THE swimming season got underway over the weekend with Harare Amateur Swimming hosting their first gala at Les Brown Swimming Pool.
The competition attracted 98 swimmers from Highlands, Sharks, Spartans, Dorado, The Falcons, Stingrays Swimming Academy and Pirates Zimbabwe.
Other provinces are expected to hold competitions soon.
The gala gave swimmers the opportunity to compete for times and assess their preparedness for the season.
Some of the swimmers who turned up for Saturday’s competition include promising stars Donata Katai and Vhenekai Dhemba from Sharks, Highlands’ Mikayla Makwabarara and Limbikani Kalipengule.
Katai competed in the 15-to-16 years group, 50m backstroke and breaststroke, coming first in both events in 31.13secs and 38.35secs respectively.
Dhemba was the first to touch the wall in the girls 13-to-14 years, 50m breaststroke, in 40.03secs and settled for second place in the 50m backstroke behind Spartans’ Charlotte Martell with a time of 34.56secs.
In the boys’ 12-and-Under age-group, 200m freestyle, Kalipengule of Highlands came first in 2mins 31.48secs.
He was also first in the 100m butterfly in the same age-group.
Makwabarara was the first to touch the wall in the 11-to-12 years 50m freestyle in 30.29secs.
With the likes of Kalipengule, Makwabarara, Benjamin Rorke and Mazvita Zuze shaking off some time, from their previous performances, Highlands coach Michael Ranken was full of praise for his swimmers
“I think it was a good gala. The most important thing was the mindset of the swimmers,” he said.
“When you have swimmers training, not knowing if they are going to compete or not, and then when they get to the gala, they come to the party.
“They show off the fighting spirit, they show off that they can do even better. They managed to shake off time, they managed to get their personal best times. So, it was a good thing for us to have a gala.
“I would like to commend them for the hard work they put in and they shocked most of the people, in terms of the level of fitness.
“There is still a long way to go because we are just starting the season.”
Spartans club representative, Susan Zevgolis, said it was pleasing to see swimmers overcoming some of the challenges, such as limited time for training, due to lack of venues to compete in Saturday’s event.
“In spite of challenges we have been facing, with regards to restricted training times and limited training venues, which has meant little preparation time, we had surprising good swims, from most of our members, on Saturday.
“We are very proud of how our swimmers performed and how they adapted to the new regulations introduced.
“Now that the season has officially begun, we expect a number of our other swimmers to now register for forthcoming galas,” said Zevgolis.
Zevgolis also commended the Harare Amateur Swimming for their efforts in putting what she described as a successful gala.
HAS public relations officer, Shingirai Mtetwa, said with, at least over 90 swimmers attending Saturday’s competition, it was encouraging and a good signal for the season.
The next big event is the National Sprint Gala scheduled for October.