Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S swimmers at the ongoing African Union Sports Council Region Five Youth Games had a good outing on Monday, picking several medals in individual and relay events in Maseru, Lesotho.
The swimmers got off to a good start to qualify for the finals in their respective events.
Olympian, Donata Katai, got gold in the 50m butterfly while Paige van der Westhuizen, who has also been on the rise, was the first to touch the wall in the 200m freestyle to claim gold as well.
Katai represented the country at the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games this year and on Monday she rose to the occasion to win one of the gold medals by the swimming team.
It has been a fruitful outing for Zimbabwe’s swimmers as they are making their presence felt at the Regional Games.
Chinyere Mgbemena won silver in 100m breaststroke and Riana Rollo also had a good day in the pool, picking silver in 200m butterfly.
It was also a good day for the relay teams with the girls’ team consisting of Tanatsirwa Chitsurura, Rollo, Timea Schultz and van der Westhuizen swam their way to a gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
The men’s 4x100m freestyle settled for silver. The team was made up of Jasper Mpofu, Jake Oostindien, Dylan Lee and Ryan Franceys.
Katai, Oostindien, Franceys and van der Westhuizen teamed-up for the mixed 4x100m medley and they walked away with a silver medal.
All-in-all, the team picked seven medals on Monday — three gold and four silver.
Going into the Games, some of the swimmers that spoke to The Herald were confident of some good performances and from the results coming from Maseru, they have so far done well.
One of the coaches that is in charge of the team in Maseru, Masi Takaedza, was full of praise of the team and said the swimmers’ performance surpassed their expectations.
Most of them have also posted their personal best times, which is encouraging for the young team.
“I think the kids have done very well. I mean we didn’t expect that many medals, so we are happy.
“So far we have had more than 60 percent PBs. The swimming has been great from the kids, so a big thank you to the coaches back in Zimbabwe who work with some of these kids. I mean the swimming has been amazing,” said Takaedza.
There have been some amendments to the swimming programme which has left the swimmers with little time to recover in between the events.
“It’s been very difficult, I mean we have had to swim heats, finals, heats, finals, which is unusual for us. But I guess everyone is on the same boat so we just have to live with it. It’s not ideal but we have so far managed to cope. I think we are doing well,” said Takaedza.
Swimming remains one of the sport codes that has done well at the Regional Games for Zimbabwe and as competition continues, hopes are high for more medals.
Zimbabwe Swimming chairperson, Tracey Doorman, also hailed the team for the good effort under the circumstances.
“We are obviously very excited and pleased with the medal winning performances. But also of the team in general given the hectic nature of the amended programme which leaves little time for recovery before the next session,” said Doorman.
In volleyball, the men’s team lost 2-0 to Lesotho on Sunday evening before they suffered their second defeat at the hands of Botswana on Monday.
The women’s game between Zimbabwe and Botswana that was scheduled for Monday as well was forfeited.