Propellers Academy’s 13-year-old swimming sensation Melodi Saleshando certainly has the hallmarks of a rising star.
The Maun native recently showed all this while representing Botswana at the World Aquatics Junior Swimming Championships in Netanya, Israel. During the championships, the teenager featured in ten swimming categories and set a couple of new personal and national age group records.
Among the categories she competed in were the 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 50m butterfly, 50m breaststroke, 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 100m breaststroke, 200m individual medley and 200m breaststroke.
Despite returning home without a medal, out of the ten events, Saleshando recorded personal best in nine events. She also set new Botswana national age group record for the U13 girl’s category.
She clocked a time of 3:01,02s in the 200m breaststroke, 1:14, 45s in the 100m butterfly, 29,13s in the 50m freestyle, 33,39s 50m backstroke, 2:40,32s in the 200 individual medley, 31,03s in the 5om butterfly, 1:22,52s in the 100m breaststroke, 1:04,72s in the 100m freestyle an lastly 01:14,01s in the 100m backstroke.
Her performances and improvement at the championships have elated her coach Solomon Mpusetsang. While he applauds the other swimmers who competed at the championships, he says it is undeniable that Saleshando stole the show.
“This year she has been improving with every tournament she has been taking part in. I am not worried that we did not bring home a medal. She was swimming in a category of 18years and below and she was the youngest there. I am now certain that she definitely wants to qualify and be part of the 2028 Olympics,” Mpusetsang says.
Even though his focus has been on developing and improving her skills one tournament after the other, Mpusetsang says he is now building towards qualifying for the Olympics. While there will be no pressure, he says he has set a time period of three years for Saleshando to qualify for the 2028 Olympics when she will be 16 years old.
While optimistic of making it, the coach is aware there will be challenges along the way. With the adolescence stage now here, he believes Saleshando might experience a lack of progress in her performance as her body transitions during the period of trying to qualify for the Olympics.
“I cannot deny that we are now entering a tough period that involves nature and we cannot stop it. Puberty does play a critical role in a girl child’s performance in sport. Many world class athletes have passed through this stage and they did not allow it to engulf them and put a halt in their career. If Saleshando is very much determined and has the focus and right attitude we will surely make it to the Olympics. I truly believe in her as much as she believes in herself,” he says.
On the other hand, Keitsile took part in six swimming events being the 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 50m backstroke, 100, backstroke, 100m freestyle and 50m freestyle. Out of the six he managed to register personal best performance in three events being 100m freestyle at a time of 55,54s and 100m backstroke in a time of 01:06,64s. Matthews took part in five events being 50m butterfly, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke. Unfortunately he only managed to complete his races without registering any personal best record. Matija registered three personal best records out of five events being 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 50m breaststroke and 100m breaststroke. He hit a time of 01:13,28s as a PB in the 100m breaststroke, registered a time of 32, 31s in the 50m breaststroke and finally 2:13,40s in the 200m freestyle.