With dreams of Olympic qualification and a newfound ideal training environment, these swimmers show what the power of opportunity and hard work can mean in the world of competitive swimming.

Togo Swimmer Magnim Jordano Daou Impoves Rapidly at Thanyapura

Image Source: Mike Lewis/World Aquatics

Nineteen-year-old Magnim Jordano Daou, hailing from Togo, recently made waves at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan with his debut on the long course international swimming stage. Transitioning from a junior competitor to the senior ranks Daou took on the fierce competition in the 50m Freestyle and 50m Butterfly events.

Daou's journey to success began with a remarkable splash, as he enthusiastically shared his post-race thoughts with the World Aquatics.

"The race was so good because my personal best was 31.54, and I went 28.26! I'm very proud of myself!" he exclaimed. It was evident that Daou's hard work and dedication had paid off, especially when compared to his performance at the short course world championships in Melbourne the previous year, where he clocked slower than his result in Fukuoka.

Aiding Daou's fast improvement - over three seconds in the 50m event  - in such a short span of time lies in his journey from his home country, Togo, to the global stage. Supported by a World Aquatics Scholarship, he relocated to the Thanyapura Training Centre - one of the training facilities World Aquatics cooperates with. Just two months prior to the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Daou made the move and began training in this vibrant international environment.

World Aquatics has been awarding scholarships to promising young athletes since 2014. The Thanyapura Sports & Health Resort in Phuket has been a World Aquatics training centre since 2015, and has attracted swimmers from a host of countries to train as a united team under the experienced guidance of coach Alexander Tikhonov. For the 2023/2024 scholarship year that started on 1 September, athletes from 34 countries are currently training here, making Thanyapura the training centre with the largest current athlete group in the World Aquatics Scholarship programme. 

Daou shed light on the challenges of his training environment back in Togo, where there was no dedicated competition pool. He emphasised the value of the scholarship programme, stating, "The scholarship programme helped me very, very much. I've been training at Thanyapura for two months. The environment is excellent, and it's great that they provide advice and push me forward."

New Training Environment Empowering Guinean Swimmer Elhadj N'Gnane Diallo

Magnim Jordano Daou is not the only beneficiary of the World Aquatics Scholarship program at the Thanyapura Training Centre. Elhadj N'Gnane Diallo from Guinea joined the squad in February 2023. Since then, Diallo has also significantly improved his skills and performance. Noting the transformation he has undergone, Diallo said: "Before getting a scholarship, I wasn’t satisfied with my swimming, but now I'm faster than before and I have learned a lot of techniques. It’s getting better."

Prior to his participation in the programme, Diallo faced less-than-ideal training conditions. Describing the challenges of training in his home country of Guinea, where he had to share lanes with public pool users and could only train three-to-four times a week, Diallo expressed gratitude for the programme and praised the training environment in Thanyapura.

Training environments vary country to country and are not equally accessible to everyone, especially in countries just starting to establish themselves in international swimming. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to provide opportunities for talented athletes to foster diversity and greater accessibility within the sport.

Both Daou and Diallo now have fresh mindsets and new ambitious goals. Having shaved off an impressive three seconds in Fukuoka, Daou's sights are firmly set on reaching new heights in the world of swimming. "Now I can say that I aim to drop my time even further, aiming for between 22 to 23 seconds in the years to come.” he said. Meanwhile, Diallo’s new target is crystal clear, stating: "My next goal is to qualify for the Olympics. My next goal is the Olympics.”

With the support of an ideal training environment and unwavering determination, these young swimmers are destined for greatness, serving as inspiring examples of what can be achieved when talent meets opportunity.

About the World Aquatics Scholarship Programme

Image Source: Gilad Kavalerchik/World Aquatics

Launched in 2014 with the aim of increasing the level of aquatics athletes in countries around the globe, the World Aquatics Scholarship Programme has just announced the scholarship recipient athletes for its tenth season. The main goal of the World Aquatics Scholarships Programme is to identify and create an optimal training environment for athletes aspiring to represent their countries at the next World Aquatics Championships and the Olympic Games. The programme aims to support athletes with greater needs and help them reach their full potential.