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2019 Swimming Review: Namutebi stars again as USF venture into Water Polo

By Michael Nsubuga

Added 1st January 2020 06:22 PM

Kirabo won 11 individual gold medals and broke all meet records in her category on top of setting a new 50m freestyle record of 26.90.

2019 Swimming Review: Namutebi stars again as USF venture into Water Polo

Kirabo Namutebi had another wonderful season locally and internationally. Photos by Michael Nsubuga

Kirabo won 11 individual gold medals and broke all meet records in her category on top of setting a new 50m freestyle record of 26.90.


Juniors still hold the fort for Uganda swimming with now over 600 swimmers engaged in the sport at different levels.

Dolphins Club and national swimmer Kirabo Namutebi, 14, in particular, continued to prove how far she has come and grown with the sport by again shining out locally and internationally.

She received plaudits from the swimming fraternity and many other Ugandans following her superb performance at the 7th FINA World Swimming Championship that was held in Hungary, in August.

The 14-year-old British School of Uganda, Dolphins Swim Club, and national swimmer did not only achieve personal bests in all her races but set a new national record when she clocked 26.98 in the 50m freestyle race.

She bettered Jamila Lunkuse's time of 27.43 set in 2014 over the same distance by 1.45 seconds as she became Uganda's first swimmer in recent times to win a heat at the World Championships.

 irabo in action for the olphins Kirabo in action for the Dolphins.


Despite her time being 2.27 second shy of USA's Warsh Gretchen who won gold over the distance, Namutebi beat nine other swimmers from different countries in her heat and finished 38th overall out of 102 swimmers who swam that race.

She also registered personal bests in the 50m fly, 100m freestyle, 50m butterfly and 50m breaststroke races.

She clocked 35.22, 26.98 and 25.70 in the 50m breast, freestyle and butterfly races respectively while Adnan Kabuye managed 27.95 and 25.99 in the 50m fly and freestyle races respectively.

Darren Ssamula who also made his debut at the worlds returned 28.96, 59.24 and 1:07.88 in the 50m butterfly, and 100m free and butterfly races respectively.

Namutebi had earlier claimed 2gold and 1silver and 2bronze in the CANA Zone IV championship in Namibia in February where Uganda team Captain Avice Meya also bagged 2silver and 1bronze.

During the 13th CANA Junior Swimming Championship in Tunisia, she achieved another milestone when she bagged 2 gold and 1silver to help Uganda finish 4th overall out of 42 countries. That earned her the Real Stars Monthly Sports Award and only lost out on the USPA monthly award to athlete Halima Nakayi who had also grabbed gold in the 800m race at the World Athletics Championship.

 eal tars ports wardees right nukani left irabo amutebi 2nd right and lon rlands mother vas rland right pose with the xecutive resident of eal tars ports gency saac ukasa at ugogo ctober 3 2019 Real Stars Sports Awardees Bright Anukani (left), Kirabo Namutebi (2nd right) and Alon Orland's mother Evas Orland (right) pose with the Executive President of Real Stars Sports Agency Isaac Mukasa at Lugogo, October 3 2019.


Her brother Tendo Mukalazi also shattered the national 50m breaststroke national record at the FINA Junior World Championships in Korea. Tendo made 32.64 and 29.70 in the 50m breast and backstroke races, which were all personal bests. Atuhaire Ambala, Selina Katumba and Avice Meya were the other members on the team.

At the CANA Zone 3 Swimming Championship held at the Kasarani Aquatic Center in Nairobi, Namutebi was once again unstoppable in the 13-14 years category that she led with 174 points ahead of Kenya's Islam Lubaina (140pts) and South Africa's Adams Keesha (131pts).

Kirabo picked 6 gold and 3 silver and was instrumental in a number of relay races as Ugandan won 53 individual medals overall (14gold, 29sliver,10bronze).

The girls finished third overall on 851 points behind Tanzania and Kenya who won the category with 1,180 points.

 abuye made a debut at the worlds in udapest Kabuye made a debut at the worlds in Budapest.


Earlier during the annual Independence Swimming Gala Kirabo won 11 individual gold medals and broke all meet records in her category on top of setting a new 50m freestyle record of 26.90.

Kirabo, who was USPA swimmer of the year in 2013 and 2016, looks to add another award from her 2019 performance.

The Dolphins Swim Club missed her as they competed in the KSF Long Course Nationals 2019 at the Kenya Swimming Federation Age Group Swimming Championships in Nairobi, in February but they would collect a total of 42 medals (8gold, 18silver and 16bronze) to finish second for the first time in five years.

The Coach Paul Bampata led team produced some golden performances in the three-day event with Pendo Kaumi, Jordan Ssamula, Tendo Kaumi picking gold in the 200m freestyle, 400IM and in the 100m backstroke races, in a time of 2:36.97, 6:45.30 and 1:17.38 respectively in some of the races.

The other Uganda club the Seals was also on top of their game topping the girls' category on 862 points ahead of Bandari and Loreto teams but finishing third overall.


 eals wim lub swimmers celebrate with their trophies after beating seven other clubs to the eals nvitational wimming ala 2019 at ampala arents school Seals Swim Club swimmers celebrate with their trophies after beating seven other clubs to the Seals Invitational Swimming Gala 2019 at Kampala Parents school.


It was also a first for most of the Seals but the likes of Amelia Mudanye, Alexis Kituuka, Mpeera Yalonda, Neema Kangi, Anthea Mudanye, Natalie Lutalo, and John Kafumbe gave a good account of themselves with some golden performances.

Clubs also continued to develop the sport through the different club events like the Seals League Meets and Invitational, the Dolphins Fast and Furious as well as the Silverfin Pentathlon.

The Dolphins Swim Club swimmers proved dominant throughout the year in the Seals League meets that were held at the Kampala Parents School pool.

The Dolphins topped six of the ten categories with the Seals only getting a top spot in only the boys' 13-14, the girls' 9-10 and 13-14 years categories where John Kafumbe, Mpeera Yalonda, Neema Kangi and Amelia Mudanye excelled.

 olphins swimmers cheeron their colleagues during a local event Dolphins swimmers cheer-on their colleagues during a local event.


Dolphins' Adnan Kabuye, Ethan Ssengooba, Daniel Nuwagaba, Ssango Kiggundu, Michelle Sine and Shalom Birungi topped the other age categories.

The Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) also organised two sprint galas in the year where juniors continued to test their speed in the different races.

In the second sprints gala Seals' Amelia Mudanye's time of 1: 23.33 in the 100IM, in the girls 10&Under category remained intact with the winner of the category Kampala Aquatics' Rahmah Nakasule, managing 1: 28.03. Daniel Nuwagaba who won the boys' event in the same category was also slower 60 microseconds slower than his previous time from the same race

In the girls' 11-12 years category Dolphins' Kirabo Namutebi's 1: 15.43 set in 2017 also remained intact with Michelle Sine who won making 1:17.72; just like John Kafumbe's 1: 09.67 set from the first gala. Pendo Kaumi could only manage 1:14.95 over the four-stroke race.

In the girls' 13-14 years Namutebi (1:08.90) and Paulsen Ssettumba (equaled their first sprint time while Selina Katumba in the 15&Over made 1:14.95 to edge fast-improving Alexis Kituuka.

 melia udanye in action during the eals eague Amelia Mudanye in action during the Seals League.


Elsewhere, Uganda para swimmer Husnah Kukundakwe's classification classes were confirmed after she competed in the World Para Swimming World Series 2019 in Singapore in May.

Kukundakwe currently competes in the S9 (freestyle, butterfly, and backstroke), SB8 (breaststroke) and SM9 (Individual Medley) which was due for review at the championship.

All these were confirmed at the championship where the 12-year-old managed to collect some points in all the four events although she could not make it to the finals.

She also competed in the World Para-Swimming Championships in London, United Kingdom.
Kukundakwe, 12, was the youngest swimmer at the championship but the weight of the competition and seniority of her colleagues did not stop her from posting personal bests (PB) in the 50m and 100m freestyle events. She made 1:24.85 and  38.14 in the 100m and 50m freestyle races.

 ara swimmer ukundakwe in freestyle action Para swimmer Kukundakwe in freestyle action.


Aga Khan High School garnered 2,701 points to win the Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) Independence Gala tournament held at Kampala International School of Uganda (KISU) for the fifth time in a row.

Aga Khan dominated both the girl's and boys' categories to beat the British School of Kampala that finished second overall, by 1216 points.

But despite being beaten to the overall title, the British School produced some of the best individuals of the tournament with national swimmer Kirabo Namutebi, Neema Kangi, Ethan Olowo and Mpeera Yalonda shining for them.

Kirabo won 11 individual gold medals and broke all meet records in her category on top of setting a new 50m freestyle record of 26.90.

His brother Tendo Mukalazi also weighed in with ten medals; 4 Gold, 4 silver and 2 bronze on top of four meet records and a new national 50m freestyle record of 24.54.

 ga hans dnan abuye foreground and ritish chools ukalazi in action during the ndependence gala at Aga Khan's Adnan Kabuye (foreground) and British School's Mukalazi in action during the Independence gala at KISU.


The USF has also been keen on developing water polo by organizing a schools league and water polo development clinics in Jinja and Masaka.

They also joined the 3rd FINA World Aquatics Day celebrations that involved a brief address on Water Safety, Water Health, the Environment, and a 1.5km Open Water Swimming Exhibition Sprint at Aero Beach in Entebbe.

They also continued to hold the Masters Championship for retired swimmers and those who swim for fun as a way of keeping them active.

"USF believes that empowered administrators, officials, and coaches are critical if we are to sustainably improve our sport. To this end development clinics were held for coaches and some of our administrators attended sport administration courses run by the Uganda Olympic Committee/ Olympic Solidarity," USF president Don Rukare stated. 

"We shall continue to sharpen and hone the skills of our administrators in 2020".

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