By David Gold

David_DaviesApril 15 - Swim Wales have announced that the first annual Dragon Open Water Swim will take place later this year on August 6, with the possibility that the event could lead to qualification for future Commonwealth Games.

The event will be taking place in Swansea off the Mumbles coastline, bringing a major international swimming championship to Wales, and entry will be open to the general public for all aged 14 or above.

Organisers hope for approximately 500 swimmers to take part in the event, with more spaces planned in future years.

With the possibility of open water swimming joining the list of events for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, the event could become the qualification race for Welsh athletes.

The new event could also help a potential future Swansea bid to host a major swimming event, such as the European Junior Championships, given that the Wales National Pool in the city already meets requirements to host that particular tournament.

Tommy Allen, the British Open Water Swimmer of the Year 2010 said: "Open water certainly offers a totally different challenge to the pool.

"When I travel to different parts of the world to compete I see how popular open water swimming has become.

"Having our own national swim is a big step forward for the event in Wales and the prospect of bigger events in the future.

"The potential here is really exciting and there is a bit of a buzz about it."

The race hopes to attract stars such as Allen, David Davies, who took silver in the open water discipline at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and World and Commonwealth medallist Jazz Carlin.

The event starts and finishes at the slipway opposite the Mumbles Yacht Club, and 30 elite swimmers will start the race before being followed by stages of the rest of the competitors.

Swimmers will have a computer chip to wear and record their time, and entry for the public to the race is £30 ($49).

Martin Woodroff, who was a silver medallist at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 and is now Head of Performance at the Swansea Intensive Training Centre, said: "This is a fantastic addition to our portfolio of events and something that was required given the developments in open water competition.

"As well as being a big event in its own right, it gives us the platform to look at other competitions and how we might use the fantastic facilities we've got here in Swansea.

"We're sure that this will become a premier event on the Welsh sporting calendar which will be enjoyed by tourists to Wales as well as local people."

Scott Powell of Welsh Activity Wales added: "For an open water swim the coastline of Swansea Bay provides the perfect landscape.

"The course will go out along the coastline towards Swansea before looping back towards Mumbles.

"With the opportunity for spectators to be close to the action it should make an excellent event.

"It's another quality occasion for Wales and a chance for members of the public to test themselves in the same way as elite sportspeople."

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