Zimbabwe’s top swimmers are camped out in Bulawayo over this half-term weekend for the Zimbabwe Aquatics Union National Senior Swimming Championships, running from Thursday evening, Feb 18, through Monday, Feb 23. The Championships are being held at the 50 metre Bulawayo Municipal Pool, recently refitted for the AUSC Region 5 Games with new tiling, floodlights and electronic timing equipment.
Zimbabwe’s top junior swimmers, in races ranging from U12 to 17&Over, have been able to break records and achieve some personal bests in the championships which are being impressively and efficiently run by ZAU.
Mashonaland captain Ratidzo Mutangadura told SSN that it was a positive experience to race in the 50 meter Bulawayo pool, especially for sprints, and that it was a challenge to train consistently in 25 meters and then face a 50 meter pool on the day of competition. As the public has yet to have access to the international standard pool in Bulawayo, with it locked up since the Region 5 games, the swimmers were excited to experience the 50m venue lights, touchpads, electronic timing and scoreboard.
While Mashonaland is dominating the competition, Matabeleland has fielded a larger team at this year’s championships, using their home advantage to expose a larger number of younger swimmers to national level swimming.
Mashonaland showed their dominance in the relay events, winning all but one of them on Friday and Saturday with comfortable leads. The junior boys from Matabeleland, however, enjoyed a sweet victory in the 13-14 400 meter medley relay, where Denilson Cyprianos and Liam O’Hara, led the quad to a 5:04.16 finish, 15 seconds ahead of their Mashonaland competitors.
The Zimbabwe Aquatics Union has used the Senior Championships well for the develop of Zimbabwean swimming. FINA certified swim coach Debbie Wetzlar held a two-day FINA Level 1 coaching clinic at nearby Whitestone School on Thursday and Friday, with swim coaches coming from as far as Victoria Falls, Hwange and Gweru, to participate.
The Zimbabwe Olympic Committee conducted random drug tests on the swimmers and used the event to showcase anti-doping education for the student athletes. The Senior Championships continue through Monday with news, photos and results here on SSN.