Zimbabwe Rowing Squad Shines at SA National Champs

Zimbabwe’s top senior rowers, a mixture of high school students and their coaches, travelled to South Africa for the past two weeks first to train and then compete in the South African Senior National Championships. The squad surpassed expectations, bringing home eight gold medals, six silvers, and shattering two national records.

Olympian Micheen Thornycroft, who teaches at Hellenic Academy, beat out all South African top female rowers to break the women’s heavyweight Single Scull national record with Chisipite Senior coach Kristine Johnson coming 5th and Peterhouse Girls youth Olympian Daniella Du Toit coming 8th. Du Toit also earned a silver with Arundel coach Joey Swanepoel in the women’s pairs.
Zimbabwe took first and second in the U18 junior women’s single scull race with Megan Dickens earing gold and Jennifer Lorimer silver. The pair also won gold in the U18 doubles. Bryony Hulme brought home gold in the U16 single scull and joined partner Holly Garnett to win silver in the U16 pairs. Courtney Bass joined Dickens, Hulme and Garnett to bring Zimbabwe gold in an exciting quad race.

Zimbabwe U18 Boys rowing quad
Gold medal winning boys U/18 quad. L-R: Paul Zwanikken, Kyle Hinde, Bradley Leipe and Darragh van Aswegan

Youth Olympian St John’s College student Kyle Hinde narrowly missed gold and had to settle for silver in in the men’s U18 single scull. However, with partner Paul Zwanikken, he brought home gold in the U18 doubles. Darraugh van Aswegan earned gold in the U16 single, closely pursued by teammate Bradley Leipe of St George’s College with a silver. The two brought home silver in the men’s U16 doubles as well.

Finally, the boys put together their strength and speed for a dynamic Hinde, Zwanikken, Leipe and Van Aswegen U18 quad that won a convincing gold for Zimbabwe.

The team’s strong showing in South Africa for Team Zimbabwe bodes well for the state of the sport in the country, with many rowers focusing on strength and conditioning in the upcoming off-season.