Mwagale, Mbanga lead U-11s at swimming nationals

Abigail Mwagale (L) dives into the pool alongside other competitors to face off in the 200m freestyle in the 11-12 years old category during the 6th National Swimming Championships 2021 at Greenhill Academy.Photo by Ismail Kezaala

What you need to know:

Para-swimming picking up: The profile of para-swimming continues to grow. Seals were represented by daughter of former Minister Nyombi Thembo, Condoleza Nakazibwe, who was had her lower left arm amputated after a motor accident on Entebbe Expressway in 2018. The infectious 9-year-old took part in the 50m freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke events but there were more para-swimmers that joined the trailblazing Paralympian Husnah Kukundakwe in the 11 and over events throughout the weekend.

KAMPALA. Altona, Jaguars and Aquatic Academy – Kampala showed that a new order is being established during the first day of the National Championships at Greenhill Academy,  Kibuli, on Friday.

Swimming in the past has been dominated by Dolphins, Seals and Silverfin in all age categories but the pandemic and the lockdowns that came with it affected clubs in different ways.

The struggles of the traditional top three allowed for new prodigies to emerge from the ‘smaller’ clubs on a biting cold and rainy day at Greenhill.

Altona’s Abigail Mwagale, 10, was the catch of the day as she touched first in seven individual events, helped her team win four relays and also grabbed bronze medals in the 50m and 100m backstroke events, which were won by Jaguars’ Zara Mbanga and Altona’s Paula Nabukeera.

The Altona duo was joined by Yeta Magola and seven year old Liora Lumu in the relays.

Abigail Mwagale (L) ready to face off in the 200m freestyle in the 11-12 years old category during the 6th National Swimming Championships 2021 at Greenhill Academy. Photo by Ismail Kezaala

Twins Shalom and Cherie Birungi ensured Dolphins were not just pushed off the park as they put some points on board to set up the club for dominance in the 11 and over age categories that would swim Saturday and Sunday.

But Altona’s dominance continued as Ethan Kunihira and Francis Kisawuzi dragged the club to respectable finishes even when Aquatic tried to fight back through Kigundu Ssango. Jerome Matsiko, of Flash, also established himself as the undisputed freestyle and breaststroke prince.

“We did not expect to dominate this much but we are happy because we trained and sacrificed a lot as a team,” Mwagale said.

Her coach Erick Kisero believes their Friday Altona-BSK (British School of Kampala) League set his swimmers in competition mode and eliminated any jitters that could have affected his young swimmers.

For a coach, who fielded only one swimmer – Rachael Galinda - in the 2016 nationals, the growth to 42 competitive swimmers in six years cannot be underestimated.

Inter-club swimming -10 & under events results
50m breaststroke:

G: Abigail Mwagale (Altona)    41.47sec
B: Jerome Matsiko (Flash)    44.62
100m backstroke:
G: Paula Nabukeera (Altona)    1:24.03
B: Kigundu Ssango (Aquatic)    1:32.28
50m freestyle
G: Abigail Mwagale (Altona)     30.87
B: Jerome Matsiko (Flash)     32.87
100m butterfly
G: Abigail Mwagale (Altona)     1:16.33
B: Ethan Kunihira (Altona)     1:28.78
50m backstroke
G: Zara Mbanga (Jaguars)     37.76
B: Kigundu Ssango (Aquatic)     40.51
100m freestyle
G: Abigail Mwagale (Altona)     1:10.15
B: Jerome Matsiko (Flash)     1:14.18
100m individual medley
G: Abigail Mwagale (Altona)    1:20.37
B: Kigundu Ssango (Aquatic)    1:28.44
100m breaststroke
G: Abigail Mwagale (Altona)    1:33.68
B: Jerome Matsiko (Flash)    1:43.06