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Swimming is drowning in Southern Africa

by ZwemZa on October 8th, 2020

Kirsty Coventry (the herald)

Today, only South Africa sends swimmers to compete at global level. No more do we see swimmers from Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, countries that used to be fairly visible in the sport.

The problem, posits Windhoek-based professional coach Michael Chikomo, is depreciation of existing infrastructure and lack of investment in new facilities, a dearth in grassroots development, and low corporate participation.

“Why we were not producing swimmers to compete on the global platform could be attributed to a variety of factors. The three most notable factors are lack of grassroots swimming development programmes within schools from kindergarten to university level; inadequate swimming infrastructure development in schools and residential areas; and very low corporate and social investment to grow, expose and expand the sport,” he explains.

“In the whole region, we had a talent pool of less than 100 swimmers at the World Championships last year, with South Africa contributing more than two thirds of the swimmer’s. South Africa has a grassroots swimming development programme from the time one starts kindergarten until university level. Most of their schools have swimming infrastructure readily accessible and available, making it easier to start and develop interest in the sport from a young age.

“Their support structures are solid and immense. Their government, through the Sports Ministry, is constantly partnering with the corporate world to pull in investments to run these developmental programmes.”

Chikomo says other governments in the region should start becoming more involved in swimming.

“Many SADC member states lack adequate swimming infrastructure in schools and suburbs. The infrastructure available is mostly available at sports clubs whose fees are beyond the reach of the vast majority of citizens.

“Not all schools and universities have the infrastructure in place and most of those that have do not have a tangible developmental programme to factor in proper development and expansion of the sport.”

The Southern Times

From → African News

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