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Zimbabwean minister honoured in United States

by Staff reporter
12 Nov 2021 at 05:32hrs | Views
FIVE years after retiring from swimming, Zimbabwe's swimming icon Kirsty Coventry is still being regarded as one of the greatest swimmers to compete at university level in the United States.

Coventry, who is now the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation in Zimbabwe, first arrived in the United States in 2000 when she won a swimming scholarship at Auburn University.

She then spent nine years training under Kim Brackin and helped lead Auburn University's swimming team to two NCAA Championships in 2004 and 2005.

She won three medals at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, and four medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

In 2016, Coventry retired from swimming after her fifth Olympics at the Rio Games in Brazil, having won the joint-most individual medals in women's swimming in Olympic history.

And this week, the Auburn swimming and diving programme had five former swimmers, including Coventry, recognised as part of the College Swimming & Diving Coaches Association 100 Greatest Swimmers and Divers, the organisation announced on Tuesday.

The roster includes 100 women and 100 men and is a compilation of the most accomplished college swimmers, and divers, across all divisions.

For the women, Auburn was represented by Coventry and Maggie Bowen.

Coventry was named SEC Swimmer of the Year in 2005, and with seven Olympic medals, she is the most decorated Olympian in Auburn history.

Bowen was a three-time SEC Swimmer of the Year who won six individual NCAA titles.

The two were part of three consecutive national championships for the Auburn women from 2002 to 2004.

From 2003 to 2005, Coventry led the Auburn women programme to three consecutive NCAA championships.

She was named Swimmer of the Year by both the SEC and CSCAA following a season that saw her establish new NCAA records in the 200-metre backstroke, 400 individual medley and 200 individual medley.

Coventry's seven Olympic medals make her the most decorated Olympian from Africa.

A three-time SEC Swimmer of the Year, Bowen captained Auburn's NCAA championship teams in 2002 and 2003. She was a six-time individual NCAA champion, sweeping the 200 and 400 individual medleys for three straight years.

A 16-time SEC champion, Bowen also earned six international medals, highlighted by 200-metre individual medley gold at the 2001 World Championships.

The men's roster features a trio of sprint freestyle specialists in Fred Bousquet, Cesar Cielo and Rowdy Gaines.

Bousquet became the first man ever to swim the 50-yard freestyle in under 19 seconds at the 2005 NCAA Championships while Cielo set the NCAA and US Open record for the 50-yard freestyle (18.47) three years later at the 2008 NCAA Championships.

A 22-time All-American selection, Gaines was considered the top freestyle swimmer in the world during his time at Auburn and won eight NCAA championships, five as an individual.

He also won three Olympic gold medals swimming for Team USA.

The selections were made in recognition of CSCAA's centennial celebration with a blue-ribbon panel selecting the athletes out of 973 finalists and nearly 3 000 nominees.

In the coming months, the CSCAA will recognise the 100 Greatest Coaches along with the Centennial MVPs and Alumni of Impact for each programme.

Source - The Herald
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