As temperatures soared outside, children eagerly plunged into the indoor pool at Gems Wellington Academy School in Dubai. Their laughter filled the air as they cautiously began their swim. This marked the start of two months of joyous summer holidays for these youngsters. Meanwhile, in the adjacent pool, Karin Belbeisi and Christina Rach, both teenagers, conversed quietly, their faces lit up with smiles as they gently nudged each other before diving into the water.

In just over two weeks, Karin and Christina will join global sports legends at the Paris Games (July 26-August 11), stepping into the Olympic pool. Karin, a student at GEMS Wellington Academy, has secured a spot in the 400m freestyle event, representing Jordan, her homeland. Similarly, Christina, from GEMS Wellington International School, will compete in the 50-metre freestyle for Eritrea. In a candid interview with City Times, the duo shared their journey from local pools to the global stage.

Reflecting on their beginnings, Karin recalled starting swimming at age four, initially introduced by her mother, and soon dedicating herself solely to the sport. Christina, also initiated into swimming at four by her mother, found her passion grow as she joined competitive teams. Both girls come from families with strong sporting backgrounds, which fueled their competitive spirits.

Balancing school and swimming, Karin and Christina praised their schools for their unwavering support, which has been crucial in their success. Their first memories of the Olympics were filled with dreams of participating, which have now materialized into reality. The news of their qualification brought overwhelming joy to their families, with tears of pride and excitement.

As they prepare to represent their countries at the Olympics, both athletes feel a profound sense of pride and hope to inspire young athletes in the UAE and their respective homelands. They are eager to share their experiences and encourage others to pursue their dreams in sports and beyond.