THE Senior National Swimming Championships got underway yesterday with participants taking part in the 400m freestyle event finals. The event saw defending champions, Mashonaland, dominating most of the age groups as they aim to retain their title with James Lawson winning the 17-and-over age group in 4minutes36.10seconds.
He was followed by Matabeleland's Ashby Tink who finished in 4mins 58.98s and Frank Lang settled for third position in 5mins 12.83s.
Lawson said he is using the gala to prepare for the Level Three gala scheduled for South Africa next month.
In the girls' competition, Natasha Lawson from Mashonaland was first in 5mins 4.17s while Natalie De Chassart of Mashonaland Country District was second in 5mins 20.59s.
Her teammate Emily Hawgood came third in 6mins 1.80s.
In the 15 to 16-year-olds age Aiden Burnett came first in 4mins 49.21s to win the title while Dylan Steyl finished second in 4mins 59.3s and Liam Burnett was third in 5mins 8.9s.
All the three swimmers are from Mashonaland.
Mieke Koen of Matabeleland senior team finished first in the girls' section in 4mins 54.90seconds and her teammate Jessica Hammond was third in 5mins 20.42s.
Sarah Hawgood of Mashonaland came second in 5mins 19.22s.
Koen said she is hoping to get her qualifying time for the Level three gala in South Africa.
"At this level I am trying to get my qualifying time for Level three to go for a competition in Johannesburg.
I have been training very hard. If we compare with South Africa we are a little bit behind but we are keeping up.
"I can see a lot of new faces, new swimmers which is good," said Koen.
Onorati Chase from Mashonaland won the 13 to 14-year-olds age group when he came first in 4mins 55.84s while Luke Van Breda was second in 5mins 7.54s.
He was followed by Lian Davis in 5mins 15.37s.
Matabeleland's Courtney McAllister finished first in 5mins 20.8s to win the girls' competition while Melissa Watt came second in 5mins 33.59s and in third place was Jessica McAllister in 5mins 39.25s.
The 12 and under age group boys title went Bruce Chiang of Mashonaland who finished first in 5mins 45.40s and his teammate Jordan Cowley was second in 5mins 53.51s.
Grant Smith of Matabeleland settled for third place in 6mins 4.78 s.
In the girls section it was an all Mashonaland affair with Jordynn Davis finishing first in 5mins 43.55s while Hollie Stander was second in 5mins 45.93s and in third place was Zoe Day who finished in 5mins 51.27s.
Head of swimming, Lorna Riley said she is happy with the turnout as most of the provinces have improved in their numbers.
"I think the entries are up this year. We have an improvement amongst the provinces and I am happy with that. I think looking on tonight's (yesterday) competition it's going to be a good competition. We had some good times coming up and we are happy that provinces from outside Mashonaland have improved their performance.