What you need to know:
- The last time Uganda took part in the Zone III Championships, coach Muzafaru Muwanguzi’s side put up its best show to finish second behind hosts Kenya.
Uganda expects to field 86 swimmers – selected from the recently concluded National Championships – and 11 water polo players in the Cana Zone III Championships that start Thursday in Kampala.
The events, in which team manager Joseph Kabogoza has divided Uganda into two swimming sides of 46 (Team Uganda A) and 40 (Team Uganda B), will take place at Kampala International School of Uganda (Kisu) in Bukoto, while there will also be open water swimming in Entebbe on Sunday.
Kabogoza, however, has to wait to confirm his entries as the athletes must also pass their Covid-19 tests, which are scheduled for today at Uganda Olympic Committee offices in Lugogo, before they can be confirmed and sent to the competition camp at Speke Resort, Munyonyo.
Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) has grappled with Covid-19 so much that the pandemic did not only affect local activities until at least September but also forced the body into asking the Zone III leadership to postpone this competition on at least two occasions.
“At some point we just had to bite the bullet and decided to have it,” USF president Moses Mwase said.
The pandemic continues to ravage as Zone IV’s invited countries like South Africa and Zambia could skip the event.
The other ‘confirmatory test’ to the Uganda team is affordability. Swimmers are expected to part with $500 (about Shs1.8m) for their accommodation and other logistics for the next five days.
The last time Uganda took part in the Zone III Championships, coach Muzafaru Muwanguzi’s side put up its best show to finish second behind hosts Kenya at Kasarani Stadium in 2019.
The two neighbours could again go toe-to-toe as Kenya is also expected to bring in about 40 swimmers.
Tanzania, who pitched camp in Munyonyo as early as Sunday afternoon, have 25 swimmers.
In 2018, Sudan spiced up the championship by holding the competition in a long course (50m) pool and introducing open water swimming. Kenya followed suit with swimming at Kasarani and open water in a man-made pond in Karen.
Uganda will follow Sudan’s lead by introducing water polo matches on Sunday but the swimming returns to a short course (25m) pool, which is also helpful as the World Short Course Swimming Championships take centre stage immediately after in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Cana Zone III Finals
Venue Kisu-Bukoto, Kampala