As the heat intensified outdoors, children eagerly leaped into the indoor pool at GEMS Wellington Academy - Al Khail. Their laughter filled the air as they cautiously started swimming. For these kids, it was a joyful prelude to a two-month summer break. Meanwhile, in an adjacent pool, Karin Belbeisi and Christina Rach conversed quietly, their faces lit up with smiles. They exchanged playful nudges before plunging into the water. In just over two weeks, these teens will join global sports stars at the Paris Games (July 26-August 11), diving into the Olympic pool.

Karin, a student at GEMS Wellington Academy - Al Khail, has secured a spot in the 400m freestyle event in Paris. The 15-year-old is thrilled to represent Jordan, her homeland, at this prestigious event. Christina, from GEMS Wellington International School, will compete in the 50-metre freestyle for Eritrea. In a conversation with City Times, the Dubai-based teens shared their journey from local pools to the global stage.

Karin began swimming at age four, initially introduced to the sport by her mother. She quickly developed a passion for swimming, which became her sole focus. Christina, also introduced to swimming by her mother at four, found herself drawn into competitive swimming through her school and Hamilton Academy. Both girls come from families with strong sporting backgrounds, which fueled their competitive spirits.

Balancing school and swimming, Karin and Christina have found support in their schools. Karin credits her school for providing essential training and coaching, while Christina benefits from a sports scholarship. Their first memories of the Olympics were filled with dreams of participating, which have now become a reality.

Upon learning of their Olympic qualification, both teens experienced overwhelming joy. Karin described her mother's ecstatic reaction, while Christina shared the emotional response from her family in Eritrea. Their fathers, both former athletes, were especially proud, understanding the arduous journey to the Olympics.

As Olympians, Karin and Christina feel a profound sense of pride and responsibility. Karin hopes to inspire young athletes in the UAE and Jordan, while Christina aims to motivate young girls in the UAE and Eritrea to pursue their sporting passions.