Kirsty struggles in Austin

Collin Matiza Sports Editor
ZIMBABWEAN swimming icon Kirsty Coventry stepped up her final preparations for this year’s Summer Olympic Games in the not best possible manner when she finished a disappointing sixth in the women’s 200m backstroke event at the Arena Pro Swim Series at Austin in Texas, United States, at the weekend.

In fact, Coventry failed to get a podium place in the three events that she took part in during the three-day event in Austin — the 200 and 100m backstroke; and 200m individual medley.

According to reports from Austin, in the 200m backstroke final on Saturday night, multi-time 32-year-old Zimbabwean Olympian Coventry was 2:10.05 for sixth, beating hometown hero Quinn Carrozza of Longhorn Aquatics (2:12.79) and Canadian and former NCAA champ Brooklynn Snodgrass (2:13.35).

The women’s 200m backstroke event was won by 22-year-old Maya DiRado of the United States.

After scratching out of the 400IM, Stanford pro DiRado found some outside smoke to win the 200m backstroke. Swimming from lane 7, DiRado went 2:08.19 to pull off a big win against Pro Swim Series champ Hungarian Katinka Hosszu and reigning Olympic champ Missy Franklin of the United States.

Hosszu and Franklin dueled in the middle of the pool with Hosszu taking silver in 2:08.63.

Franklin was 2:09.31.

Cal freshman Kathleen Baker nearly nipped Franklin as well, but struggled a little down the stretch to go 2:09.36 for fourth. Canada’s Dominique Bouchard was 2:09.70 for fifth, the last swimmer under 2:10.

Next to touch the wall was Zimbabwe’s Coventry who clocked 2:10.05 as she settled for sixth place and she must have been left disappointed by her overall performance at this meet which she was using as part of her final preparations for this August’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Apart from taking part in the women’s 200m backstroke event at the Arena Pro Swim Series at the weekend, Coventry also competed in the 100m backstroke and 200IM, coming fourth in the finals of both races on Sunday night.

In the 100m backstroke final, Coventry came fourth in 1:00.36 in the event that was won by Hosszu in 59.91 seconds followed by Franklin (1:00.03) and Kathleen Baker (1:00.04).

Hosszu also powered herself home first in the 200IM final winning it in 2:10.69 ahead of Melan Margalis (2.12.69), Sarah Henry (2:12.77) and Coventry (2:12.86).

Coventry, a seven-time Olympic Games medallist, has already qualified to compete in the women’s 100m backstroke at in Rio de Janeiro where she is set to make her fifth straight appearance at the world’s biggest sporting showcase.

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