Four years down the road, Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) are ready to re-launch their annual awards tonight at GEMS Cambridge International School – Butabiika.
The awards were first organized in 2016 to reward the top achievers of 2015 but USF struggled to sustain that momentum after Arnold Kisulo and Jamila Lunkuse were awarded as the top swimmers then.
The two retired almost immediately after that recognition – as they got to the peak of their powers – but their legacy is intact.
In fact among the winners from 2016, Greenhill Academy still ranks among the best primary and secondary schools while among individuals, only Muzafaru Muwanguzi is still around to defend his title as best coach.
He goes up against Erick Kisero and Joseph Kabogoza, who was head coach as Uganda’s Kirabo Namutebi won the country’s first ever continental gold at the Africa Junior Championships in September.
Muwanguzi, however, deserves even more credit for raising Namutebi – who holds the national record (26.98) in the girls’ 50m freestyle made at the World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August 2019. His club Dolphins also ranked number one at the USF National Championships in June last year.
Kisero, who was Muwanguzi’s assistant at the Cana Zone III Championships where Uganda finished second out of nine countries, also had his relatively smaller Altona Swim Club rank fourth at the nationals and top in water polo.
Their counterparts Cari Karugireyo (Silverfin), Zamzam Khalil (Aga Khan and Dolphins) and Tabithah Nakasinde (Malta) are in running for the best female coach award.
Meanwhile, Namutebi, who bagged gold in the 50m breaststroke (35.13) and 50m freestyle (27.33) at the Africa Juniors will likely be crowned best female swimmer ahead of her senior counterparts Avice Meya and Selina Katumba.
Her only competition tonight could be Dolphins teammate and para-swimmer Husnah Kukundakwe, who at 12 years represented Uganda at three international para meets and Paulsen Settumba, who made the most age group records. The trio battle for the most inspirational swimmer award.
The real clash of the titans is for best male swimmer award; Atuhaire Ambala broke national records for fun last year but Tendo Mukalazi edged him as best swimmer at the nationals last year.
Meanwhile, Adnan Kabuye did not only break records like the two front-runners but was easily Uganda’s best male performer at the Cana Zone III Championships in Nairobi last December.
Kabuye’s influence transcended the pool and featured for the national team in open water too in Nairobi. And his consolation could be an open water award at the expense of his younger teammates Mikkah Kigundu and Hayyan Kisitu.
For USF and sponsors DStv, the challenge will be to make the awards night an annual fixture on their calendar.
Best Female Swimmer: Avice Meya, Kirabo Namutebi, Selina Katumba
Best Male Swimmer: Adnan Kabuye, Atuhaire Ambala, Tendo Mukalazi
Most Inspiring Athlete: Husnah Kukundakwe, Kirabo Namutebi, Paulsen Settumba
Best Female Coach: Cari Karugireyo, Tabithah Nakasinde, Zamzam Khalil
Best Male Coach: Erick Kisero, Joseph Kabogoza, Muzafaru Muwanguzi
Best Female Open water swimmer: Ahura Ambala, Mubiru Swagiah, Olivia Nalwadda
Best Male Open water swimmer: Adnan Kabuye, Hayyan Kisitu, Mikka Kigundu
Best Female Masters Swimmer: Aya Nakitanda, Grace Kigundu, Philippa Makobere
Best Male Masters Swimmer: Gilbert Kaburu, Hassan Latif, Morris Yuda Ssekamatte
Best Swim Club: Dolphins, Seals, Silverfin
Best Waterpolo Team: Altona, King’s College Budo, Seeta Green HS
Best Primary School: Greenhill Academy, Kampala Junior Academy, Seeta Junior Academy
Best Secondary School: Greenhill Academy, Seeta Green High School, Taiba Secondary School
2015 USF Awards Winners
Best Senior Male Swimmer: Arnold Kisulo
Best Senior Female Swimmer: Jamila Lunkuse
Best Junior Male Swimmer: Nabil Saleh
Best Junior Female Swimmer: Rebecca Ssengonzi
Best Masters Female Swimmer: Kate Kizza
Best Masters Male Swimmer: Latif Kajumbi
Best Coach: Muzafaru Muwanguzi
Best National Primary School: Greenhill Academy
Best National Secondary School: Greenhill Academy