WITH several swimmers pushing for qualification to next year’s World Championships, Zimbabwe Swimming have said they will be looking for another competition for their athletes to compete in as part of their preparations.
Ellina Mhlanga Senior Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe had three swimmers competing at the World Aquatics Swimming World Cup in Budapest, Hungary at the weekend.
Paige Van der Westhuizen, Benjamin Rorke and Liam O’Hara represented the country.
The World Championships are scheduled for February next year in Doha, Qatar.
The meet will serve as a qualifying event for Paris 2024 Olympic Games and Zimbabwe are hoping they can push their swimmers to try and get the times for both competitions.
Zimbabwe Swimming chairperson Zanele Nkomazana said they are looking for another competition between now and December for all their top swimmers including those based outside the country before the selection for the World Championships.
“I must say Paige did very well, Ben excellent job. I think O’Hara found the going tough. But the two youngsters did extremely well, better than what we thought.
“These youngsters did very well, extremely well. I mean Paige came down from 1.00.12 to 59.20. That doesn’t happen for a senior swimmer but that was a good time. Same as Ben swimming a 23, it was his first appearance at a world event.
“So we are going to actually look for another competition in December for all our high elite athletes, whether you are in America or you are in the UK we are trying to do a trial gala for all of them before we select Doha World Championships,” said Nkomazana.
Van der Westhuizen posted a personal best in 100m freestyle when completing the race in 59.20seconds. Her entry time was 1.00.12.
She also improved her times in the 50m freestyle and 200m compared to the entry times.
Rorke managed to take off some time from his entry times as well in some of the events including in the 50m freestyle where he swam 23.89 seconds compared to his entry time of 24.91.
Nkomazana admitted although their swimmers have been reducing their times, they still have to put in more work if they are to be in a position to compete within the times for the World Championships.
“We are still struggling. We are coming down but we are not there, times are reducing but we haven’t gotten (there yet).
“But let’s see what they do…our swimmers are hungry for it. Let’s see what they do between now and December. Early December that’s when we will close and select,” said Nkomazana.
Barney O’Hara, who travelled with the team to Hungary believes the exposure at the World Cup will have a positive effect on the swimmers preparations.
“It will be big. Competing against the world’s top athletes can only have great benefit.
“These top World Aquatic events give our athletes huge experience and just being present watching two world records being broken in two days is a huge stimulant to our top athletes,” said O’Hara.
Some of the hopefuls for next year’s major events are United Sates-based Nomvula Mjimba, Donata Katai and Liam Davis.
In the event that they fail to meet the times, they can only send four athletes – two males and two females.