Swimmers relish open water experience

Tuesday September 3 2019

Jubilant. Competitors set off for the 1.5km

Jubilant. Competitors set off for the 1.5km open lake water swimming competition during the 3rd Fina World Aquatics Day Celebrations on 31 August at Aero Beach, Entebbe. Photo by Ismail Kezaala.  


About 35 swimmers bore the brunt of the waters at Aero Beach – Entebbe, where Uganda Swimming Federation launched open water swimming on Saturday as part of their celebrations to mark the Fina World Aquatics Day.
The celebrations, which attracted over 250 people, commenced with a 3km march from Entebbe market to the beach and USF were blessed with the presence of kickboxing legend Moses Golola.
In the water, USF swimmers were joined by marines from UPDF and police. Among the conventional swimmers, only Adnan Kabuye – fresh from the World Junior Championships in Budapest – had competed in an open water event before.
With his experience of swimming 5km in Lake Boukourdane, Algeria at the Africa Juniors last year, it was no surprise that he beat all men over a distance of 1,500m in about 16 minutes.
Olivia Nalwadda was slightly faster than Rachael Galinda in the women’s category as they both swum back to the shore in a little over 34 minutes.
“We had some good training in the pool on Friday,” Galinda explained. However, they found out that the real experience was more taxing.
“You have to swim the two strokes facing the sides as though you’re doing the usual freestyle. Then for the third stroke you face upfront like we do in water polo. That cycle continues till you finish.
It should have been easy but the waves make it a bit challenging. At least for the first 750m we could swim under or with them but when we were swimming back to the shore, it got a bit complicated because we had no control over the waves,” she explained.
Fortunately, for USF, the experience is one Galinda and many others are willing to try again.
The federation went a notch further to ensure the safety of the water. Aero Beach was rendered Bilharzia-free by the Ministry of Health’s National Microbiology Laboratory last month and USF will hope to use the venue for a national competition next year.
In Entebbe, the Uganda Lifesaving Federation taught water dwellers about safety and first aid on water bodies while Ministy of Health’s Moses Arinaitwe and USF’s Dr Aya Nakitanda (also a former Olympian) sensitized masses about Bilharzia and also carried out free testing.