She is Rutendo Maruta — a shy rising swimmer who is the reigning Girls 10 & Under 50m breaststroke national record holder with a stunning time of 43.77.
It’s not everyday that a swimmer can walk into the juniors’ swimming record books. World champion Coventry still has 13 age groups records yet to be broken to this day from the Girls Under-10 and below and the Under-17 national records.
Rutendo is part of that small band of young swimmers, and has been quietly breaking the national records. She did just that in the 2009/10 swimming season, clocking a national record in the 50m breaststroke event.
Rutendo is slowly but surely following Coventry’s golden footsteps. In her exploits in the pool, Rutendo has collected an astonishing 107 medals comprising 32 national gold medals and 32 Mashonaland swimming gold medals.
The Twin River Primary School student was first introduced to swimming at Borrowdale Junior in a “baby pool” but went to scoop the most promising swimmer title at the tender age of six.
“I was really shocked one day when her teacher told me that Rutendo, then five, had swum a length. Swimming was new to me. Her father used to swim while growing up in Highfield and that was all. I was so scared at first but then I thought, why not nurture her talent and she has been scooping medals ever since then,” said Rutendo’s mother Yvonne Gundu.
The powerful stroking swimmer Rutendo in her first swimming season scooped the Under-8 title before scooping the 2007/08 junior national gala title. She was also the 2008/09 Under-10 national champion and also scooped a shield at the 2009/10 Mashonaland and Zimbabwe Junior Championships. In February this year she won the age group championships and also captained the Mashonaland junior team.
“My goal is to graduate into the seniors and I intend to break some of the records,” Rutendo said.
The young swimmer’s mother Yvonne said she was aiming at polishing her daughter into a top swimmer who could represent the country at the 2016 Olympics Games when she turns 17.
“We are aiming at her competing at the 2016 Olympic Games. We have worked on her confidence and she is self-driven and we intend to go to the Olympic Games next year in London just to inspire her.
“At one time she was disqualified when she moved on the blocks before the gun went off and she was shattered but now we have worked on her mind education and she now accepts defeat,” Yvonne said.
Rutendo turns out for Sharks Swimming Club but, how does she juggle her schoolwork and swimming?
“I am managing to do that because my grades are very fine and I should be going to Convent for my Form One next year,” Rutendo said.
Rutendo’s mother appealed to the corporate world to help fund the nurturing of young swimmers such as Rutendo.
“Swimming is a sport where the parents and guardians of the children have to fund from their own pockets. We do not have sponsors. She needs about US$1 000 to go on tour outside the country and its double expenses for us because she has to be accompanied by an adult and I have to go with her. The corporate world should chip in and help these young swimmers so that they can reach their full potential,” Yvonne said.
Rutendo, who celebrated her 12th birthday on Friday, will be back in the pool on September 11-24 for the 1st seeded Mashonaland swimming gala at Les Brown. Come and watch this wonder kid in action.