By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha
Harare, Zimbabwe – IF anything is to prove Rutendo-Munashe Maruta’s precocious swimming talent, it has to be the more than 100 medals that she has collected since she started swimming when she was seven years old at Borrowdale Primary School, Harare, in 2007.
Since 2008, Maruta aged 12 has been the Zimbabwe Junior Girls’ swimming champion for age groups 8, 9, 10 and 11 and she is still aiming high.
“It feels really great and people now know that I’m out there and I am serious competition and I’m going to come first in all my races,” she said of her winning ways.
There could be no better way to describe Maruta other than that she is definitely a blooming talent in swimming; unfortunately not many corporates have seen her potential enough to sponsor her. According to Rutendo’s mother, Yvonne, only Air Zimbabwe has chipped in with sponsorship of flight tickets.
In an exclusive interview with iZiviso.com, Maruta revealed that swimming is the passion of her life.
“For me, swimming is like taking your first step in the world and getting what you’ve always wanted. When I swim I feel like I am on top of the world,” she said, adding that she loved being in water.
“I am very serious with my sport; in 2016, I’ll be at the Olympics, most definitely. It’s a goal that I have set for myself. I don’t believe in the word I can’t because the impossible is possible all the time.”
The young swimmer who is proficient in freestyle, backstroke, breast stroke and butterfly said she was inspired to take up swimming by her brother, Graham Munyaradzi who is a swimmer and currently doing water polo.
Maruta scooped her first shield titled the “Pakenhan Shield” named after one of the best swimmers to come out Borrowdale Primary School when she was in Grade One.
As attested by her haul of medals, mostly gold, Maruta has participated in practically every major swimming competition in Zimbabwe, from provincial to national championships. She is currently in the Mashonaland and Zimbabwe junior swimming teams, and because of her amazing talent has been incorporated into the seniors team.
Early this year, Maruta participated in the Confederation Africaine De Natation Ameteur Zone 3 and 4 Swimming Championships held in Gaborone, Botswana where she fared very well.
“The competition was very stiff I came fourth in most of my races,” said Maruta who is currently a member of Sharks Swimming Club where she is coached by Kathy Lobb, a veteran swimming coach.
Maruta said that Lobb believed in her talent so much that she even recruited her into the senior team while she was still a junior. In 2009, Maruta participated in Zimbabwe Senior Swimming Championships beating some of the older guys than her.
“It felt good because I beat some of the seniors who think they’re original gangsters,” she said with a little swag in her voice.
In the same year, the Sport Recreation Commission recognized Maruta’s talent and awarded her the Junior Sports Personality Award. Maruta said that she practices everyday except weekends during the summer, and also closely watches her diet. She said that she does not tolerate any junk food.
“I am all rounder when it comes to sporting activity but water feels good. It is my first love. It’s like I was born to swim,” she said, confidently.
Maruta said that she is very academic and is currently one of the best students in her class.
“I like reading a lot – I’m very academic,” she said.
Maruta added that her parents were very supportive and constantly encourage her to pursue her first love: swimming.
She said that her mother attended every swimming gala, athletics event and match that she was involved while her father paid for the numerous swimming tours that she has been on.
“I don’t think people take sports seriously when they’re young; they only do so when they reach the Olympics but my parents have been very supportive of my swimming activities,” she said.
Maruta’s mother said that when she realized that her daughter had a talent for swimming she developed a determination to provide all the necessary support for that talent to bloom.
“I guess when I look back on the talent that I had as a young child, there was no-one to nurture it. So when I realized the potential in my daughter, I told myself that I would support her all the way. It’s a lot of work. I have to sit through most of her training and we also do a lot of travelling,” said Maruta’s mother.
“Rutendo-Munashe is a very good natured and takes things in good stead – she has a beautiful personality, and so far ahead of herself.”