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The Jordan swim team for the 18th Asian Games, Khader Baqlah (left), Amro Al Wir (centre) and Mohammed Bedour (right) after training at the competition pool. © Julian Linden, OCA

Games News

Jordan's small but talented swim team have big ambitions

Date : 17 Aug 2018

Jakarta, Indonesia, August 17, 2018: Jordan may not have the depth of numbers of many of the other countries competing in swimming at the 18th Asian Games but their impressive improvements in recent years have not gone unnoticed.

Jordan has entered just three swimmers, not even enough for a relay, but they are all highly talented teenagers who have been making a name themselves.

The oldest of the trio is 19-year-old Khader Baqlah, who is already a rising star and making a name for himself.

He competed, along with his sister Tahlia, at the 2016 Rio Olympics and caught the eye of Anthony Nesty, the 1998 Olympic champion from Surinam.

Nesty is now the head coach at the University of Florida and he wanted Baqlah on his team - and let the teenager know.

“He was recruiting people at Rio and he approached me. We just started talking and things went well and so I went over there,” Baqlah said.

The University of Florida is no ordinary swim team. The Gators, as they are known, boast some of the best swimmers in the world so Baqlah suddenly found himself training and swimming alongside the likes of Ryan Lochte and Caeleb Dressel and so his own times naturally got faster.

“It’s such a great experience to swim with fast swimmers like that,” he said.

Baqlah will swim the 100 metres and 200m freestyle at the 18th Asian Games and the Jordan head coach Dr Ali Al-Nawasieh expects him to make the final.

“He’s a very good prospect,” Dr Al-Nawasieh said. “He’s the first swimmer from Jordan to be offered a division one scholarship in the United States and we hope he can finish in the top five but he’s also got some very good competition.”

Jordan’s other two swimmers, Mohammed Bedour and Amro Al Wir, are both just 17 and still training in their homeland. Bedour is a freestyle sprinter while Al Wir is a breaststroke specialist.

Al-Nawasieh is hoping they can make it through to the finals but with age on their side, their best years are still ahead of them and the team.

“We only have a small team but our programme is getting stronger and stronger every year,” said Bedour.

Article: Julian Linden, OCA

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