CHS swimmer swimming to glory

Romana Ochanda(left) poses for a photo with other participants at the 30th Universities Summer Games 2019 in Italy.

Having been nominated to represent Kenyan universities at the 30th Summer Universities Games in Italy, Romana Ochanda, 5th year MBCHB student is determined to conquer the waters. We caught up with were after jetting back to the country from Italy.

My name is Romana Adero Ochanda, a 5th year medical student at the University of Nairobi.

I started swimming while in primary school.  In fact, I engaged in a number of extracurricular activities, and swimming was just one of them. I participated in lawn tennis, chess and swimming.  Thanks to my parents who ensured that I attended holiday sports camps at Sadili Oval to keep busy.

As it were, I participated in a number of competitive swimming galas in lower primary school.  This was followed by a lengthy interruption when I shifted to boarding school, both in upper primary and secondary school.  Swimming then became a hobby which I could not prioritize, and rarely engaged in.  Therefore, my nomination to represent Kenyan universities at the 30th Summer Universiade 2019 in Naples, Italy came as a surprise.

As it were, when the University required swimmers, I volunteered.  It did not matter that my schedule at the med school was tight, and that I neither had a coach nor time to train.  I did not train, but honoured every invitation to compete.  Through the University, I competed at the East African University Games 2018 in Dodoma, Tanzania, Kusa Women 2019 in Kirinyaga and other local swimming galas. I guess my nomination to attend the summer games emanated from this.

My preparations for the summer games were nil, and absolutely nil.  First, I was taken by surprise, secondly, this was the time we were preparing for exams, and thirdly I neither had a coach nor time to train.  Also I did not have suitable swimming gear for the games.  I had to make do with what I had used over the years, and at some point during the competitions, I thought I would be disqualified.  It appeared that the sports costumes had to be certified by International University Sports Federation.  Besides, balancing my school work, and document processing for the event was an onerous task.  Nevertheless, giving up was not an option.

In Naples, I saw the magnitude of the games, and felt greatly honoured.  The games were graced by world class swimmers. My commitment was to put my University on the world map.  I may not have won, but I did my part.

I wish to thank the University of Nairobi, and more particularly, the University’s Sports Director, Mr. Murithi and the College Sports Representative, Ms. Marete, who tirelessly worked towards my participation in the summer games.   I also wish to express my gratitude to my lecturers for kindly slotting me for special exams.  Lastly, I thank my family for the support it accorded me, which without, I would not have juggled studies and sports.  Importantly, without God, all this would not have been possible.  God bless University of Nairobi.