The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Mashonaland Leading the Way

THE National Senior Swimming championships continued yesterday with title holders Mashonaland leading on the rankings with a combined team score of 784. The defending champions are making clear their intention of retaining the title and yesterday saw their swimmers dominating most of the events with the boys' captain, Nicholas Burnett, winning the 17-and-over 200m freestyle.

James Lawson claimed a silver and Sloane Marshall walked away with a bronze medal making it an all-Mashonaland affair.

Lawson went on to win a gold medal in the 400m individual medley.

Natasha Lawson, James's sister, also turned on a remarkable performance as she had scooped four gold and one silver medal by yesterday afternoon in the 17-and-over age group.

Natasha won her first medal on Thursday night in the 400m freestyle and yesterday she continued with her good performance claiming a gold medal in the 200m freestyle before clinching another gold in the 100m breaststroke.

She went on to win a gold medal in the girls 15 and over 400m individual medley and a silver in the 100m butterfly. Speaking soon after her 100m butterfly event, the 16-year-old said she was excited by her performance and is hoping to continue with her winning ways.

"It's been very interesting and it's very inspiring. I have won four golds and I just won silver. I am feeling happy.

"It's been a good competition so far and I have done some best times. I am competing in all events and it's very difficult but I am managing," said Lawson.

Bruce Chiang, who put up a good show in the Mashonaland Junior championships early this month, was also on a high as he won three gold medals in the 400m freestyle, 200m freestyle and 50m backstroke.

The 11-year-old, who was set to compete in the 100m butterfly event late yesterday, said he expecting more medals.

"I have won three gold medals so far. I am just getting ready for my 100m butterfly and I am aiming to get another gold. I am happy and expecting to win more medals.

"The competition has been okay, the boys are starting to peak so I will see if I can try and also be on top," said Chiang. Chase Onorati also claimed three gold medals and said he is enjoying the gala. "It's been great, the race is kind of hard. I got one of my Level three time last night (Thursday) and I am enjoying it.

'It's a great experience to meet other swimmers," Onorati said.

Hollie Stander won two medals yesterday in the girls 12-and-under 200m freestyle and 50m backstroke respectively.

Matabeleland were on second position with 342 points as the swimmers also put up a good show with Mieke Koen continuing with her winning ways when she scooped two gold medals in the girls' 15 to 16-year-olds age group 200m freestyle and in the 100m breaststroke.

Her teammate, Courtney McAllister, had won two gold medals in the 200m freestyle and 100m breaststroke in girls 13 to 14-year-olds age group by yesterday afternoon.

Mashonaland District Club were on third place with 98 points while Manicaland had 20 points on fourth position. Midlands were bottom of the table with 19 points, however, the teams were set to compete in the 100m butterfly and the 400m freestyle last night.

The gala continues today with the official opening scheduled for this afternoon and will be graced by swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry.

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