By Michael Nsubuga
With the 2016 Olympics in mind, Uganda Junior swimmers continued to shine on the local and international scene as the 2013 calendar came to a close.
The youngsters are expected to continue improving and make more impact at the CANA Zone 3 and 4 Championships due in Kampala, April next year.
During this year’s event held at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Zambia, Uganda collected sixteen medals. Led by Olympian Jamila Lunkuse, the boys’ team picked 3 silver medals and two bronze while the girls’ team collected 7 gold, 3 silver and three bronze.
Uganda medals were from Lunkuse (5 gold, 2 silver), Rebecca Ssengonzi (3 silver), Elisha Ekirikubinza (1 silver, 1 bronze) and Jethro Ssengonzi (1 silver, 1 bronze). Uganda’s medal count was limited by the small number in the event.
The team had 16 swimmers while most countries had more than double the figure.
There is a strong belief that Uganda will attain more success when the event is held on home turf. Elsewhere, USPA swimmer of 2012 Tendo Mukalazi emerged top performer in the 10 years and under category for boys and also won the overall trophy during the Kenya Junior Championships in Nairobi.
Gloria Muzito took the girls’ crown in the same age category. Kirabo Namutebi was the 2nd overall best participant in the girls’ 8 years and under category.
At the Kenya Junior Championship Mukalazi won 2 gold, 3 silver and broke two records. Muzito picked 4 gold and 1 silver breaking 4 records in the process.
Namutebi Kirabo also put up an impressive display winning 2 gold and 3 silver and broke 2 records. But Namutebi’s freestyle record in the same competition eclipsed the overall performance of all the boys and girls in the 9, 8 and 7 years and under categories.
At the same competition, Dolphins Club finished top after taking second position overall with 278 points in the boys and girls categories.
Mukalazi, Muzito and Namutebi were also the best entrants in their categories at the Aga Khan Championships held after the event in Nairobi.
Namutebi won 7 gold and 1 silver, Mukalazi and Muzito walked away with 5 gold medals each from different events The Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) also held the Swim against Malaria drive where over sh24m was raised.
US based Trinidad and Tobago former freestyle Olympic medallist and world champion George Bovell attended the event at Rainbow International School.
He was in the company of Croatian national Duje Draganja, a former freestyle Olympic medallist and Uganda’s Dorcus Inzikuru, a former world steeplechase champion. USF drive was aimed at equipping village health teams with malaria testing kit.
Later, the former international swimmers held coaching clinics for selected participants and coaches at Aga khan pool in Kololo. The coaches were specifically urged to instil confidence and self-belief in young swimmers as they carry out their day-to-day training.
Top training methods The coaches were exposed to different training methodologies and techniques. Ugandan swimmers, who are over 25, also battled for various awards at the inaugural Masters Championship. The event was held at the International School of Uganda.
Another group of youngsters from the Seals Club represented Uganda effectively collecting 24 medals at the Kenya Swimming Federation Short Course Championships in Mombasa. The young swimmers’ medal haul was led by Rebecca Ssengonzi.
She won six medals –– 2 gold in the 50m butterfly and backstroke races, 1 silver and 3 bronze in the 100m breast, 100m IM, 200m free and 200m medley relay respectively.
STARS OF THE YEAR
Going by her performance in different events throughout the year, Jamila Lunkuse is one of the standout swimmers.
The swimmer (top, inset) got 5 gold and 2 silver medals from the CANA Zone 3 and 4 Championships.
Rebecca Ssengonzi also performed well collecting 3 silver at the same championship and added six (2 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze) at the Kenya Swimming Federation Short Course Championships in Mombasa. She also made a debut at the Africa Junior Championships held in Zambia.
For breaking two records each at the Kenya Junior Championship Mukalazi Tendo (2 gold, 3 silver), Gloria Muzito (4 gold and 1 silver), Namutebi Kirabo (2 gold and 3 silver) and Selina Katumba (5 gold) are also stars in their own right.
NEED TO IMPROVE
Arnold Kisulo’s performance has declined but he continues to show steady progress and is a regular competitor at national and international events. Sisters Anne and Anthea Mudanye can also improve on their time with more training.
They participated in a number of competitions on the domestic stage.
Princess Katrina Ssangalyambogo, among other juniors, is also expected to make steady progress next year. Like her colleagues, she appears determined to stamp her authority on the sport.