Hot start to Shanxi provincial games: Swimming takes center stage
Swimmers compete for medals during the 16th Games of Shanxi Province in Datong. [Photo/Shanxi Daily]
Aug 9, the first day of competition after the opening ceremony of the 16th Games of Shanxi Province, saw fierce competition in the pool at Datong Sports Center in Datong city.
The swimming competition, which lasts for five days, is divided into groups based on gender and age. It includes individual events and relays in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly, as well as mixed relays. The competition takes place in the mornings and evenings, with preliminary rounds followed by the finals.
On the evening of Aug 9, the venue was packed to capacity with nearly 3,000 spectators witnessing the winning of medals.
A swimmer braves the waves in the swimming competition of the 16th Games of Shanxi Province in Datong. [Photo/Shanxi Daily]
Why is swimming so popular? According to Li Jintao, deputy principal of Datong Youth and Children's Sports School, it is not only fun and great for fitness, but also a survival skill. The estimated number of swimmers in Datong is now around 5,000, and the sports school selects talented individuals from among these young swimmers to administer them professional training.
Wang Qi, head of the Taiyuan swimming team, said youth swimming competitions organized by local clubs in Taiyuan often attract up to 600 people to participate.
This strong foundation for mass sports reflects the status of the sport in the provincial games. There are 78 gold medals available for swimmers at this year's Games. Taiyuan sent 121 swimmers to compete, ranking first among all teams. Datong sent 43.
The Taiyuan team won three gold medals and the Jincheng team bagged one on Aug 9, while host city Datong pocketed one bronze.