The swimming torch-bearers for Zimbabwe set to participate in the Africa Youth Games in Botswana from May 22 to 31 are looking beyond the games. So far Zimbabwe’s top swimmer since independence is seven-time Olympic medallist Kirsty Coventry. The current crop, however, has great promise if their dominance on the local scene is anything to refer to.
Zimbabwe is sending a team of eight to the second edition of the Africa Youth Games to be graced by swimmers born between January 1, 1996 and December 31, 1999.
Familiar names in the discipline, brothers Aidan and Chase Onorati, Ratidzo Mutangadura and Natasha Lawson made it on the provisional list recently announced by Zoc.
The South Africa-based trio of Roxane Brown, Peter Wetzlar and Chad Idensohn as well as Australia-based Robyn Lee complete the list.
Training in the hands of Malcolm Cocks, an experienced coach from UK’s Amateur Swimming Association, also offers great confidence that the swimmers will qualify for the Nanjing Games in August.
For the Onorati brothers, Aidan and Chase it is first a competition against each other before they take the contest to the international stage.
“He (Chase) uses me and I use him to pace ourselves especially during races. Because we swim at the same pace we look for each other and see how we can progress during races.
“In Zimbabwe I think I am at the highest level and when we went down to SA the competition was extremely difficult. But I think with more training I will get there because at the young ages they (swimmers) are normally really good. And you start catching up to them as they grow older,” said Aidan, who will be turning 16 years.
The older Onorati holds personal best times of 32 seconds in the 50m breaststroke style and 1.14.14 for 100m. He swam a personal best of 28.2 seconds for the 50m butterfly style and 1.02.96 seconds for the 100m version.
“Being in the team is a fantastic achievement. I do not think it will be that hard because in the finals only two people per country make the final. So I am going to aim for quite a few medals,” said Aidan who like Chase also came through swimming club, Pirates.
Having been on tour, the older of the Onorati brothers believes his training has picked up as he feels himself getting fit in the water.
Aidan said the Africa Youth Games are the beginning of a journey for Zimbabwean swimmers to compete at the Olympic Games set for Brazil in 2016 as well as editions to follow.
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