OUR tour around Zimbabwe has come to an end.
The tour was made possible because the companies that came on board, not only understood the
importance of our youth but the importance of doing something about it. Thank you to our main sponsor Econet Wireless as well as Croco Motors and African Sun.
Zimbabwe has eight provinces with two cities (Harare and Bulawayo) with provincial status. It took us 15 days to cover just over 2 700km and reach all 10 provinces. We were able to visit 22 schools that in turn allowed other schools to send their representatives.
In the end we were able to directly reach about 12 000 school children. These pupils and their teachers will in turn be able to share the possibility of becoming great with their families, friends, pupils and schools. After seeing the passion and positivity in these pupils and their teachers, I have no doubt the indirect reach will be far greater and very widespread.
The nature of this tour was the first of its kind in Zimbabwe. "Inspiring our youth to become their own heroes" came about because I never had accessible role models growing up. I realise after this tour that what we did was far more important than just being accessible: we gave these kids hope, we gave these kids the possibility to dream, we gave them the inspiration to aim high and believe in themselves.
I have had so many messages of support and I would like to thank everyone for their continued encouragement in what I do, in and out of the water. I have had a request from a family in the US that would like to donate some school supplies to a certain primary school. I have had a father thank me because his daughter wanted to quit swimming but now she is going to continue.
It is these knock-on effects that we never thought might come from our tour around Zimbabwe. We were only hoping to find those few people that will believe in what I told them and will continue to persevere in reaching their dreams.
The last two schools we visited were Donnybrook Primary School in Mabvuku and Oriel Girls High in Chisipite. It was evident in these two schools and throughout the tour that it does not matter what gender you are, what religion you follow or where you come from, we all want the same thing - to become better.
My message to our children was one that was passed on to me from my mum and dad, "work hard, persevere, and believe in yourself."
You have to work hard and if you want to succeed you have to continuously work hard. Success does not happen overnight and this is why you need to believe in yourself. People will doubt you, people will laugh at your dreams, and people will try and influence you negatively. In everything you are going through, in everything you will go through, you have to remain committed to the belief that you can do it.
Kirsty Coventry is Zimbabwe's two-time Olympic champion swimmer in the women's 200m backstroke event and is a winner of seven Olympic Games medals - two golds, four silvers and one bronze - which she won at the 2004 Athens Games in Greece and 2008 Beijing Games in China.