Olympic hopeful Leon Seaton Jr. lands FINA scholarship

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By Akeem Greene

National swimmer Leon Seaton Jr. will spend the next five months in a high-performance programme at Azura Florida Aquatics in a bid to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

The momentous opportunity, in the form of a FINA (International Swimming Federation) Scholarship Programme, is not only a chance to give his best, but also perform at the highest level and most importantly make his country proud.

“This scholarship is a very huge one for me because it allows me to make the qualifying time; I am hoping I make the qualifying time since I am not too far from it and with this scholarship I can improve on my time, make the qualifying time for the Olympics, represent my country at the Olympics and make my country proud,” he related to News Room Sport on the eve of his departure on Saturday.

Seaton Jr. currently has a personal best of 25.15 seconds in the 50M freestyle, his favoured event, but will have to reduce to 22.67s for the B time or ideally 22.01s for the A time.

In the 100M freestyle, his best is 56.00s and it would take a mammoth effort to get down to the B-time of 50.03s or the A-time of 48.57s.

In the event he does not meet those times, he can still attend the Games since only swimming and athletics will have universality (wild card) places at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, while all others will have to qualify.

The 16-year-old St. Rose’s High School Student explained he was shocked to learn he was afforded the opportunity to fulfill his dream.

Seaton Jr. going through his paces in the pool

The FINA Scholarships Programme provides the opportunity to a limited number of athletes to train and prepare for their qualification and participation at the Tokyo Olympic Games and the FINA Swimming World Championships in Abu Dhabi.

“First when I got the news, I was at a moment of shock because I didn’t expect such a great news to come to me at a desperate time as in the COVID season, but after I realised I did the work, I was very much elated to receive the scholarship.”

He added, “The work in the past was not anything easy; I worked morning and afternoon and I put in my 110%. I ensured I was always motivated, I ate correctly and I had time management. This scholarship did not land on my lap, I worked for it.”

The Silver Shark Aquatic swimmer has not been in the pool since March due to the pandemic, but is still very confident he can hit the water with great expediency and be on par with expectations.

“I have been doing my work out of the pool; there are exercises which you can do on land which you imitate what you do in the pool and that is what I have been doing most of the time. I have been building stamina and strength. When I return to the pool in Florida, I don’t think I will be at any disadvantage.”

According to FINA, the coaches have the experience and knowledge of the top techniques and will be ready to receive the athlete in order to start planning his road to the Tokyo Olympic Games and/or the FINA Swimming World Championships in Abu Dhabi.

Last year, Seaton Jr. registered a new Personal Best time at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea.

Seaton Jr., who was the second youngest swimmer at the event, clocked 28.54s in his 50m Butterfly, to erase his previous best of 28.73s. He finished second, but his time was 77th out of a list of 94.

The scholarship will end on April 6, 2021.

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