With the region boasting multiple Paralympic and world champions, the Asian Para Games is expected to witness high-quality performances in the swimming pool with regional and possibly world records on the cards.
A total of 275 athletes from 29 countries will be ready to set the Gelora Bung Karno Aquatic Centre pools ablaze when the competition kicks off on 7 October, running over six days in Jakarta, Indonesia.
China will be keen to continue their domination of the water and this time, the presence of Paralympic champions Cheng Jiao (S4), Ke Lifting (S7), Zhang Xiatong (S11), Xu Jialing (S9), Feng Yazhu (S2), Peng Quiping (S3) and world champion Song Lingling (S6) should be enough to put them ahead of others on the leaderboard.
Some old rivalries are also expected to resume with the likes of Kazakhstan’s Paralympic champion Zulfiya Gabidullina challenging Quiping, the world record holder, in S3 events, while Lingling should fight it out with Asian medallist Thi Bich Nhu Trinh from Vietnam in the S6 class.
Singapore will look to their first Paralympic gold medallist Yip Pin Xiu to show her magic in the pool once again. She is a multi-Paralympic champion with a world record effort in the women’s 100m backstroke S2. Yip will also have the company of Rio 2016 medallist Theresa Goh (S5) in the Singapore team.
The presence of Uzbekistan’s Fotimakhon Amilova, the world record holder in 100m breaststroke SB14, and Paralympic medallist Shokhsanamkhon Toshpulatova should make the S13 competition even more exciting.
The hosts, who will field 28 swimmers, will target a podium finish through Asian record holder Marinus Yowei (S13) and Tangkilisan Sualang (S10).
Fierce competition is expected between China and South Korea, with swimmers from Japan, Hong Kong and Uzbekistan also looking to have a big impact. For China, all eyes will be on multiple record holders Yang Yang and Zhao Liankang (S2), Li Junsheng (S5), Huang Xianquan and world champion Xu Haijiao, who will be expected to take the top positions in the S8 events.
South Korea will have Paralympic champions Jo Gi-seong (S4), Woo Lim Geum (SB5) alongside Rio 2016 gold medallist Lee In-kook and Asian record holder Wonsang Cho in S14 events, which is presumed be one of the keenly-contested categories with the likes of Hong Kong’s Tai Wai Lok, Incheon 2014 gold medallist, and former world record holder Yasuhiro Tanaka and Rio Paralympic medallist Nakajima Keichi all gunning for top positions in S14.
Japan will also have their multiple world champion Kimura Keiichi to bring home glory in S11 events alongside the likes of Kyosuke Oyama (S7), and Yamada Takuro (S9), making them a really strong team.
Uzbekistan will have a strong presence in the pool this time around through their rising star Pankov Kirill, who broke multiple Asian and Games records en route to winning four golds at Incheon 2014, and Musabekov Firdavsbek, who look set to win medals in S13 events.
The second most successful male swimmer at Incheon 2014, Thang Tung Vo of Vietnam, will be the favourite in the S5 class. Kazakhstan will put their hopes on Games and Asian record holders Anuar Akhmetov and Andrey Afanasyev to battle it out for the S12 medals.
Para swimming, which was introduced at the 1960 Rome Paralympics with 62 events over distances of 25m and 50m, is now one of the largest Paralympic sports in terms of the number of events, competitors, and spectators. The sport has been part of all three editions of the Asian Para Games.