For the first time, Seychelles will host the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) Marathon Swim World Series Open Challenge 2018.

On 20 May, swimmers from around the world will converge on Beau Vallon beach for the marathon swimming competition. This is the first time that an African country will host the event.

Given its popularity, the open challenge is set to attract worldwide media attention and boost Seychelles' profile in the international arena. In a deal with FINA, Seychelles will host an annual series of the competition for the next four years. Seychellois swimmers are therefore urged to take part.

David Vidot, chairman of the Seychelles Swimming Association, said: “We want this to be a massive event, and we want to see many Seychellois come to swim on that day."

"We also want to make an impact on the community, so we urge school children to take part in the competition," Vidot added, stating that there will be shorter distances for those who can't swim long distances.

Seychelles expects to host 60 elite swimmers to compete in the race, which is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. The morning will be dedicated to open water races for mass swimmers. The main event will be followed by a post-race prize ceremony and an evening gala dinner for the elite participants, sponsors and entourage.

The best Seychellois swimmers will represent Seychelles during the remainder of the series, due to take place in Portugal, Hungary, Canada, Chun'An in China, Taiwan and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

“Tourism accounts for more than 58% of Seychelles' GDP, so we're excited to host this high-profile sporting event for the first time,” said Sherin Francis, CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board. “We can't wait to show our hospitality to everyone coming to the FINA Open Water World Series.”

Beau Vallon was chosen to host the competition because of its calm weather and access to hotels near the beach. It is also known as a safe place to swim. Designated areas and sitting facilities will be available for spectators. Registration fees and other details will be announced soon. The names and nationalities of the swimming competitors will be announced two weeks ahead of the series.