Uganda’s Archievements In Swimming By Far
By Emmanuel Sekago
Looking back over the last four years there is a growing sense of hope that swimming continues to grow in Uganda despite a number of challenges.
Their 2015-2020 strategic plan continues to be their guiding compass. To this end in the last four years in line with their strategy, they have been able to run their calendar that had national, regional and international events.
Swimming continues to grow in both primary and secondary schools with 40 and counting having swimming programs from a handful in 2013. The club scene is vibrant as well with now close to 20 Clubs with over 800 swimmers in operation from one in operation way back in 2013.
Uganda is steadily consolidating its regional dominance in the junior category with wins across the border in Kenya. Uganda recently emerged third overall in the CANA Zone 3 Swimming Championships in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) in line with its strategic plan hosted two major regional competitions in the last four years. They hosted the CANA Zone 3 and 4 Championships in 2014 attended by 10 countries and the inaugural CANA Zone 3 championship in 2015.
Uganda emerged best overall in the CANA Zone 3 event. USF continues to play a supportive role in region and in recently concluded CANA Zone 3 event in 2016 provided technical assistance to the Rwanda Swimming Federation (RSF). USF is also closely supporting the Tanzania Swimming Federation as they prepare to host the 2017 Zone 3 edition.
The coaching base is growing with over 100 FINA trained coaches who are applying their craft in several schools, clubs and facilities across the country. USF with the support of FINA has held five coach’s development clinics facilitated by world class FINA certified coaches.
In addition FINA Schools for officials attended by officials from Uganda and the African regional was held. This is all in a bid to strengthen and deepen the coaches and officials skill set. As the USF they strongly believe that qualified coaches are the backbone of any development program.
This is why they value the relationship with the Uganda Swimming Coaches Association (USCA). A strong foundation and base is required from which elite swimmers can be identified and supported to reach their full potential. They are also developing a long term athlete development plan (LTAD) to guide the athletes. Swimming was one of only three sports codes that featured in the Rio 2016 Olympics and they intend to continue this tradition.
Expanding the reach of swimming across the country is part of their vision. They have had coaches and officials from Gulu, Masindi, Jinja, Wakiso, Luwero and Kampala attend clinics. In addition they recently held a successful coaches clinic in Jinja for the eastern region.
Through this outreach swimming is beginning to root in various regions of the country. This will remain a key priority area for USF going forward.
Records are an essential part of running an effective national sports association. In this respect, since 2014 they have been using the Hi Tek Dolphin timing system and this has greatly enhanced there capacity to run events effectively and keep accurate records.
They now have in place the National records which are a major step forward in the right direction. They have also trained club and school coaches on the use of team manager and through this they are witnessing clubs and schools going digital. This has enabled them run events more efficiently.
Aquatics are comprised of several disciplines. In a bid to broaden the scope of activities, USF is supporting the branching out into water polo, open water and synchronized swimming. Building on a water polo FINA clinic held years back, USF is encouraging the development of the sport. Uganda during the CANA Zone 4 event in Mauritius in 2016 participated in the open water event and won a bronze medal. They intend to build on this going forward.
In a bid to build the knowledge base of the media on swimming and aquatics, USF has held two specialized media clinics for journalists from the print and electronic media. The aim of these media clinics is to enhance the knowledge of the media to be able to report on swimming from an informed point of view. FINA Vice President Dale Neuberger in reference to the media clinics noted that, ‘It’s always great to see National Federation leaders doing things that “push the envelope,” and I think your media clinic/seminar can be a model for developing countries, where media coverage for sports other than football is minimal.’
Sports medicine and anti-doping are critical to sport and swimming as well. Recognizing this, USF organized a Sports medicine clinic for swimmers, coaches and officials. During their first ever clinic, participants were introduced to sports medicine, anti-doping and the WADA anti-doping code, mental strengthen training. USF intends to build on this because the relationship and intersection between sports medicine, science, nutrition and sports is ever becoming so critical to sporting success.
USF has been able to participate in major regional and international championships including the African Junior 2015 and Senior 2016 Championships, All African Games, Commonwealth Games 2014, Youth Commonwealth Games 2014, FINA World Championships 2014 and 2016 as well as the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Uganda won two medals at the African Junior Championships in Cairo 2015.
USF’s regional and international footprint in terms of engagement is growing. USF President is CANA Vice President, CANA Zone 3 President and a FINA Bureau member. Several other officials of the USF have regional and international posting in CANA and FINA. This is a testament to the increasing visibility of USF and the growth of swimming in Uganda.
An empowered and knowledgeable sports administrator is a very essential facet of the operations of USF. To this end, it’s outlined in their strategy and they have laid emphasis on capacity building of their administrators over the last four years and one senior member of the executive committee completed the IOC Executive Masters in Sports (MEMOS), another one is completing an Executive Masters in International Sports Law. Several members of the executive have either undertaken diploma courses in sports or IOC sports administrator’s courses. Three of the coaches have also attended high level coaching diploma courses at the re-known Leipzig University in Germany. They place a high premium on capacity building as they believe that in order to take swimming and sports to the next level in Uganda they need qualified and knowledgeable persons managing sports.
USF operates within a broader multi spectrum sports eco-system. USF enjoys cordial relations with the Ministry of Education and Sports, National Council of Sports (NCS), the African Swimming Federation (CANA), the International Swimming Federation (FINA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Some members of the USF hold senior positions in CANA, FINA and the UOC as well. In addition USF is recognized by the NCS and is a fully paid up affiliate of UOC, NCS, CANA and FINA.
One of the major challenges they face is lack of their own swimming pool. This greatly hampers the ability to run their programs. Securing standard facilities remains firmly part of their vision and they are embarking on a drive to realize this dream. They will be calling upon all supporters and fans of swimming to join this effort.
Funding to run various events remains an ever present challenge. While they have been able to forge partnerships with a number of entities, there is still need to deepen their resource base. They thank all those who have stood by them and supported swimming. There sincere appreciation goes out to the swimmers, coaches, parents and sponsors like Meera Group, Vodafone, Excel Insurance Company, UMEME, GEMs Cambridge, Rwenzori Water, Coke Cola, Dr Sudhir Ruperalia, Kampala Parents School, Kampala International School, and Greenhill Academy. They can’t forget their committed executive committee, thank you for the tireless effort you give to support the swimming agenda in Uganda. Special mentions to the parents who provide both moral and financial support to the swimmers, thank you. The media who have done a great job of showing casing the talent of the swimmers, thank you.
Looking ahead USF want to focus on mass participation of swimmers, elite talent identification and support as well as capacity building of the coaches, technical officials and administrators. Branching out into new areas like water polo, open water, synchronized swimming, sports medicine, mental strengthens training and nutrition also to be done. They intend to build and deepen on the sponsorship base to attract more partners to the growing sport. Building and connecting with other fan base through among others the media who will also be a key priority area. With all this in their minds they call upon everyone to join swimming through our swim for all programs. Water is our world and through water we all can maintain healthy lifestyles. So join now.