ZIMBABWE’S swimming icon, Kirsty Coventry enjoyed a good start to the New Year ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics after securing some commendable results in her season’s first competition at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, Texas, in the United States at the weekend.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The Arena Pro Swim Series, which ran from Friday to Sunday, featured a strong field of more than 600 swimmers, including 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps and other top US swimmers such as Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin.
Coventry, who continues to challenge the world’s best at the age of 32, took part in the 200m individual medley (IM) and the 100m backstroke, managing to reach the A finals in both events.
Despite not managing a podium finish, the seven-time Olympic medalist showed that her comeback is moving along nicely after managing to finish in the top four in both events.
In the 200m IM, Coventry touched the wall in 2:12.86 to finish just outside the podium, as Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu enjoyed a wire-to-wire victory after finishing in 2:10.69.
America’s Melanie Margalis touched second in 2:12.67 ahead of her compatriot Sarah Henry (2:12.77), who finished in third position.
In her second event, Coventry managed another fourth-place finish in 1:00.36, topping the American duo of Hannah Stevens (1:00.51) and Maya Dirado (1:00.77), who finished fifth and sixth respectively.
The race was won by Hosszu (59.91), who finished ahead of reigning Olympic champion Missy Franklin (1:00.03) and 18-year-old American Kathleen Baker, who settled for bronze in 1:00.04.
Coventry was last month named the Female African Swimmer of the Year for 2015 by the well-respected United States-based swimming magazine, Swimming World, after her impressive comeback to international competition.
The recognition came after Coventry made an impressive comeback to international swimming, with the major highlight being her memorable triple three-peat at the African Games in Brazzaville, Congo.
She has already attained Olympic Qualifying “A” standard times in the 100 and 100 Back Stroke and will later this year compete in her fifth Olympiad in Rio.