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By Jide Alaka
March 24, 2010 01:26AM
The first swimming competition of the year will start without a full house in Ibadan. The Classics was designed to feature the best 14 swimmers from around the country, seven male and seven female but two of these company have said they will not be coming to Ibadan to compete.

The Ibadan Swimming Classics will start at the University of Ibadan swimming pool tomorrow but the event will be missing Eric Williams, captain of the swimming team to Rome 2009 and Ifiezibe Gagbe, both from Bayelsa State.

Absent for education
Explaining why he will be absent at the meet, Gagbe said:

'I will not be coming to Ibadan because of my studies. Our examinations will be starting next month and there is really no time for competitions right now.' Eric Williams will also be absent because of his educational commitments which means the Bayelsa team will be absent in Ibadan. Gagbe and Williams are both students at the University of Port Harcourt.

On what the absence of these swimmers will do to the competition, Yellow Yeiyah, who represents Ogun State said:

'It would have been nice to have Ify and Eric in Ibadan as it would have led to a better competition. Their absence though will allow some new talents to come through but we are still expecting stiff competition from the other states. This is the first event of the year and everybody wants to do well.'

The show must go on
Saheed Obadina, the national coach believes the absence of these national swimmers will not take the gloss off the event as other states will be ably represented.

'It is always hard to get a date that is pleasing to everybody but we have to make the competition work now. We are starting late but they will be afforded other events to compete in later in the year. Let us just get this one over with and then we will know that the swimming year has started in earnest.' After a lot of hiccups and postponements, the next competition on the swimming calendar is the CNS Open Swimming Championship that will take place in Kaduna from April 15 – 17, 2010.