As a code Botswana Swimming Association is just under six years, but the association’s current performance in the just ended 8th annual Confederation of Africa Zone III and IV Invitational Swimming Championships held at the University of Botswana will go a long way in making swimming one of the core sports codes.
First it was a miracle on its own that a country with no swimming history was given a nod to host an event of that magnitude. Not only did Botswana host a successful championship, the athletes delivered a severe whooping to their more fancied counterparts. To garner 14 medals ahead of Namibia who did not get a single gold despite an unlimited access to the Atlantic Ocean. Though the country’s historic success was due their numerical advantage, which they used with devastating effect it was still a brave performance from athletes who uses tap water to hone their skill. Botswana came tops with a maximum of 2373.5 followed by Zimbabwe and Mauritius with 2295.5 and 2060 respectively.
The victory however comes amidst the country’s long running problem of lack of sports facilities. There are only two Olympic size swimming pools at UB and Otse Police College. Most athletes have to do with small private pools to prepare for swimming events.
Botswana Swimming Association Secretary General Matthew Gibson told Voice Sport that they will roll out a new plan that will see swimmers across the country brought closer to swimming facilities in the areas they reside in.
“There is a very good facility at the Police College which is under-used and we intend to work hand in hand with the college authorities to have access to the pool. We also intend to engage schools that have pools around the country for the benefit of our athletes. So far we have visited Selebi Phikwe, Palapye and Francistown,” Gibson said.
He said their long term plan is to have a centre of excellence to help groom world class swimmers.
Botswana National Sports Council’s Head of Marketing and Communications Chris Nkwe said lack of facilities is not limited to swimming alone but cuts across sport codes.
“It will be difficult for, say netball, volleyball or boxing to host international events because the country does not have an indoor facility which is a requirement for all these disciplines,” Nkwe said.
He said challenges goes beyond sports facilities but also include accommodation.
“But we are not just folding our arms. To complete two stadia during a recession shows that there is an effort being made,” he said.