Namutebi delivers first Cana seniors medal

Kirabo Namutebi of Gators Swim Club Kampala doing the breast stroke during the Seventh Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) national age group championships at Greenhill Academy this year. PHOTO/ISMAIL KEZAALA

What you need to know:

The medal, Uganda's first at this level, comes at the back of a busy period for Namutebi and her brother Tendo Mukalazi - who have competed in Hungary, Uganda, England, Turkey and Tunisia in the last two months.


Kirabo Namutebi erased any fears of fatigue by clocking a 26.01 seconds national record (NR) in the women's 50m freestyle to clinch silver at the Africa Senior Swimming Championships in Tunisia.


The medal, Uganda's first at this level, comes at the back of a busy period for Namutebi and her brother Tendo Mukalazi - who have competed in Hungary, Uganda, England, Turkey and Tunisia in the last two months.


"I am really happy with my performance, the new NR and I am always proud to represent my country," Namutebi said in the aftermath of her fifth continental medal - the other four (two gold and two silver) came at the Africa Juniors in 2019 (Tunisia) and 2021 (Ghana).


Just like last year when Caitlin De Lange clocked 26.18 to deny Namutebi her 2019 gold defence, the first position this year was again taken by another South African - Inge Weidemann who clocked 25.75.


Before globe-trotting over the last two months, Namutebi had also been to the Cana Zone IV Championships and U-18 World Secondary Schools Games in Normandy, France in April and May respectively.


At the World Championships in Hungary, she clocked 26.26, which was her personal best time (PB) from last year but her best performance this year had come earlier in Normandy with 26.12.


"The training load before Hungary had been huge so I was not expecting a lot," Namutebi said as she recounted her back to back events en route to Tunisia.


Perfomance breakdown 

After Hungary, she competed at the Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) National Club Championships, the only short course galas she has done this year, guiding Gators to the title but adding to her load.


At the Nationals, she competed in 11 different races clocking a combined distance of 1900m. So it was no surprise that her time at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham floated to 26.54 and then 26.42 at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Konya, which came with a silver medal too.


But when you give Namutebi so many chances to prove herself, she definitely has to crack one of them.


She first showed intent on Tuesday by getting into the finals of 50m breaststroke with a 33.93 and finishing 5th overall with 33.75. She then got into the 50m free final on Wednesday on the back of a 26.46 in the preliminaries that morning.


Troubled team

Coach Latif Kajumbi's team has, however, been affected in so many ways as Mukalazi had to shake off sickness from Konya.


Mukalazi was with teammate Fadhil Saleh in the men's 50m free and both clocked 24.17 and 24.32 respectively.


Saleh's training prior was affected by the South African winter but he posted 55.44 in the 100m freestyle on Saturday while Mukalazi also kept within PB range in the 50m backstroke and 50m breast clocking 28.23 and 30.46 respectively.


The swimmers could do with a well earned break but will return to work soon as they bid to compete at the December 13-18 World Championships (short course) in Melbourne, Australia.


KIRABO NAMUTEBI

50m freestyle performance - 2022

*Cana Zone IV (April) - 26.45

*U-18 World Sec. Sch. Games (May) - 26.12 (heats), 26.26 (finals)

*World Championships (June) - 26.26

*Commonwealth Games (July) - 26.54

*Islamic Solidarity Games (August) - 26.99 (heats), 26.42 (finals)

*Africa Seniors (August) - 26.46 (heats), 26.01 (finals)

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