Kenyan Girl Makes Ripples in British Pools

Rebecca KamauA teenage Kenyan swimming sensation based in Britain has caught the attention of the swimming fraternity since her exceptional performance at the Age Group Open Championships at Kasarani in February.

During the meet organised by the Kenya Swimming Federation, the 15-year old Rebecca Kamau was in a class of her own bagging seven gold medals and a silver in the eight events that she competed in. In the bargain, she also broke two national records.

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In the meantime, the young swimmer, currently a member of the high performance Birmingham Swimming Club, continues to make ripples in the English Midlands’ pools. In November she broke her own 200 meters Freestyle record which she had set in February. In early December, she was at it again at the Midlands regional swimming short course championships in Rugby where she emerged the 2014 champion (15 and under) in the 200 Individual Medley (IM). She made the swim in a record shattering time of 2minutes, 17.34 seconds, which is a new Midlands record. This makes Rebecca the fifth fastest 15-year old 200 IM swimmer in Great Britain. It is also a new Kenyan record. She also won the 2014 champion trophies in 50, 100 and 200 metre breaststroke events.

The previous IM record of 2 minutes, 24.91 seconds was set by the highly talented Achieng Ajulu-Bushell, the multiple national records holder who swam for Kenya as a youth. Achieng was however poached by Britain in the run-up to the London Olympics, but she suddenly quit swimming soon after competing in the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2012.

Rebecca holds 10 other national records in both short (25 metre) and long (50 metre) courses, some of which she set as far back as 2012 when she was only 12 years old. She has now set her sights on the other records in breaststroke, her speciality.

In 2010, at only ten years of age and before her family temporarily relocated to the UK, Rebecca represented Kenya in CANA, the sub-Sahara regional swimming championship, held in Nairobi and won six gold medals and one silver. She then lifted the best swimmer trophy in her age group category in competition against among others, swimmers from South Africa, the undisputed continental swimming superpower.

The Kenyan teenager was the youngest member of the country’s swimming squad at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in August. She had hoped to be selected for national duty at the just concluded Short Course World Championships in Doha but was not, but she is now looking forward to an action-packed 2015.

Rebecca who will be doing her General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations in May next year, will also be working to qualify for either the World Swimming Championships in Kazan, the Youth Commonwealth games in Samoa or World Junior swimming Championships in Singapore. It is an unenviable workload which involves balancing an intense 20-hour swimming week, morning and evening, with an equally intense academic schedule. At the same time she will be working to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Her next major competition will be the prestigious Luxemburg Euro Meet in February where she will be representing the Midlands.

“Rebecca had a great experience at the Commonwealth and is hungry for more opportunities to race at the highest international level. This is reflected in her commitment to training and the continued progress she makes in competitions”, commented Carl Grosvenor, senior coach of the elite squad at Birmingham Swimming Club.

By Njonjo Kihuria

-The Star

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