Junior swimmers off to African Championships
BY CITY KEAGAKWA
A strong team of 11 athletes will represent Botswana at the CANA 15th African Junior Swimming Championships slated for 6th to the 10th of December 2023 in Mauritius.
Considered a springboard for the development of future local aquatic champions, the African Junior Aquatic Championships will feature some of the country’s top age-group swimmers.
In September this year, Botswana Swimming Sport Association (BSSA) sent at least four young swimmers, Melodi Saleshando, Mmusi Matthews, Gaamangwe Junior Keitsile, and Tumo Matija to Netanya, Israel, for the World Aquatics Junior Championships.
The quartet forms part of the current group who travelled to Mauritius and will once more be dipping their toes in the water over the next few days as they look for continental supremacy.
Despite financial challenges facing the local swimming mother-body, parents of the swimmers made ends meet to self-fund the trip to Mauritius—a move that has been warmly welcomed by BSSA.
“The issue of funding is a challenge, what we get from Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) is not enough but we are grateful for the commitment and support shown by parents, the parents of all the 11 members of the team self-funded their kids to go and compete at the games,” Public relations officer of BSSA Gwen Harry told Sun Sport. Ahead of the trip to Netanya, BSSA received financial assistance from Diamond Trading Company Botswana (DTC) to the tune of P100, 000. Harry further shared that they continue to engage with possible partners and sponsors to come on board and contribute to the development of swimming in the country. She added that local swimmers continue to represent the country well in the global space, in Netanya all the
four swimmers registered new personal best (PB) times. Heading off to Mauritius, BSSA have not set any medal targets for the team but have however once more challenged swimmers to register new improved times. “We are exposing them to the regional and continental competition, as you may be aware, the likes of South Africa are very much advanced in the sport, so it is important to always challenge ourselves against them. We haven’t set any targets for the team, we just want them to improve on their current PBs and we are confident that, at sea level they should register fast times,” Harry revealed. Swimming at high altitude improves stamina and endurance of athletes, according to the team’s coach Craig Rouse who told local media as the team departed for Mauritius on Monday. The BSSA mouthpiece expressed her confidence on the team to do well noting that the swimming gala sessions that the local clubs have been organizing have provided the swimmers with the necessary preparations to compete at the African Aquatic Junior Championships. The team comprises of four (4) females; Kyra Harry, Melodi Saleshando, Jieun Chang and Yunsuh Chang while the male group is made of, Tumo Matija, Khumo Newman, Khalil Sethi, Rayhan Khonat, Ntsika Mothibatsela, Mmusi Matthews and Gaamangwe Keitsile.