I had never been for a swimming gala. The Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) gala held in June 2018 would be my first. Armed with great enthusiasm, and drinks to keep us well rehydrated; We quickly made our way to the pool side, to sit near some of the moms from the SilverFin Academy (SFA). The different events went on as I tried to familiarise myself with the names of the different clubs, which could be distinguished by the colour or their swimming caps. The club members were particularly helpful in getting me to understand the programme, swimming jargon and order of events. The pool was lined with adverts and banners representing participating clubs and sponsors.
A number of races stood out for me because I was sitting close to some of the parents of the competitors. You could tell when any of their children was racing. Sunshine (not her real name) was usually calm and collected during the training sessions. She stood up suddenly, bolted out of her seat and jumped from the highest step running down several steps in quick succession in a split second shouting her daughters names’ at the top of her lungs. Only then did it occur to me that her daughter was competing. Another mom next to me suddenly sat upright and fixed her gaze on a particular spot in the pool, waiting for her champ to reach the finishing line. She could not be distracted as she wished her young competitor to the finish line with her loving intense gaze.’ Ahem!’ mentioned the mom on my left. ‘Ahem!’ we all responded with great satisfaction. One particular parent could be heard calling out his sons name clearly; just before the start of each race. His voice must have carried a coded message; because this particular swimmer excelled in their races every single time.
The highlight for me was the mixed 15 and over 4X50 SC Freestyle Relay. This was one of the final events on the second day. I looked at the line up anxiously trying to understand how the swimmers had been arranged. The first swimmer did a wonderful job and came in second. The next swimmer dashed to the end of the pool gliding effortlessly through the water like a fish; barely ruffling the water above the surface and making it back to the start line with strong rhythmic strokes. This gave an advantage to the third expert swimmer who only had to maintain their lead; followed by the final swimmer. By this time, we were all standing up from our seats, cheering as loudly as we could. I suddenly realised that my feet were no longer on the ground because I was jumping up and down clapping my hands vigorously without any particular rhythm in mind. All our eyes were fixed on the final swimmer who exhibited great technique, energy and speed, which could only deliver a winning result with a Seed Time of 2:18:22 and a Finals Time of 2:02:15 garnering 18 points for SFA.
The win for that relay team was a win for the whole swimming club. I left that gala feeling like a champion even though I could barely float and none of my own children had participated in this particular event. Individual success is great. However, group success has far reaching benefit. Good Job SFA! You can follow the club on twitter: @SilverfinA