Historic local swimmers off to the Olympic Games

06 Apr 2008

Swimming in Botswana is generally not taken seriously and most people perceive it as a foreign sport. Also, since the sport is water related, most people are not taking a keen interest because they associate it with coastal countries.

Despite this, two young Batswana swimmers are defying all the odds and are on the verge of surprising the whole world with their swimming skills. The duo of John Kamyika and Samantha Paxinos has made history by qualifying for the world’s prestigious tournament, the Olympics, which will be held in Beijing China in August this year.

Kamyika and Paxinos started making their presence felt when they qualified for the All Africa Games last year in Algeria. Although they did not do well, the international Olympic committee recognised their talent and they qualified via Wild Card.

At the All Africa Games, they could not meet the time required for the Olympics but, since Botswana is a developing country with less swimming infrastructures, they were given the green light.

Currently, both swimmers are gearing for the Olympics and told Sunday Standard that they are ready for the challenge.
“It is every athlete’s dream to compete in the Olympics and the competition is stiff. We might have qualified via wild card but in every sport, anything can happen. I am going there to compete not to make up the numbers,” said 20-year-old Paxinos.

Paxinos is currently just based in Botswana compared to his compatriot, Kamyika, who is based in Pretoria, South Africa, at the High Performance Centre.
“High Performance Centre has everything what an athlete needs,” said 19-year-old, Kamyika. “The training there is of high quality with qualified coaches. Obviously, I will also be going to the Olympics with the aim of winning something. We might be underdogs but we might pull a big surprise.”

As part of their preparations for the Olympics, Paxinos and Kamyika will compete at the World Swimming Championships, which is being held in Manchester. The Championships start next week and the two swimmers left on Friday, courtesy of the sugar company, Blue Crystal. Blue Crystal has granted P60 000 to the two swimmers to cover for the Manchester trip. According to the company’s Managing Director, Buck Buchanan, the grant was part of the company’s corporate social responsibility.

Paxinos swims in the butterfly and free style categories.