Dolphins, Jaguars show might at Junior Gala

One big team. Dolphins boys joined by their female colleagues to celebrate the hosts' triumph in the boys' category of the Fifth Dolphins Junior Championships at Akamwesi Mall on Sunday. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

Overall, the gala kept a tight points' collection policy, where only swimmers that hit qualification entry times for the championship were awarded points.

Jaguar Swim Club sensation Zara Marie Mbanga was in red hot form at the weekend's Dolphins Junior Championship held at Akamwesi Mall's Loli Park in Kyebando.

The two-day event attracted a little over 270 swimmers in three age groups: 7 and under, 8-9 and 10-11 years.

Mbanga's times in all five individual races were the best of any swimmer, boys included, at the gala and fetched her the maximum 45 points. 

The 11 year old did not even have to engage full gears as she clocked 37.31 seconds in the 50m breaststroke, 36.46 in the 50m backstroke, 2:50.63 in the 200m individual medley, 30.94 in the 50m freestyle and 34.41 in 50m butterfly.

The latter was the only event where Mbanga beat her entry time and it was probably because she worried about what times Dolphins' duo Mackyla Ssali (37.16) and Crystal Ssemanda (37.79) would make.

Mbanga's presence also ensured Jaguar was on the podium for all four relays in the 10-11 years age group. Unfortunately, Jaguar were pipped to the overall girls' trophy by Aquatic Academy Kampala which had 235 total points - 38 of those from Mishna Lubega, 7.

Jaguar also had dominant swimmers like Mbanga's brother Giovanni Cruz in the 8-9 boys' age group and another rising star in Austin Wanyama, who won four of his five races in the 7 and under age group.

Aquatic also had one of the dominant boys in Kigundu Ssango, 11, who collected 43 points - only letting up maximum race points in the 50m free (32.74) to Torpedoes' winner Aiden Immelman with 32.00. 

But the overall boys' trophy went to hosts Dolphins (190 points) owing to the collective efforts of Jethro Emejeit, Baraka Kaumi, Malachi Ssali and their relay teams among others.

Tight points system

Overall, the gala kept a tight points' collection policy, where only swimmers that hit qualification entry times for the championship were awarded points.

"We want to set a standard which will go a long way in showing coaches where to improve.

But the qualifying times were also fair as they were determined by what the swimmers have been doing in the friendlies we had with various clubs over the past months.

The swimmers who did not hit the set times, had their times recorded and shown to them but did not contribute points to their teams," Dolphins coach Tonnie Kasujja, said.

Ugandan swimming is currently grappling with coaches that send large teams in search of points. Unfortunately, some of these teams have undercooked swimmers that struggle with technique or to complete their races and are usually fielded to please their paying parents.


Aquatic Academy - 235 points 
Jaguar - 195
Dolphins - 127
Otters - 124
Sailfish - 85

Dolphins - 190
Jaguar - 144
Sailfish - 137.5
Torpedoes - 118
Aquatic Academy - 111.5

7& Under

G: Mishna Lubega (Aquatic) - 38 points
B: Austin Wanyama (Jaguar) - 43 
8-9 Years
G: Nisha Pearl Najjuma (Otters) - 43
B: Giovanni Cruz Mbanga (Jaguar) - 37
10-11 Years
G: Zara Marie Mbanga (Jaguar) - 45
B: Kigundu Ssango (Aquatic) - 43