When swimming is brought out as a subject in Zimbabwe, the name that usually comes to everyone’s lips is Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry.
However, 21 year old Nicole Horn could be following in the footsteps of the legendary swimmer, judging by her recent performances in the United States where she is based.
Nicole, who is on vacation from university in the United States, has temporarily joined the Newsday team. We took the opportunity to talk to her about her swimming escapades and what plans she has for her career as a swimmer.
Daniel Nhakaniso (DN): When did you decide that you wanted to become a professional swimmer?
Nicole Horn (NH): When I was 18, that’s when I decided to try applying for a swimming scholarship to the United States of America.
DN: When did you start swimming and when did you make your debut for Zimbabwe?
NH: I started swimming at the age of 15. I then made my debut for Zimbabwe when I was 16. I swam for a Zimbabwe combined clubs swimming competition in Zambia.
DN: Now that you are on a swimming scholarship in the US, which University are you based at and which competitions did you participate in before coming back home?
NH. At the moment I’m currently on a swimming scholarship at Henderson State University in Arkansas. I have competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 2 national championships in Canton, Ohio. I also competed at the New South Inter-Collegiate Swimming Conference (NSISC).
DN: Have you won any team or individual awards while in the US?
NH: Yes. I was voted the most valuable swimmer for my university swimming team for the 2009 – 2010 season after breaking seven university records. Resultantly, I was inducted into the Arkansas Swimming Hall of Fame for the year 2010.
DN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
NH: It was when I represented Zimbabwe at the World Championships in Rome last year. Although I didn’t win any medals, I managed to break Kirsty Coventry’s 100 meters freestyle national record.
I was happy with my performances considering that it was my first time at the event.
DN: What are some of the events you are expecting to take part in this year?
NH: I will be looking forward to qualifying for the World Swimming Championships in Dubai, from December 15 to 19 and hopefully from there I can start thinking about the Olympics in London in 2012.
DN: How are you keeping in shape while you are here in Zimbabwe?
NH: At the moment I have been doing a lot of running and weightlifting in the gym. I have been taking a short break for now but I will start swimming competitively at the end of June.
DN: What is your favourite stroke in the pool?
NH: My favourite stroke is freestyle. I am best at 50 metres, 100 metres and 200 metres freestyle.
DN: Besides swimming what are you studying at Henderson State University?
NH. I am studying for a Bachelors of Arts in Mass Media with a minor in Communication and French which is why I’m here at NewsDay.
DN: How has been your experience at NewsDay so far?
NH: It’s been excellent; I have had an opportunity to learn a lot about working for a newspaper.