Barlaam celebrates World Series' return to 'magical' Lignano

Paralympic stars in limelight as season’s second leg of World series set to witness 292 athletes from 43 nations over four days of action 08 Mar 2023
Italian Paralympic star Simone Barlaam will lead the local challenge that will have a 65-strong team at the second leg of Citi Para Swimming World Series.
Italian Paralympic star Simone Barlaam will lead the local challenge that will have a 65-strong team making their debut in the 2023 World Series season.
ⒸOctavio Passos/ Getty Images
By Victor Pereira | For World Para Swimming

Lignano Sabbiadoro, the bustling town and commune in north-eastern Italy, is set to welcome 292 athletes from 43 nations for the second leg of the Citi Para Swimming World Series at the Bella Italia Village from 9 to 12 March.

Hosts Italy will be among the biggest delegations having 65 swimmers, led by Paralympic champion and multi-medallist Simone Barlaam. Italy will make their debut in the 2023 World Series season after two successful World Championships campaigns – they topped the medals table in London 2019 and Madeira 2022.

“It’s very important to compete at home. First, it’s nice because you can get all your family and friends to come and see you,” emphasised Barlaam who will be in action in the 50m, 100m, 200m, and 400m freestyle races in addition to 50m and 100m backstroke and butterfly.

“There’s something magical about Lignano that I can’t explain. Maybe the people, the welcoming staff, or the activities outside of the pool. I remember once we had someone singing in front of a bar and on the day before the competition, all the athletes were just chilling there which is great,” remembered Barlaam.

The 22-year-old from Milan felt that the venue in the centre of Europe favours the arrival of hundredths of athletes from all over the world promising a high level at the competition and experience, especially for the young swimmers.

“They (The young swimmers) will experience such an amazing international gathering and it’s very important for them. I remember that as a young athlete, I went to Berlin and seeing so many great athletes motivated me so much. For them, having this experience very close to home is awesome”, said the local star.

The host nation’s 65-strong team also include Paralympic and World champions such as Francesco Bocciardo, Stefano Raimondi, Federico Morlacchi, Giulia Ghiretti, Xenia Palazzo, Alessia Scortechini and Vittoria Bianco.

Hermanos’ presence

In the Lignano World Series last year, Brazil had the biggest number of athletes among the visitors only to finish the competition leading the medals table. This year, the Brazilian nation will be represented by eight swimmers including Paralympic champions Gabriel dos Santos Araujo, Gabriel Bandeira and Maria Carolina Gomes Santiago.

However, Argentina will be largest visiting delegation with 19 athletes including names like Inaki Basiloff and Nadia Baez, the gold and silver medallists at Madeira 2022.

Other countries in the entry list include Canada, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Ukraine, USA, and Uzbekistan among others. 

Second stop

Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy is the second city to host the Citi Para Swimming World Series this season, after the opener leg in Melbourne, Australia in February.

By November, seven other cities across the globe will welcome the competition. This month, Sheffield in Great Britain will also host the competition followed by Indianapolis, USA and Singapore in April.

Germany and France will host the series in May before Mexico welcomes the World Series in October with the final stop still to be confirmed.

Athletes take part in multi-class races and their results in each series are calculated using a standardised World Para Swimming points system. At the end of a World Series’ season, the best female and male swimmers are awarded based on their rankings. Last year, Colombia’s Carlos Serrano and Germany’s Tanja Scholz were the winners of the top male and female categories.