top 16 with my team-mate on both the national and college teams.”

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El Kamash’s brother, Youssef, also set a national record, clocking 1:02.01 in 100m breaststroke. 

Their team-mate Farida Osman came agonisingly close to making the 100m butterfly semi-final. The former world junior champion had to contest a swim-off with Great Britain’s Rachael Kelly after the pair had both swum a matching 58.48 seconds in the morning preliminaries to share 16th place. 

Osman was leading in the swim-off but was pegged back in the  final metres to finish 0.05 seconds behind Kelly.

“I feel exhausted mentally and physically,” he said on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, UAE veteran  Mubarak Al Besher made a disappointing start to his campaign clocking a dismal 1:09.08 in the 100m breaststroke, a time that is over six seconds slower than his qualifying time for the meet. 

His countryman Yaaqoub Al Saadi will feature in the 100m backstroke while Alia Al Shamsi and Nada Al Bedwawi will make history when they become the first female swimmers to represent the UAE at a World Championships, the fomer lining up for the 100m breaststroke, and the latter for the 100m back.

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