In Summary
  • A revision to that rule in 2017 allowed clubs to enter any number of swimmers as long as they hit qualification times set by USF. Failure to perform to qualification standards attracted a fine of Shs50,000.

Selection dilemma
With the benefit of hindsight, Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) seem to have shot themselves in the foot when they declared in the May 3-5 National Championships summons (regulation 2.2) that swimmers from the diaspora will not be eligible to represent Uganda in the international events if they don’t participate in the Nationals.

Rebecca Ssengonzi, who is on Olympic scholarship did not make the event leaving USF in a dilemma ahead of the July 12-28 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. Do they ignore a swimmer they have invested so many resources in to make it Tokyo 2020?

If Ssengonzi makes it to Gwangju, it will be hard for USF justify why swimmers in the diaspora must honour future National meets.

Medals vs. points
Another swimmer that has made a strong case for selection ahead of the world events is Tendo Mukalazi. Mukalazi, 16, topped the top age group last year and defended his gong but not without attracting the ire of the parents of his main challenger Ambala Atuhaire – who felt gold medals should be considered ahead of points.

Atuhaire won seven age group events to earn 126 points while Mukalazi won just one (100m breast), where the former did not participate.

Mukalazi’s nine events garnered 139 points. The chaos reminded us of the debate that dominated the aftermath of the Cana Zone III Championships in Sudan last year, where Uganda finished fifth overall with 976 points.

Uganda placed behind hosts Sudan (1,548), South Africa (1,248), Tanzania (1,125) and Kenya (1,037) but with 12 gold, nine silver and 15 bronze medals was only bettered by South Africa (39 gold, 23 silver and 16 bronze) and Kenya (22 gold, 16 silver and seven bronze) in the unconsidered medals’ category.

Mugisha and Mwebeiha
The 13-14 years age group has been exciting for both boys and girls over the past three years.

By her parents’ admission, Karla Mugisha expected to get her baptism of fire at these Nationals after advancing to this category on March 20. But she held on well challenging Daya Yalonda Mpeera, Swagia Mubiru and Alexis Kituuka among others for medals.

She actually got silver in the 50m breast, 50m freestyle and 100m breast with bronze in the 100m fly. Gold was always left to Kirabo Namutebi but the impressive Mugisha did not place lower than fifth in any of her other events.

Ditto Mercedes Mwebeiha who turned 15 on December 20, 2018. Mwebeiha had gold in 200m, 100m and 50m back plus the 200m IM en route to topping an age group, which also had Avice Meya and Ssinzi Nabatanzi, with 143 points

Disqualifications
One of the major controversies of the final day of the three-day event had seen the referee and records desk re-instate Sailfish’s Jaden Mwase and Vine Grace’s Roman Esimu in the 10 and under boys’ 100m breaststroke.

While the referee had ruled the boys out for false starts, the table had coincidentally called for the race to be stopped as one of the clocks had gone off before the swimmers could be set off. The two boys swum but were disqualified for false starts.
Meanwhile, in 2016, Dolphins were incensed by USF’s decision to allow clubs to only field three swimmers per event and decided not to turn up for the gala.

A revision to that rule in 2017 allowed clubs to enter any number of swimmers as long as they hit qualification times set by USF. Failure to perform to qualification standards attracted a fine of Shs50,000.

That too was amended this time with USF’s event regulation reading; “coaches will be held accountable for swimmers who don’t make qualification times.” With no specific punishment, over 120 swimmers failed to make qualification times in over 20 events.

HOW THEY FINISHED

TEAM GIRLS BOYS
Dolphins 1,703 3,559
Seals 2,065 1,105
Silverfin 1,024 974
Altona 248 12
Kla Aquatics 164 81
Sailfish 72 191
Olympia 27 182
Makerere - 169
Gliders 16 53
Vine Grace 14 -
Supra 8 12
Blue Marines 4 -
Baseline - 8
Greenhill Orcas - 4