Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
HARARE once again underlined their status as the team to beat at the National Senior Swimming Championships that ended on Sunday at Bulawayo City Pool when they amassed a combined team score of 3 066 points.
They have had the upper-hand in the national competition over the years since they have the numbers and also some of the country’s top swimmers.
However, it was not an easy victory with Matabeleland giving a good account of themselves mainly in the men’s section where they topped the points table.
Overall, Matabeleland were second with a combined team score of 2 081 points.
Mashonaland Country Districts were a distant third with 119 points. Crocs and Manicaland were fourth and fifth with 57 and 42 points respectively.
The likes of Donata Katai, Vhenekai Dhemba, Loyiso Mahobele, Matida Musere, Limbikani Kalipengule, Tori Dawe and Kyle Heyns, representing Harare, were some of the swimmers who were in good form at the national meet.
For swimmers that have made the times for the South Africa Senior and Junior championships and those that are in the national team to compete at the CANA Zone IV Swimming Championships in Botswana next month took this as part of their preparations.
Highlands coach Michael Ranken said there has been an improvement from the swimmers coming from the different provinces as reflected by the competition between Harare and Matabeleland.
Matabeleland’s Denilson Cyprianos, Liam O’Hara, Joash McKonie, Tichatonga Makaya, Onesmus Ngwenya and Cory Werrett helped push their provincial team to second place.
“In terms of quality I think our quality in Harare has improved and we dominated almost every girls’ event. Point to note we have 12-years-and-under, I think almost every final it was all Harare. And then in the boys category Matabeleland dominated all the boys relays and individual events as well.
“So what we took note of is the improvement and the level of swimming has gone up in such a way whereby we have more and more swimmers who are participating and who are competing at junior level,” said Ranken.
Highlands contributed most of the swimmers into the provincial team and Ranken was pleased with how they fared at the national competition.
“Our swimmers did very well, we had quite a number of personal best times. I think everyone had a personal best times in each and every event that they swam, so they did very well.
“So what we are looking for is we have got swimmers who are going for CANA, we have got swimmers who will be going for Level Three, we have got swimmers who are going for South Africa Junior Championships, so we are trying to push and see where they can get up to in terms of improvement,” said Ranken.
Sharks coach Kathy Lobb believes the club’s swimmers going for the upcoming events outside the country have a good chance of making the nation proud.
“We had a very successful championships with Sharks swimmers winning over 25 individual gold medals, 12 silver and 20 bronze. We also had lots of personal best times, some as much as 20 seconds.
“Vhenekai Dhemba won 10 gold medals and one silver and not only won aggregate in her age-group but also the best female swimmer of the championships. We had lots finishing in the top three of their age-groups.
“Donata Katai won all her backstroke races comfortably as well as the 50m butterfly. She also placed in the breaststroke, freestyle and medley races she swum in.
“All of these swimmers are back to training tomorrow (today) as they are going on tours that start next month. If they continue to train hard they should do very well,” said Lobb. The CANA Zone IV Swimming championships are scheduled for February 20 to 23 in Gaborone, Botswana.