Tiny 10-year-old Alzain Tareq grinned from ear-to-ear on Saturday as the world championships’ youngest competitor in Kazan swam her personal best to finish third in her 50m freestyle heat.

The Bahrain schoolgirl had caused a splash at the Kazan pool on Friday morning when she raced in the women’s 50m butterfly heats and finished last of the event’s 64 competitors.

She is believed to be the youngest swimmer to have ever swum at a world championships.

She was back in the pool on Saturday to finish third in her 50 freestyle heat and was 105th overall of the event’s 113 racers with a new PB of 35.78 seconds — nearly three seconds faster than her qualifying time.

She was more than 11 seconds slower than Cate Campbell of Australia’s fastest qualifying time.

But the pint-sized Bahraini is just happy to have met her idols like Missy Franklin of the USA and Sweden’s butterfly world champion Sarah Sjostrom having now swum both of her events in Kazan.

“I didn’t get the time I wanted, but I still beat my personal best, so I am happy,” beamed Tareq. 

She was clearly proud of jher newly-acquired bright pink race suit and said a highlight of her Kazan trip had been warming down in the same lane as Franklin on Friday.

Her presence here has sparked plenty of attention from fellow competitors and the media.

“A few other swimmers spoke to me after my race yesterday, they were taking pictures and wishing me good luck,” she said.

Tareq was delighted to have met Franklin, Sjostrom, plus Australian sisters Bronte and Cate Campbell who took gold and bronze respectively in Friday night’s 100m freestyle final.

“I have their pictures in my phone, but when I get home I am going to print them all out, so I have them,” Tareq said.

“It’s a great feeling to have swum here.

“It was a lot of fun meeting Sarah.

“My mum isn’t here, only my Dad, he wanted me to beat my own time and I did that, so he’s happy.”

It is unlikely Tareq will fulfil her wish to swim at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, even though there are no age restrictions to competing at either a world championships or an Olympics.

She qualified for Kazan as the Bahrain’s fastest female swimmer.

But to swim in Rio she will need to lower her 50m freestyle personal best of 35.78 to meet the Olympic’s minimum qualifying time of 26.17secs to race in her strongest event. – Agence France-Presse

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