Athletes took time out of their busy FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) 2021 schedules last week to engage with a number of local community initiatives on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. Italy’s Olympic medalist and World Record holder Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA), who led his team to victory in the debut of the FINA Open Water Mixed Team Relay, joined young swimmers from local swim club, Soul Sports, for a beach clean-up at Al Bahia Beach.
The 27-year-old, passionate about protecting the environment, was accompanied by the 15th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) mascot, Dana the Hawksbill Turtle, one of two endangered species of turtle that the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi works hard to rehabilitate back into their natural habitat.
“We should give more than we take from the environment. And this is a beautiful place, Abu Dhabi, but sometimes it is ruined by plastics or something on the beach,” said Paltrinieri.
“While I am swimming, I feel part of nature. So when I am swimming and I see beautiful places ruined, I feel like it is our mission to do something and help preserve the natural environment.”
Meanwhile, former swimmer Anthony Ervin (USA) joined Florian Wellbrock (GER), who won the final leg of the FINA/CNGS Marathon Swim World Series and set a new world record in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle in Abu Dhabi, ran a training clinic at the iconic Etihad Arena with young aspiring swimmers.
“The nice thing about pursuing this Olympic or swimming journey at such a high level is that you can focus on yourself. I’ve had a lot of that now and I feel like it’s time to give back to those who helped me, so that is why I’m giving back to the kids,” said Ervin.
“This is where everything started so this is going to be the future and it’s important to show them how we do it. The kids here today are as young as six - I started my swimming journey around the same time and some have asked me about being an Olympic champion, so it’s a crazy feeling,” said Wellbrock.
Hats off to all the athletes for leaving a sustainable lasting legacy in the local community during a spectacular FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) 2021 in Abu Dhabi.