Dana, a hawksbill turtle, was revealed as the official mascot ©FINA

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has expressed confidence in preparations for the World Swimming Championships 25 metres in Abu Dhabi.

The World Championships are scheduled to take place at Etihad Arena from December 16 to 21, with the venue located on Yas Island.

The event will be held alongside the FINA World Aquatics Convention.

Organisers unveiled Dana the hawksbill turtle as the official mascot for the World Championships at a press conference.

The hawksbill turtle was chosen due to being strong swimmers displaying grace and power while underwater, with the endangered animal also being native to Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island.

FINA also confirmed teenage swimmers Youssef Al Matrooshi and Layla Al Khatib have been awarded wildcards for the event.

The swimmers, aged 18 and 15 respectively, will represent hosts United Arab Emirates.

Al Matrooshi will also represent the country in the 100m freestyle at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

"We have great faith and trust in Abu Dhabi’s plans for hosting the FINA World Swimming Championships 25m later this year, and the announcement of the operational readiness, Emirati wildcard athletes and the official event mascot only adds to the sense of anticipation ahead of the event," said Husain Al-Musallam, FINA President.

"Abu Dhabi has proved its long-term support and success in hosting major international events, and it will surely organise the FINA World Swimming Championships 25m with success.

"As recently elected FINA President, I’m very much looking forward to bringing the FINA World Swimming Championships 25m to Abu Dhabi for the first time, particularly during a year in which the country celebrates its 50th anniversary.

"We have very fond memories from the 2010 edition, brilliantly held in Dubai.

"I am sure both Youssef and Layla will undoubtedly make the UAE proud.

"They are a source of inspiration for all aquatic athletes in the country and in the region. 

"Having represented my own country as a swimmer, I know the sacrifices which need to be made in order to compete at the highest level."

Host nation wildcards were confirmed at a press conference ©FINA
Host nation wildcards were confirmed at a press conference ©FINA

Organisers have also confirmed community programmes, which will run ahead of the event.

This will include a swim safety ambassador programme, in which graduates can become a certified swim safety ambassador, and a Schools and Club Roadshow.

The roadshow will feature appearances from the World Championships' mascot Dana.

A virtual swimming activation will also be held during the event, providing an insight into the challenges faced by elite-level swimmers during races.

Activations at Yas Mall, open swim sessions and Olympic watch parties will also take place.

"I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the impact of the Championships on swimming in the UAE, and the country’s reputation for staging world-class sporting events," said Sultan Al Samahi, President of UAE Swimming Federation.

"Hosting the FINA World Swimming Championships 25m is a great honour for both Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

"Not only does it provide fantastic entertainment for the watching public, but it also presents a huge opportunity to enhance the growth of swimming and sporting excellence in the country.

"Over the years, Abu Dhabi has successfully hosted several swimming events, including the FINA High Diving World Cup and FINA Open Water Swim World Cup.

"Every event we successfully stage further enhances the UAE’s reputation as the region’s hub for international sports.

"The standard of coaching has also improved to the extent that we now have Emirati swimmers competing in major events on the world stage, and we look forward to cheering on our own swimmers this December at Etihad Arena.

"We look forward to watching them compete on home soil when the FINA World Swimming Championships 25m comes to Abu Dhabi in December."