SHARP contrast is the order of the day in the country’s two aquatic disciplines, swimming and diving, which have raised Zimbabwe’s flag high in the international sporting
arena in recent years.
While swimming is on a high on the national and international level, stirred by Kirsty Coventry’s Athens Olympic Games victories, its sister sport, diving, has entered a gloomy period and has almost sunk into oblivion. Hit by retirements and emigration of divers and coaches, diving has disappeared from the Zimbabwean sporting scene, and the Zimbabwe Diving Board has all but stopped functioning.
Zimbabwe’s former number one male diver and Commonwealth gold medallist, Evan Stewart, quit the sport last year, while the country’s top women diver, young Shaye Boddington, tipped to become Zimbabwe diving’s own Kirsty Coventry, left the country for New Zealand with her family.
Other young and promising female divers like Lisa Rivers, Fiona Coulqhon and Chiedza Chitepo either left the country or gave up the sport altogether after leaving school due to the folding of the few competitive clubs left in the country. Top coach Geoff Cox has also joined the great trek out of local diving.
Peter Dulzell, the president of the Aquatics Association of Zimbabwe, the overall body responsible for both diving and swimming, said diving has to restart from grassroots.
“We have to try to build it up again. We need to find people who are prepared to coach. Currently, there is no one who is interested to do that at national level. We still have diving in schools, but the divers are also not prepared to take it up beyond the school level,” said Dulzell.
“Also, the equipment for both diving and swimming is old, and we are constantly talking to the municipality to help us mend them.”
On swimming, Dulzell said the sport was enjoying high numbers.
“We are currently off-season, but there is a healthy set-up in the sport, both at school and national level, and we hope it will remain so.