15 February 2019

Namibia: Swimming Takes Centre Stage

Swimming will take centre stage in Windhoek and surroundings for the next few days when more than 450 swimmers from 14 SADC nations compete in the Cana Zone 4 Swimming Championships from Saturday till next Wednesday.

The Cana Zone I4 Championships began in 2000 and was originally called the Sub-Saharan Competition.

In 2009, the event was renamed the Cana Zone 3 and 4 Invitational Swimming Competition and in 2013, in accordance with the African Union Sports Council Region 5 strategy and directives, it became the Cana Zone 4 Swimming Championships.

The competition is open to athletes 11 years and over and this year will also double as an official qualification event for the Fina Junior World Championships in Budapest in August, and the Senior World Championships, in Gwangju, Korea in July.

There will also be a masters section which will also serve as a qualifier for the World Masters Championships in Gwangju.

Besides the 12 Zone 4 countries participating (Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe), the federation has also invited Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania from Zone 3 to compete.

The swimmers will compete in three separate disciplines - the swimming section which takes place at the Olympia municipal pool; the open water swimming division at Oanob Dam outside Rehoboth, and the water polo division at the Western Suburbs pool in Katutura.

The championships start at 09h00 on Saturday at the Olympia Pool with the swimming discipline which is the largest with 267 swimmers scheduled to compete in close to 2 000 events over five days.

Namibia has entered an A and a B team for the swimming championships and will be hoping for a big medal haul on home soil. South Africa, however, will start as the favourites, while Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Uganda, Kenya, Botswana and Zambia have also entered strong teams.

The swimmers will compete in four age group categories consisting of 12 and under, 13-14, 15-16 and 17 and over, while the masters section is for swimmers over 25 years.

The action moves to Oanob Dam on Sunday, where the open water swimming championships will be held.

Here, swimmers will compete over longer distances ranging from 500m for swimmers in the 12-13 year age group to 5km for swimmers in the 16-18 year and open age groups.

The swimming championships continue next Monday through to Wednesday when the final medal presentation will be held after the morning session.

The water polo championships will be held concurrently at the Western Suburbs Pool, where South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia will compete in men and women's categories.

At the Cana Zone 4 championships in Bulawayo two years ago Namibia fared very well winning a total of 21 medals.

Then the 12-year-old Mikah Burger was the star performer, winning more than half of the medals (nine gold, one silver and one bronze), while 16-year-old Ronan Wantenaar won three gold and two bronze medals.

The 15-year-old Ju-Ane Oberholzer and the 14-year-old Martin Oosthuizen also finished amongst the medals.

All these swimmers will start amongst the favourites to win medals in their respective age groups, while several others will also fancy their chances of podium places.

They include the 13-year-old Jose Canjulo who was in fantastic form at the Western Province Championships two months ago when he won all 12 the events that he competed in.

Some of Namibia's other potential medallists include Oliver Durand, Ellis Quinn, Daniella Mostert and Brynn Kinnaird in the 12 and under category; Mikah Burger and Trisha Mutumbulua (13-14); Heleni Stergiadis and Tiana Esslinger (15-16); and Jodave Cioccolanti, Rene Viljoen and Zune Weber in the 17 and over category.

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