While it’s been four years since we’ve seen the FINA World Junior Open Water Championships, the island nation had to wait two turns around the sun due to COVID-induced delays to host the fourth edition of this event. With that, expect plenty of new names to emerge.

Competition Course at Beau Vallon | What it’s Like

Image Source: Seychelles Tourism

The three days of competition will take place on the beach of Beau Vallon. In a country dotted with beaches, the bay of Beau Vallon is the most frequented (and probably best known) on the island of Mahe, thanks to its shallow waters that deepen slowly with a soft, sandy bottom and active sea life. 

Image Source: Seychelles Tourism

Racers can expect normal tides and some waves, as the 2.5km loop in a bay provides a measure of protection from wind-chopped waters. There’s a consistent breeze and intermittent rain clouds on the weather radar for the race days.

Race Days | What’s Coming – And When

The competition kicks off Friday morning at 8 am Seychelles time (GMT+4) with the 5km for the 14-15 age group category, followed at 10 am by the 7.5km for the 16–17-year-olds.

Saturday brings the big distance event of the extended race weekend, with the 10km for the 18- and 19-year-olds. Men start at 8 am, with the women’s competition following 15 minutes after.

Sunday is all about all-around team performance with the relays. Athletes aged 14-16 kick off the day’s competition with a Mixed 4x1500m Relay at 8 am. The event’s capstone event will be the open age-group category where anyone from 14-19 can compete in their nation’s colours in another Mixed 4x1500m Relay.

Two Top Title Contenders

Image Source: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Two of the headlining athletes in Seychelles have to be USA’s Katie Grimes and Hungary’s David Betlehem.

Sixteen-year-old Grimes comes in as a double silver medallist in the pool at the 19th FINA World Championships earlier this summer. In open water, she was right in the medal mix as well, having placed eighth to open the FINA Marathon Swim World Series season in Setubal in May and then finishing fifth in the 10km at the world championships in Budapest.

Image Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

And it's not just Grimes; the Americans look pretty stacked throughout the open water junior ranks. Look for fellow 19th FINA World Championships Team USA competitors Summer Smith and Anna Auld to be among those figuring their way onto the medal podium at Beau Vallon. 

Image Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

David Betlehem is another junior age-grouper having already arrived on the international senior stage, proving his place by winning multiple medals in 2022. A medallist in both the Setubal and FINA World Championships’ Mixed 4x1500m Relay, the nineteen-year-old from Hungary also has, progressively, a fifth, fourth and third in the FINA World Championships, Paris and Lac Megantic legs of the FINA Marathon Swim World Series 10km events in his last three starts.

Image Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Other Names to Watch | Men

Pasquale Giordano - Italy

Emir Batur AlbayrakTurkey

Linus Schwedler – Germany

Connor BuckSouth Africa

Other Names to Watch | Women

Image Source: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Madelon CatteauFrance

Clemence CoccordanoFrance

Summer Smith – United States

Anna Auld United States

Finella Gibbs-Beal – Australia

Live Timing

Follow the action with live splits and timing here.

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Friday | 5 km

Friday | 7.5 km