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Dumuje-Abili: Nigerian swimming prodigy inspired by Phelps, Messi


At the age of eight, Aidan Dumuje-Abili’s name began to travel around the world due to his prowess in swimming.

That was in 2019 and he was dubbed the fastest swimmer of his age by different local and international media that saw a glimpse of his ability in the water.

Four years later, this hasn’t changed.

Now 12, Dumuje-Abili is fast getting closer to his dreams of swimming at the Olympics and of course, to smash world records as well.

Aside from swimming, the young chap also plays football, basketball as well as tennis and his idols are the most decorated swimmer in the world Michael Phelps and eight-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

“My idol is Lionel Messi because of his leadership and his determination on the pitch. I also play football, basketball, tennis and I will swim professionally because I’m best at that one. I really like the most decorated swimmer in the world Michael Phelps,” he said.

As he balances swimming and other sports with his academics, he also has an online store for some T-shirts and sports merchandise he calls ‘goldfin’.

Like his idols, Dumuje-Abili has been exhibiting his exceptional talent from a young age and he keeps getting better every day. Little wonder why his friends even call him bullet due to his speed.

In May, he won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the World Schools Swimming Championships in London.

At the last National Youth Games in Asaba, Dumuje-Abili won the 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly as well as 50m butterfly and also got a silver in the 200m medley relay. In the 100m butterfly, he just posted a time of 1:03.73 which is the fastest-ever recorded time for a 12-year-old in Nigeria.

Before then, he was named the best overall swimmer for boys at the fourth edition of the Dolphin Swimming League after he single-handedly won 15 gold medals in the U-11 category. He has started the current season of the school competition with aplomb again and could be dominating the awards for his school at the end of the four-leg meet.

“It’s quite exciting to see everyone cheering for one another. I’m always delighted to represent my school and the level of competition here is in the same league as the youth games. It’s still a difficult competition. I’ve done one now, and I’ll just see how the other legs go” Dumuje-Abili said after competing in the opening leg of the Dolphin Swimming League season five.

“I realized that I like to swim because – I started swimming at a young age so I just said to myself why don’t I continue this sport and be good at it? When I swim, I feel like a shark is chasing me so I need wings to fly, but my friends call me ‘bullet’ because I swim very fast,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Already dubbed the next big thing in Nigerian swimming, Dumuje-Abili interestingly started it as a life skill. Irene, mother of Dumuje-Abili revealed this after the 12-year-old won medals at the last National Youth Games in Asaba.

“We are still on the journey. It started up as a life skill at the age of four plus and he has had different kinds of techniques training, been to different camps in Nigeria and abroad and so we are here,” she said.

In Nigeria, despite boasting of large coasts of riverine areas in states like Lagos, Delta, Bayelsa and more, the country is yet to produce a medallist in swimming at the world championship and Olympics. The country has however enjoyed some success on the continent, but many believe there is enough potential to compete at the global level.

Perhaps aware of this, Dumuje-Abili said he was looking forward to smashing world records in swimming someday.

“I would also like to break the 100m and 50m butterfly and 100m and 50m freestyle world records,” the young swimmer told our correspondent.

All eyes are usually on the 12-year-old at every meet he attends within and outside the country and he doesn’t feel the pressure to impress. He makes it look so easy, just like his idols, Phelps and Messi.

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