Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
STINGRAYS Swimming Academy dominated the 2019 Matabeleland Swimming Championships by amassing 1 397 points to win this year’s competition that ended at City Pool on Sunday.
The two-year old academy was dominant in the boys’ category, raking in 972 points to secure pole position, while the girls managed 369 points to finish fourth in their category.
Barracudas were second overall with 1 018 points after winning the girls’ section with 608 points.
The five-day championship was used by the Matabeleland Swimming Board to select a team that will represent the province at the National Championships scheduled for the same venue in January 2020.
Three records also tumbled, with Stingrays’ Tichatonga Makaya (13) eclipsing his own 50m butterfly national record of 28.70 seconds to set a new one of 28.37 seconds. His clubmates Khaya Vimba (12) and Nathan Chibva (10) broke the Matabeleland records in the 12-year and 10-year categories in the 50m breaststroke.
Vimba swam the distance in 37.13 seconds to better Cory Werret’s 37.32 seconds record set in 2016, while Chibva touched the pad in 43.31 seconds to smash Jamie Isemonger’s 43.64 seconds record that had stood since 2007.
Stingrays boys proved too strong for the field, hauling several medals.
Dylan Lee (15) clinched the boys’ 400m individual medley gold medal in 5:50.97 minutes followed by Penguins’ Nathan Ngwenya (15) in 5:58.33 minutes, with Stingray’s Vuyo Ndlovu (15) coming third in 6:02.20 minutes.
Stingrays made a clean sweep in the boys’ 17 years and over 400m individual medley, with Denilson Cyprianos coming first in 5:27.67 minutes. Quintin Tayala was second (5:42.26 minutes) and Joash McKonie finished third in 5:55.56 minutes.
Cyprianos and McKonie were also first and second in the 200m freestyle in 2:07.58 minutes and 2:07.92 minutes respectively, while Lee was first in his age group, completing the splash in 2:19.61 minutes.
In the girls’ section, Timea Schultz (14) displayed a star showing, winning gold medals in all the races she took part in, which include 200m freestyle (2:24.41 minutes), 50m butterfly (32.72 seconds), 400m individual medley (5:54.60 minutes), 200m backstroke (2:40.12 minutes), 50m backstroke (38.54 seconds), 400m freestyle (5:13.62 minutes) and 1 500m freestyle (21:39.58 minutes)
Stingrays coach Eddie Cyprianos was ecstatic after lifting the championship.
“I’m very impressed by the showing they gave. They swam very well and almost the entire team had personal best times, which is an indication of great progress on their part. It clearly shows we are heading in the right direction,” Cyprianos.
“The up-and-coming juniors also showed a lot of promise, posting extremely impressive results. The fact we completed the last two days of the championships without some of our top swimmers who had to attend a polo event in Harare and still won is a sign of the hard work young swimmers are putting in,” he said.
Crusaders were third on the combined teams’ scores table with 691 points, Penguins were fourth with 670, while The Falcons attained fifth place with 647 points and School of Swimming were sixth with 280 points. Kubu were seventh with 113 points, Crocs were second from last with 20 points, while Zambesi Tigers anchored the table with 13 points.
The championships had to be extended by an extra session to account for the increased number of swimmers taking part, as more took part in the long-distance events that saw 57 swimmers competing in the 1 500m event, with 45 swimmers in the 800m and 400m events. The individual medley attracted 26 swimmers, while only 17 took part in the 200m butterfly.
Matabeleland Swimming Board chairperson Megan Nesbit said they were happy with the swimmers’ performances, as most of them achieved qualifying times for international events such as CANA Zone 4 championships and the South African Junior Nationals.
“The championships went really well and most swimmers were on top of their game as most of them got qualifying times for several events that include CANA, SA Juniors as well as SA Level 2 and 3 Galas next year. The final selection of the Matabeleland team that will do duty at the national championships will be done on Wednesday,” Nesbit said. – @rasmthembo