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Swimming: Belgian hopes in Timmers

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According to the most pessimistic and at the same time realistic scenario only three Belgian swimmers will make it to the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest this July. Qualification time was achieved only by Kimberly Buys, Louis Croenen and Pieter Timmers so far.

The national championships held last weekend in Antwerp were regarded as the official qualifying tournament of Belgium for the World Champs. Those who did not manage to secure their place to the World Champs are left with little hope to participate in the event.

Belgium delegated 11 swimmers two years ago in Kazan, last year they even made it to the podium in Rio. Timmers did an excellent job in the key category of 100m freestyle. He is in extremely good form, qualified in 3 events so he will race in 50, 100 and 200m freestyle in Budapest. However, at international tournaments back in spring he was far from qualifying. By last weekend it was only Louis Croenen (200 m butterfly) and Kimberly Buys (50 m butterfly) who could be sure about their World Champs entry but Timmers has joined them now.

Photo: Pieter Timmers/Facebook

„I did not have any doubts at all. Three out of three qualifications, this is exactly what I had planned for the weekend. My trainings have been quite promising lately, my coach Ronald Gaastra was also convinced that I would qualify. Compared to my usual performance my 100 m event was average, however in 50m I have never been this fast without turning. I do not consider myself a sprinter compared to the real specialists of the event, for me this result was a quite good one.  My result in 200 m is quite good considering that we have not worked much on this event and this time I did not have rivals to boost my performance. I wouldn’t say I put all effort into swimming this time, I have some reserves left so I must admit I was also surprised at my results at the weekend” – said Timmers, who did not rest after the Olympics but continued racing in short course World Cup tournaments and later at the World Championships in Windsor.

This decision of his proved to be right, he swam his personal best in 50 m at 22.22 secs, he swam 48.72 in 100 m and 1:47.10 in 200 m. The only factor which may interfere with his preparation somewhat is the fact that he will become a father soon. His wife is expecting their first baby and he does not know yet whether the arrival of the little one will change his training schedule or not.

„It might actually give me extra motivation, just like in the case of Michael Phelps for instance, but the new situation may be physically demanding for me, depriving me of sleep. I have no clue. That is also why I have not yet decided which event to enter in Budapest from the three. The only thing for sure is that I will stand on the block without any burden on me in the Hungarian capital” – he added when asked about fatherhood, admitting that the 100 m event will be the priority in which he finished seventh the last time (at his fourth World Championships).  

Kimberly Buys did a great job, too, in her hometown, Antwerp. The 28 year-old two-time short course European champion qualified in 50 m butterfly earlier so at the weekend she could stand on the block in 50 and 100 m butterfly without high stakes. In the shorter one she swam her personal best and Belgian record at the same time (actually twice, at the end she swam 25.78 which is the third best time in the world now), in 100 m she swam her personal best, also (57.91) after breaching the Belgian record in 100 m freestyle (by 55.47).

„It was a perfect weekend. I will enter both the 50 and 100 m events in Budapest, in the longer one I hope to make it at least to the semi-finals but I would be delighted to swim in the finals, of course. It is somewhat strange that we will be only three who represent our country at the World Champs, but I think the qualification times were rather strict. Lately I have been training for shorter courses but I have put a lot of effort into improving my dynamics, not to mention more intensive exercises and work-out on the ground” – said Buys.

The big surprise of the Belgian championships was Valentine Dumont, who claimed five champion titles (200, 400, 800 and 1500 m freestyle and 200 m butterfly) at the weekend, but currently the 16 year-old (!) swimmer is preparing for the European Junior Championships in Israel and the following World Championships in Indianapolis.

During their meeting on Tuesday the Belgian Federation decided not to delegate a relay team this time, therefore the roster shows the final squad of swimmers.

Belgian contenders at the 17th FINA World Championships:

Pieter Timmers (50 m, 100 m, 200 m freestyle)
Louis Croenen (100 m, 200 m butterfly)
Kimberley Buys (50 m, 100 m butterfly)