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Teenager Lawson breaks Africa junior swimming record


Teenage sensation James Lawson broke the African junior swimming record in the four-day 9th African Junior Swimming Championships which ended on Sunday in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

He clocked 1:05:98s in the 100 metres breaststroke, beating the previous record of 1:07:55s. But this was slower than his Zimbabwean personal best time of 1:05:21s.

The nine-member team won a total of 21 medals on their way to finishing second behind South Africa after amassing three gold, seven silver and 11 bronze medals.

South Africa, who sent a 29-member team, won 71 medals (36 gold, 25 silver and 10 bronze) to finish first among the nine countries who were represented.

Lawson was the most outstanding after scooping two gold medals in the 50 and 100 metres breast stroke events and a bronze medal in the 400 metres individual medley. He also broke the African breaststroke record.

Zimbabwe’s other gold medal in Nigeria came from yet another promising young swimmer, Nicholas Burnett, who won a gold medal in the 100m freestyle, silver in the 50m freestyle and two bronze in the 50 and 100m backstroke.

Peter Wetzlar impressed in the Under-14 age group with five bronze medals in the 50 and 100m butterfly, 50 and 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke while Andy Cyprianos added a bronze medal in the 100m butterfly. Jamie Isemonger won two silvers in the 50 and 100m breast stroke.

In the girls’ section Tarryn Rennie picked up three silver medals and two bronze while Meegan Carey-Smith came back with a bronze medal.

Team manager Gareth Desmond told NewsDay Sport soon after arrival yesterday that he was happy with the performance of the young swimmers, who are future prospects for the country ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“The tour was a success if you consider that we had only nine swimmers but managed to come back with 21 medals while South Africa had a huge team of 29 swimmers.

“Almost all the swimmers who went to Nigeria came back with better personal best times, while others broke national records. “James Lawson was also outstanding as he managed to break the African record in the breast stroke event,” said Desmond.

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