As JKUAT gears to be the epicenter of the region’s sporting jamboree, courtesy of the Eastern Africa University Games, the JKUAT Swimming team popularly known as the JKUAT Torpedoes’ mantra could not have put it any better: Its either you “Sink or Swim!”
The swimming gala competition is billed to be one of the hotly contested events, going at least, by the names that will be featuring. Consequently, the Torpedoes Team Captain, David Ongeri and Team Manager, Victoria Wanga, are not taking anything lying down, as the Torpedoes prepares to make a stab in 18 events!
One may think the homeground advantage may come into play to tip the scales in their favour. However, David and Victoria are not banking on that alone.
“We will be leading the JKUAT Torpedoes from the front. It will require teamwork and discipline,” the duo emphatically avers.
David, whose specialty is the 50 metres Breaststroke with a personal best of 38 seconds, is confident the JKUAT Torpedoes will deliver a sterling performance under the able guidance of Coach Peter Murage.
Flying the JKUAT flag will be the 22 swimmers, participating in 18 events, with Victoria leading a continent of 7 highly spirited ladies, while David will be causing hysteria in the opponents’ backyard with a formidable side of 15 young energized men.
The 18 events range from short distance to long distance such as 50 metres Breaststroke event and 1500 metres Freestyle for both male and female.
And for a team that has barely marked an anniversary since its formation in 2015, it’s hard to believe, the JKUAT Torpedoes is causing ripples in the waters, having participated in a number of major swimming galas organized by various institutions and swimming associations in Kenya: The Team premiered in the KUSA games in 2015 which were hosted by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) where JKUAT was represented by 5 swimmers: Joseph Mungai, Ian Kiragu, David Ongeri, Valentine Nyaga, and Victoria Wanga. They emerged position 5, overall out of 10 participating universities.
In March this year, the team took a dive during the KU Opens which saw the Torpedoes bag position 3, posting the best ever performance individually and as a group. The team finished 1st runners up with Victoria Wanga who specializes in the 50 metres Freestyle event, steering the ladies to the charts bagging the 1st runners up Best Female Swimmer honours.
Speaking of the win, Wanga, says, “It gave me the confidence and motivation to aim even higher…”
Then came NASOKUSA. That is, the Nairobi South chapter of the Kenya Universities Sports Association. The Torpedoes clinched position 2 overall!
Later the Torpedoes swam to the Coastal City of Mombasa, where they signed up for the Kenya Swimming Federation (KSF) that drew participating teams from all age-groups across East Africa. According to David, the team didn’t perform to expectation, however, he cites the ladies 50x 4 medley relay who emerged position 4. He is quick to admit, that although the ladies team is the cornerstone of the Torpedoes, the entire JKUAT Torpedoes brigade is leaving nothing to chance in their quest to bag top honours during the Swimming galas.
The team is doing workouts, under Coach Peter Murage and Douglas Okatso who have ensured, the Torpedoes are not in deficit of winning tips.
David and Victoria are in agreement that for one to make it to the top in swimming, discipline and commitment are non-negotiables.
And for the team members, although juggling between lectures and the swimming pool has been a daunting task, they have taken to it the way a duck does to water. Lack of adequate training equipment which could help to improve their stroke techniques remains a major drawback.
“If you don’t do your strokes correctly, you can be disqualified from a race,” Wanga cautions, drawing from past experience. Some of the equipment the team requires include: kickboard, pullbuoy to name but a few.
The team appeals to the comrades and lovers of the sport to come out in large numbers to see the Torpedoes cause ripples during the swimming galas.
The team leaders say; KU, and USIU are some of the local teams that may pose a challenge to their bid. However, whether that is causing them hysteria or butterflies, time will tell!