NOTCHING up five individual gold medals in three days, beefy 13-year-old Matthew Lawson of Pirates Club was the only record breaker on the first weekend of the Mashonaland senior swimming championships at Harare’s Les Brown pool.
justify>His storming time of 1 min 06.39 sec in the 13-14 100 metres butterfly just shaded the long-standing 13 years and under Zimbabwe and provincial record of 1 min 06.53 sec set by one Z Ejaz seven years ago.
Leading the gold medal haul was another swashbuckling Pirate, Nicholas James of St John’s School, who stamped his authority in the 15-16 age group by winning all six of his races in style.
Other swimmers to capture the limelight over the first three days were All-Africa Games swimmer Moira Fraser (15 & 16) and Syanne Graham (13 & 14), both Spartans, who each earned five golds, while Jessie Byrom and Tara Wallace (12 & 13) each notched up three golds along with their Spartan’s team-mate Corey O’Riordan.
Another unbeaten performance came from 19-year-old sprinter Grant Beahan of Pirates in the 17 and Over 100 metres butterfly (1 min 00.26 sec), 50 metres freestyle (25.74 sec) and the 200 metres freestyle (2 min 05.72 sec) — only Doug Beattie of Pirates made him stretch in the 50m freestyle, finishing a split second behind.
The tall, muscular Beahan (19) leaves on December 28 to take up a swimming scholarship at Henderson State University in Arkansas, USA. He will thus be missed by the Zimbabwe national team at the Sub-Sahara Africa championships in Harare scheduled for January 5-7.
But Lawson will be there and it will be interesting to see this formidable teenager against top swimmers from South Africa and other countries as this will be a true litmus test of his potential that appears to be glowing each time he takes to the pool. In the 200 metres freestyle (13-14 age group) his impressive time of 2min 08.79 sec was more than 30 seconds ahead of the field and a mere three seconds behind the 17 and over winning time of Grant Beahan, who is six years his senior.
Lawson was second best of all 200m freestyle swimmers, including seasoned champions such as Nick James (16) and Richard Sainsbury (15).
James, an all-rounder, triumphed over his peers in all six of his 15-16 group races — the 200m freestyle (2:13.46); 50m butterfly (28.06sec); 200m backstroke (2: 26.40); 100m butterfly (1:03.07); 50m freestyle (26.70sec); 400m individual medley (5:21.32). — Own Correspondent.