CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-Harvard women's swimmers Alicia Lightbourne and Kelly Robinson will swim in the 13th Fédération Internationale de Natation World Championships, which begin Friday in Rome.
A record 2,556 athletes from 185 countries will be competing in the World Championships, which feature competition in swimming, diving, open-water swimming, synchronized swimming and water polo. The biannual event is the world's top swimming competition in non-Olympic years. Competition runs through Aug. 2. Harvard men's swimmer Alex Meyer will compete for the United States in open-water swimming.
Lightbourne is a rising sophomore who helped the Crimson win Ivy League and ECAC titles as a rookie last season. A native of Nassau, Bahamas, she will represent her country in the 50- and 100-meter breaststrokes as well as the 400 freestyle and 400 medley relays. This will be the highest level of competition to date for Lightbourne, who swam in the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio De Janiero.
"I'm incredibly nervous and excited to compete," says Lightbourne. "Although I undoubtedly hope and expect to hit best times, no matter what happens I know it will be an amazing experience."
Robinson, an incoming freshman, will represent Hong Kong at the World Championships, swimming the 50 and 100 butterflies. Although she is a U.S. citizen, Robinson is a permanent Hong Kong resident and has been swimming internationally for that nation since middle school.
"I'm really excited for the opportunity to compete at the World Championships," Robinson says. "It's basically the perfect end to my high school swim season and a great lead into my college swim career. I'm not really nervous at all; I think it's going to be great fun. I can't wait to see the world's best swimmers race."
Swimming competition at the World Championships begins Sunday, July 26, and the women's 100 fly is the first event. The event semifinals will be that evening, and the final is the following evening. Robinson's other event, the 50 fly, is July 31-Aug. 1. She is training with her club team in Hong Kong and will leave for Rome with seven other swimmers July 23.
Lightbourne will also compete on the first day of the swimming competition, in the 400 free relay. The 100 breast is July 27-28, and the 50 breast is Aug. 1-2. The 400 medley relay will also be held Aug. 1. Lightbourne will leave Nassau Friday and arrive in Rome Saturday.
Photo courtesy DSPics.com