Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
FIFTEEN swimmers left the country yesterday for the Level Three Age-Group championships which are scheduled to start tomorrow in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Participants will compete in various age-groups from the 12-and-Under to 17-18 age-group in the championships which will run until March 22.
The team is accompanied by Zimbabwe Aquatic Union president, Mary Kloppers, who said they are happy to see the number of local participants at the championships increasing.
“We’ve got 15 swimmers — 11 from Harare and four from Bulawayo aged from 13 to 18. It’s a huge improvement, especially in the juniors, which is very encouraging. Mostly we have juniors, 13 to 14-year-olds.
“Usually we have about 10 swimmers, so it’s like a 50 percent increase. It’s good, it’s brilliant, it means our coaches are doing their job and getting the kids where they should be.
“We have got some good seedings, so I am expecting a few medals,” said Kloppers.
Some of the swimmers representing Zimbabwe include Liam Davis, who was part of the Junior Africa Swimming championships team last year.
The 15-year-old will compete in five events — 200m, 100m and 50m breaststroke, 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley.
Liam, who will be making his fourth appearance at the event, said it’s a good platform to build-up for his dream to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“The first year I went there I was seeded a bit low and this year I am seeded fifth. Hopefully I can pull it up and go to first place.
“My goal is to get to the Olympics in 2020. My dream was to qualify this year but my times aren’t just there yet. So the more competition I get, the more experience I will get and hopefully I will get better each time . . . Practice makes perfect.
“This is most probably the most important Zimbabwe tour this year for us. So it’s really important to get good times and it’s a good pool we will be racing in. It’s a good opportunity to get good times,” Davis said.
His team-mate, Ayman Khatoun, is also looking forward to the competition in South Africa.
Khatoun is participating in the 200m, 100m and 50m backstroke events as well as the 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly competitions.
“I am expecting just to make to the finals because last year I didn’t get off to a good start. So this year I have been training for about four months. Hopefully now I can make my finals and get probably a place in the top five. Probably in the 200m backstroke and the 50m butterfly.
“I am not sure about the medals but I will push for them,” said Khatoun.
Boys: Aidan Onorati, Chase Onorati, Cole Onorati, Graham Hoal, Christian Cullen, Carl Kaziboni, Ayman Khatoun, Brendon Cyprianos, Denitson Cyprianos, Liam O’Hara, Liam Davis, Dale Bruce.
Girls: Courtney Brown, Paige Van der Westhuizen, Hannah Mitchell.