Synchronised swimming takes root in Mombasa

Published on 17/01/2009

By Ernest Ndunda

It is all about creativity and movement in the swimming pool. Synchronised swimming, which involves swimming, dance and gymnastics, is increasingly becoming popular in Mombasa.

This is why Oshwal Academy in Nyali has introduced synchronised swimming in its sports curriculum, becoming the first school in the country to do so.

The school’s move is also in response to the Government’s call for schools to diversify sports taught, in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Synchronised swimmers perform a harmonised routine of elaborate moves in the water to music.

TEAM MEMBERS FROM LEFT: Karen Sugahara, Hemali Chhaya, Priyanka Rathod and Sausan Buran pose with their coach William Malalo. Photos: Govedi Asutsa/Standard

Recently, Generation Next visited Oshwal Academy to watch the synchronised team train.

The school’s team comprises of Karen Sugahara, Hemali Chhaya, Priyanka Rathod and Sausan Buran, all aged 13 years and Year Nine students. Jasmeen Alibhai, seven, also trains with them.

Team captain Priyanka says synchronised swimming takes a lot of patience.

“There is a lot of movement and balancing and patience is paramount in the sport,” she told Generation Next.

“It requires advanced water skills, great strength, endurance, flexibility, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down under water,” she added.

The school’s swimming coach William Malalo says Kenya could do well in synchronised swimming if the sport were given special attention.

“We have good swimmers in the country, which is an added advantage. The sport needs to be taken seriously at the grassroots level and we could become one of the best performers in the world,” he said.

“Kenyans are naturally flexible and have the aerobic endurance it takes to excel in synchronised swimming,” the coach added.

“As a coach, my job is to work on choreography and develop a training plan to mould a good team.”

Synchronised swimming made its Olympic debut in 1984. The discipline has three categories — solo, duet and team — and is exclusively performed by women in Olympics and World Championships.

However, men have started performing, but only in national and minor international competitions.

“My dream is to see Kenya feature in synchronised swimming at the 2012 Olympic Games in London,” concludes coach Malalo.

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