The South Africa Level Three Regional Age Group Championships were meant to be the definitive challenge.
Dolphins’ coaches, swimmers and their parents worked hard to prove themselves in Cape Town. This required skipping some events to allow parents save money.
Seven swimmers made it to the April 3-6 long course gala where they swam in the preliminaries and finals format finishing ninth, out of 43 clubs, with 262.5 points.
Kirabo Namutebi, 13, collected a whooping 99.5points after winning six gold and one silver medal. She had the best 50m freestyle time (28.85) among all girls that attended the meet while her 31.30 in the 50m butterfly was only bettered by the 31.11 from Players’ Strangfeld Anneke, 16.
There is no long course pool in Uganda but Namutebi and Darren Ssamula, 14, who got silver in the 400 free and 200 individual medley (IM) plus bronze in the 200 free, boosted their confidence when they lit up the Kenya Age Group Championships, which had the same format, at Kasarani in late February.
Namutebi, her brother Tendo Mukalazi and 13-year-old Raphael Sine also went to the short course Cana Zone IV Championships in Malawi last month.
“At the development level – say 14 and below, you do not notice too much difference between our swimmers and South Africa’s,” coach Muzafaru Muwanguzi said.
“The challenges which I personally attribute to inadequate facilities and technical support here, come in at a later age,” Muwanguzi notes.
Getting carried away
He, however, calls for caution in the development of local swimmers and hopes both parents and swimmers do not get carried away with these results. “I also noted that the South Africans do things in a basic way. The level of excitement at the young level is less because they believe the journey to the desired performance at the top level is long. They believe there is no need to drain swimmers too early,” he added.
Can Dolphins or Uganda at large get to this level? “We are doing our best and hope things change. If we get the facilities, we can head that way,” Muwanguzi believes.
ABOUT SWIMMER NAMUTEBI
Exciting. The 13-year-old claimed six gold and one silver medal. She had the best 50m freestyle time (28.85) among all girls that attended the meet.