Dar es Salaam. For years, Tanzanian swimmers have competed in international swimming events through the ‘universalities’ window.
This happened after the swimmers failed to secure the qualification time as required by international sports bodies under the coordination of the world swimming governing body, Fina.
Competitions like the world swimming championships and Olympic Games are cases at hand where participation requires qualifying marks.
For Tanzania, one of the major reasons cited for failure to attain the qualifications has been lack of a modern 50-metre swimming pool as well as other gear.
This time around like in previous years, no swimmer has managed to attain the qualification time–be it for world championships to be held in Korea nor for Olympic Games slated for July 24 to August 9 in Tokyo, Japan.
Already the Tanzania Olympic Committee (TOC) has urged sports bodies in the country to struggle for qualification marks instead of depending on universalities chances.
TOC secretary general Filbert Bayi challenged all sports associations to focus on the qualification time.
Bayi said many sports bodies including that of swimming were now late to submit their strategic plans ahead of the Tokyo Games. Knowing that the qualification ahead of the games was very important, Fina has decided to announce the swimming qualification time for the swimmers ahead of the Tokyo Games.
The Tanzania Swimming Association (TSA) is yet to unveil the provisional squad ahead of the Tokyo Games. National swimming team coach Alex Mwaipasi is now scrutinizing names of both swimmers who will have to struggle for qualifying time.
For instance, Fina’s A qualifification time for 50m Freestyle is 22.01 while in B qualifying time is 22.67. Also Fina’s A qualifying time is 48.57 in 100m freestyle and B qualifying time is 50.03seconds
In Butterfly, A qualifying time for 100m for men is 51.96 and B qualifying time is 53.52 seconds.
In women, Fina’s standard time for women swimmers is 57.92 (Qualifying A time) in the 50m Freestyle and 59.66 seconds for women in 100m Butterfly.
Fina’s qualification time can be attained by swimmers if they make efforts to improve.
For instance, men swimmers, Hilal Hemed Hilal and Collins Saliboko may attain the qualifying time if they will improve their swimming time ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Collins clocked 58.39 in China’s world swimming championships held in Hangzhou. Collins time is just four seconds to meet B qualifying time for Olympics Games. However, Collins time is in a 25m swimming pool. Also on the list is Hilal Hilal who clocked 24.37 in the 50m Freestyle during the Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast.
Hilal also clocked 26.32 in the 50m Butterfly during the Commonwealth Games held in Gold Coast. In the 100m Freestyle, Hilal clocked 52.88 seconds which is just 2.85 seconds to meet the B qualification time.
Apart from the two swimmers, there are also those who have improved their time in various categories and can qualify for the Tokyo event if they become serious about their respective game.
Swimmers like Dennis Mhini, Dalvin, Khalid Ladha, Kayla Temba, Celina Itatiro and Sonia Tumiotto, and also up and coming swimmer, Natalia Ladha can secure qualification marks for junior international events. Many others swimmers also can improve their personal best time.
Response from Tanzania Swimming Body
TSA chairman Imani Dominick admitted that Tanzania swimmers are facing challenges in order to qualify for the both World Champioships and Olympic Games.
Dominick said there is some improvement of the game development since their take over, but the big challenge is for the swimmers to meet the qualifying times. “We have swimmers, who are now undergoing training in Dubai and others in the United Kingdom. They need to be inspired because they are facing tough assignment to make the country proud for them.
TSA is finding means to make sure all swimmers succeed in all international competitions, but the task is very hard due to the lack of sponsors. “Hilal is in Dubai, where he is swimming and also studying. Collins, Dalvin, Sonia, Dennis are now in England undergoing studies and swimming, we need to increase the number of swimmers as the qualification events are not yet to start,” he said. Dominic named the qualification events as World Swimming Champions to be held in Wangju, South Korea, Junior Championships to be held in Budapest, Hungary, All Africa Games, African Youths Championships and Cana zone 3 to be held in Nairobi, Kenya. He said TSA also has requested Fina to endorse this year’s national swimming championships to be one of the qualifying swimming event ahead of the international swimming championships.