More than 100 competitors from 20 countries are set to take part in the latest leg of the World Para Swimming World Series in Lewisville in the United States at an event scheduled to start tomorrow.
For many athletes it will be their first international competition for more than a year.
They were due to take part in the World Series in Indianapolis last year before it was cancelled following the outbreak of COVID-19.
Strict Protocols will be in place at the LISD Westside Aquatic Center in the city in Texas, which hosts the World Series for the first time, and there will be no spectators at the competition scheduled to last until Sunday (April 18).
“My last international competition was the World Series meet last February  in Melbourne, and I feel a little naïve when I look back at that time,” the United States Paralympic silver medallist Lizzie Smith said.
“I left the meet feeling disappointed that I didn’t swim the times I was hoping for.
“Going into the Lewisville World Series, competing has a different meaning to me, I’m feeling very fortunate to get to do my craft and race again.”
There will be a total of 116 athletes taking part in the competition at the in the second event in this series following last weekend’s competition in Sheffield in the United Kingdom.
The home team will be led by 13-time Paralympic champion Jessica Long and three-time Paralympic gold medallist McKenzie Coan, as well as Paralympic and world champion Rebecca Meyers and world champion Lawrence Sapp.
Australian Paralympic gold medallist Timothy Diskin, Mexico’s world champion Arnulfo Castorena and Parapan Am Games silver medallist Alejandra Aybar from the Dominican Republic are among the international swimmers.
The event will be an historic one for Grenada, which makes its international Para swimming debut.
Nye Cruickshank will be the first athlete from the Caribbean island to compete in the sport on the world’s stage.
The S10 swimmer is due to race in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and individual medley.
Barbados and Paraguay are other two nations making their World Series debut.
Barbadian swimmer Antwahn Boyce-Vaughan is set to compete in three races, while Paraguayan Rodrigo Hermosa, who competed at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, will be in action in the men’s 50 metres freestyle S9.
Afghan-born Mohammad Abas Karimi will also compete as part of his bid to get into the Refugee Para Athletes Team for Tokyo.
He made history at the 2017 World Championships in Mexico City when he became the first refugee to win a medal at a major Para swimming event.
He won silver in the men’s 50m butterfly S5.
In 2018 the swimmer also won gold at the World Series in Indianapolis.
Mexico will send the biggest team to the event, with 33 athletes, followed by US with 30 and Australia 14.
Among the other international teams are Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Philippines, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.
“We are so excited to welcome many of the world's best swimmers to Lewisville,” 14-time USA Paralympic champion Erin Popovich, who is now associate director of sports operations for US Para Swimming, said.
“It has been an incredible team effort, but we have worked hard to ensure a safe and competitive environment for the athletes by implementing COVID-19 protocols.
“When this event was cancelled due to the pandemic a year ago, we knew we wanted this year to be as positive an experience as possible for everyone involved, and I think we're well on our way to accomplishing that.”