Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
HARARE clubs have expressed confidence in their provincial team ahead of the National Senior Swimming Championships starting tomorrow at Bulawayo City Pool.
The championships are running until Sunday with swimmers from Harare, Manicaland, Masvingo, Mashonaland Country District and Matabeleland competing.
Harare have the largest contingent of 100 swimmers selected from different clubs and are optimistic they will post good times during the five-day competition.
Highlands have contributed the biggest number of swimmers for Harare and one of the coaches at the club, Michael Ranken, said they would want their swimmers to push for personal best times and were wrapping up their preparations yesterday.
“As Highlands we had more than 43 swimmers selected to go for the senior nationals. So we did two sessions, we had a morning session and late evening session. We are trying to prepare, to cover the distance and the speed and make sure that our swimmers are on point technically.
“We are looking at getting our swimmers on top. We have swimmers in different age-groups, they’re top swimmers and we have got Matida Musere, Limbikani Kalipengule, Paige van der Westhuizen, Tanatsirwa Chitsurura, Gabriel Mnaba and Saira Ramajan. All of them we are expecting them to get personal best times.
“So the swimmers that we have got, they are up and coming with a lot of potential. So what we have done is we are targeting them to go for South Africa Juniors (Championships) where they will meet other swimmers from different countries.
“So some of them have got the times (for the South Africa championships), other swimmers are also looking for times as well, to get the times at the national gala. Some are pushing to get personal best times (because) they already have the times for South Africa Juniors,” said Ranken.
Harare have dominated the championships over the years since they have the numbers but Ranken said this year it’s going to be different as Bulawayo have more of the top senior swimmers.
“If you look at the nationals, Harare have been strong, winning the nationals but we expect this year to be a different ball game altogether as Bulawayo have more top senior swimmers . . . It all goes down to the swimmers themselves who want it more,” said Ranken.
Sharks, who also have quite a number of athletes in the team, are looking at the likes of Dylan Huang, Donata Katai, Mkhuseli Mahobele and Gemma Schonken doing well at the event.
Sharks coach Timothy Phiri believes they have done all they can to prepare the swimmers. “We have prepared. We didn’t rest during the Festive Holidays, we only rested on the 25th (of December), on the 24th we were swimming and on the 26th we were swimming. We then rested on January 1 and from the 2nd up to now we were preparing. So in terms of preparations we are ready, we are on top.
“In terms of times we are not far because already some of our swimmers have qualified for South Africa Seniors, which is a top competition in South Africa.
“On the juniors we have Munotida Sungai, Asante Ali, we have got quite a lot. There is Mkhuseli Mahobele, she has been doing well in long distances, 800m, 400m, 1 500m, she is doing well,” said Phiri.
All teams are expected to be in Bulawayo by tomorrow afternoon ahead of the opening ceremony later in the day and the first swimming session expected to start at 6pm.