Super Sam’s hot swimming records

sam_prestigeCould Zimbabwe be seeing a new super-swimmer in the making? The country has already been placed indelibly on the map by the world and Olympic records of Kirsty Coventry and now a diminutive 13-year-old Harare schoolgirl, Samantha Welch, is reaching for the stars. (Pictured: Samantha Welch In action!)


In this seasons opening club gala, at the Harare Les Brown Pool, she started like a firecracker exploding to four national records in the 100m breaststroke. Her time of 1min 16.22sec simultaneously cracked the U14, U15, U16 and U17 records and was inside the qualifying standard for the South African senior national championships in April 2010. Will her coach go for that new horizon? Will the Zimbabwe swimming authorities allow her, as she may be deemed too young?

Two of the records she broke were set in 1995 by Jaqui Forbes, who made history last month by becoming the first Zimbabwean woman to swim the English Channel, recording 12hr 36min.

Malcolm Cocks newly arrived from the UK as Spartans Swim Club head coach was full of praise for the tenacious Sam Welch. “We took a chance and made some very recent changes to her stroke, which was risky as it is usually very difficult to groove a breast stroke change in such a short period. It is the most technical of the four strokes, but she clearly learns quickly, she has talent and trains hard. If she stays healthy she is going to have an excellent season.” Sam missed most of last season with a serious shoulder injury, but in previous years has been at the pinnacle of her age group and has even broken a few Kirsty Coventry marks.

Samantha herself was smiling happily after her swim, but says she has her sights set on bigger things. “I know I need to be quite a lot faster to be in the medals when I swim in South Africa at Level 3 and in Mauritius. I have missed a year of swimming and still have not grown much and it is going to be tough competing against the South Africans. But I’m feeling really good in the water and know I can go quite a bit quicker this season.” She is part of a Zimbabwe junior team – comprising Nicholas Burnett, James Lawson, Sloane Marshall, Kayleigh Graham and Tarryn Rennie – selected for the Junior All Africa Games at the end of October in Mauritius.

Zimbabwe swimming seems to be on the brink of revitalizing and the opening gala in Harare, featuring Mashonaland clubs, featured almost 150 entries the most for many years.

Another of Zimbabwe’s younger swimmers, Robin Lee (10 years old), whose family is now based in Durban, South Africa, looks set to stamp her mark and has claimed three national age group records in the space of one month. She set new marks in the 50m backstroke of 38:44, the 100m backstroke of 1:20.35 and the 50m butterfly of 35:61. The 100m backstroke was particularly impressive and lowered S. Reith’s mark by nearly 4 seconds. The butterfly record was Kirsty Coventry’s, which provides anyone with invaluable bragging rights.

Zimbabwe also has a number of talented senior swimmers who are mostly based overseas on swimming scholarships and have lived in the shadow of superstar Kirsty Coventry. A full team attended the Rome World Championships and whilst they may not have made a mark on that world stage, barring Kirsty, they broke one world and eight national records.

Nicole Horne 100 Freestyle – 56:57

Kirsty Coventry 200 Backstroke – 2.04.81 (world record)

Maxine Heard 50 Breast – 33.70

Nicholas James 200 IM – 2.10.42

Grant Beahan 50 Fly – 24.89

Grant Beahan 100 Fly – 54.89

Timothy Ferris 50 Breast – 29.48

Timothy Ferris 100 Breast – 107.12

As we say in Zimbabwe. Makorokoto!

Post published in: Zimbabwe Sports News

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