Ayman Klzie, 23, is from Aleppo, Syria. He started swimming at seven years old. He was inspired after spending time at the pool with his family and young swimmers at the local swim club. Seeing champion swimmers excel motivates him to swim for Syria. When training in Aleppo became dangerous, all the swimmers moved elsewhere. Ayman moved to Damascus and lived there for four years.
Ayman studied Business at the University of Damascus prior to his move to Thailand. His studies are put on hold after he received the FINA scholarship in 2015. When he moved to Thanyapura in Phuket, Thailand, he was offered a job as a Swim Coach. He hopes Syria will return to being a safe country as he misses his parents. His father worked as a train conductor while his mom took care of the family as a homemaker. For now, he plans to stay and work in Thailand at Thanyapura.
FINA selected Ayman as the best swimmer in Syria – out from the pool of four boys and two girls. FINA provides opportunities for Ayman to live and train in Thailand, as well as the occasional flights back home.
“When I was in Aleppo, I had normal training and swimming pools and swimmers. When the war started, all the swimmers moved outside from Aleppo. I moved to Damascus for four years. Didn’t see my family. After that, I got the scholarship. Even in Damascus, we would have problems like no water in the swimming pool or green water. Sometimes there are fires and so we stay in the hotel and can’t go out. I stopped going to university in Damascus after coming here to training. Damascus University. Studying business. I stopped to come to Thailand. Now I have a job at Thanyapura. If I do I go back to school, I’ll study sports. Coach Miguel helped me to find a job here. I coach swimming for the kids,” Ayman said.
The most challenging aspect of swim training is to wake up at 5 am to train almost every day – nonstop. He trains six days a week, twice a day without long holidays in between. Despite the rigorous training, Ayman enjoys Thanyapura for its clean pool and beautiful weather. Thanyapura has great facilities, organized training plans and nutrition programs to help him become a better swimmer. Coach Miguel is a central figure in developing Ayman’s swimming skills. The coach advises him on his diet, the techniques to practice for major competitions and sagely tips on how to manage nervousness.
In 2015, Ayman qualified for the Dubai Open. He was selected for the World Championships in Doha and Canada. His short term goal is to qualify and compete in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. Ayman accumulated over 100 medals and broke national records in the butterfly (50, 100, 200 metres) and freestyle (200 and 400 metres).
In 2016, he competed in four competitions and was awarded four bronze medals.
“My goal is to see Syria safe one day so I can go back and live with my parents. I want to train with my family there. But if I have a job, I can stay here for along time.”
Follow his Instagram @aymankelzie