Still in search of the next Kirsty Coventry

coventry_HARARE - Zimbabwe Aquatic Union president, Neil Bradshaw, realises it will be a steep mountain to climb for the country to produce another star to conquer international pools the Kirsty Coventry (pictured) way.

Coventry hogged the limelight and emerged the countrys well-respected ambassador on the international swimming scene. Her road to stardom began in her home-country, with no state-of-the-art training facilitie,s but only the support of her parents as the major driving force.

The ZAU boss acknowledges the local swimmers hard work in proving a force to reckon with continentally but said it may be a mission impossible for Zimbabwe to nurture another Coventry.

We do not have any year-round training facilities not a single indoor pool. Yes we do punch above our weight class; we are seeing more of our swimming athletes reaching international standards. From that perspective we are growing. But it is one thing to produce swimmers who are world ranked and quite another to be the world number one. I dont see that happening again in a very long time, he declared.

One of the worlds swimming powerhouses, Australia, has 1100 swimming clubs with 90 000 registered swimmers while Zimbabwe has 300 registered swimmers from just 11 clubs.

According to Bradshaw, relying on scholarships appears the only way out to achieving the birth of another swimming sensation.

We have an extremely good sports structure and competition system and we encourage our top athletes to achieve the necessary level to be awarded foreign scholarships, where they have access to year-round training with top coaches and top facilities. Typically this tends to be in the USA, but we have swimmers in South Africa as well. It is incredible that we have a current World Champion.

In the absence of substantial corporate support, Bradshaw applauded the swimmers families for investing in their childrens talent.

The greatest driving force is undoubtedly the parents. But having a child go on a national tour depending on team size and location costs typically $2 000 to $3 000. Not many parents can afford that, especially when a top junior swimmer can be attending two or three international competitions per year. That is our major challenge.

Post published in: Zimbabwe Sports News

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