The FINA Short Course World Swimming Championship held in Windsor, Canada turned out to be a successful stint for the two swimmers who represented Sri Lanka as both Kimiko Raheem and Kyle Abeysinghe went on to renew Sri Lankan records and finished all their events with Personal Bests.

Kyle Abeysinghe and Kimiko Raheem for World Swimming Championships

The FINA Short Course World Swimming Championship is more or less swimming’s World Cup which sees the active participation of top swimmers from around the world. Sri Lanka’s top swimmer Matthew Abeysinghe was side-lined this year due to an injury which also ruled him out of the Senior Nationals. Abeysinghe Snr.’s absence saw the baton passed to his younger sibling Kyle to take the nation’s prospects forward.

Kyle Abeysinghe
Kyle Abeysinghe won the best swimmer award at the SAAC 2016

Stepping into his brother’s shoes would have been a tough task for the 16-year-old representing Sri Lanka in his maiden World Championship but Kyle came out on top to get on the record books from his very first race itself.

Swimming the 200m Individual Medley, Kyle clocked in at 2:04.17 minutes renewing the national record set by Heshan Unamboowe in the short course category. Swimming in an outer lane, Kyle’s timing put him in 46th place out of the 67 swimmers who swam the heats.

FINA World Swimming – Kyle Abeysinghe claims maiden national record

Continuing his success, Kyle made it 2/2 in the record books as he finished the 200m Freestyle with another national record. The previous 200m freestyle record in short course was 1:51.36 minutes set by Matthew Abeysinghe and Kyle bettered it by just over a second, finishing the race in 1:50.15. His timing earned him the 58th spot out of the 106 swimmers.

FINA Swimming Championships: Kyle secures 2nd national record

It was a moral victory for Kyle when he won the 6th heat in the Men’s 50m Freestyle as hefinished the race with a time of 23.23 seconds. Despite not setting a record, it was one of the best timings in the event for the 16-year-old and he was ranked 62nd out of the 138 participants.

Swimming the 100m Freestyle to conclude his world championship run, Kyle registered a personal best, finishing the race in 50.23 seconds placing himself 69th out of the 145 swimmers.

Kyle Abeysinghe
Kyle Abeysinghe became the best swimmer Senior Nationals 2016

The Sri Lankan Olympian Kimiko Raheem swam six events in the championship and concluded her stint with personal best timings for the season. The youngest of the Raheem sisters, Kimiko was adjudged the best swimmer in the South Asian Games earlier this year and then went on to represent the country at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Read about Kimiko’s Olympic heist

Kimiko Raheem was the top swimmer in the SAAC 2016
Kimiko Raheem was the top swimmer in the SAAC 2016

This was Kimiko’s second World Championships as she represented the country in the 2015 edition held in Kazan. Swimming her first event in the 200m Freestyle, she finished the race with a timing of 2:05.97. Her timing got her the 51st position out of the 84 swimmers in the event.

In the 50m Freestyle, her timing of 26.61 saw her finishing the race with her personal best timing for the season.  

Watch Kimiko’s 50m Freestyle race

The 100m Freestyle saw Kimiko finishing 61st in the event out of the 127 participants with a timing of 57.42 seconds. Her timing renewed the national record time in the Women’s Short Course category.

The highlight, however, was her 50m Backstroke event where she clocked in at 28.89 making it under the 29 second barrier for the first time. This timing renewed Kimiko’s previous record and she followed up her success with the 100m Backstroke, finishing the event in 1:02.70 minutes.

After a successful twelve months of action starting from early January with the South Asian Games following up to the Rio Olympics and later to the South Asian Aquatic Championship, Kimiko has had a successful season this year.

This year has also seen the emergence of a new prodigy as the young Kyle Abeysinghe has made his entrance to the center stage. From the South Asian Games to later dominating the South Asian Aquatic Championship and being adjudged the best swimmer to finally being the best swimmer in the Senior Nationals, Kyle has been in phenomenal form this year.

With the FINA Short Course Swimming Championship concluding the swimming action for the year, Sri Lanka will lay their focus on next year’s Age Group Championships as they look to follow up this year’s success.

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