Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe Aquatic Union president Mary Kloppers has lamented the continued low participation in swimming events due to financial constraints as the Senior National Championships gets underway this evening at the Bulawayo Swimming Pool.
The usual provinces — defending champions Mashonaland, Mashonaland Country District, Manicaland, Matabeleland and hosts Bulawayo — are taking part in the competition running until Monday.
But it is the numbers of participants that is continuing to go down that is worrisome, as parents who are the main sponsors for their children are also feeling the effects of the economic challenges in the country.
Kloppers expressed concern over the unfortunate development, although she did not give the actual figures of swimmers expected for this year’s event.
“Our swimmers have been well prepared by their coaches so we expect them to perform to their best level.
“Finances are definitely restricting participation. It’s a very worrying situation, it keeps getting worse. Money has to be found so that parents can be subsidised. I don’t have the final numbers, but looking at provinces like Mashonaland, they are down by at least 20 swimmers.
“Corporate sponsorship is very hard to get. The only corporate sponsor we have is Quest Motors, they have been our medal sponsors for several years and we are really grateful to them. But we need more corporates to come on board because we will be hosting the CANA Zone IV Championships next year in January.
“We have 13 countries coming. I think that’s an advantage of a bigger competition because they will get more exposure. So certainly we are hoping for more corporates to come on board. We have realised that more corporates are willing to come, so it’s something we are already working on,” said Kloppers.
Kloppers said although some swimmers are dropping out, it will not affect the quality of the event.
“The level of competition will still be good, I am not worried of the level of competition. All our level three, who are our top swimmers, will be there. We have got all the top swimmers so we expect good results from them.
“We will probably be taking a team to Mauritius for the CANA championships towards the end of April,” said Kloppers.