BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
SWIMMING ace Peter Wetzlar’s hopes of representing the country at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo received a major boost after recently earning a spot to compete against some of the world’s best swimmers at the Toyota US Open Swimming Championships in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hosted by USA Swimming at the McAuley Aquatic Center from December 4-7, the 2019 Toyota US Open Swimming Championships traditionally attracts some of the finest swimmers in the US.
This year’s event was also laden with the crème de la crème of US swimming talent, headlined by Olympic champions Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky and swimming superstars Caeleb Dressel and Regan Smith.
Wetzlar has been enjoying a brilliant season with the University of Kentucky, winning several accolades, which earned him a spot to compete at the prestigious meet in both the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events.
While the 22-year-old Zimbabwe rising star is ineligible to represent the USA in international competitions such as the Olympics, foreign athletes are still permitted to participate in the Toyota US Open Championships and compete against some of the fastest swimmers in the country.
Wetzlar first competed in the 50-metre freestyle preliminaries where he entered the race as the number 34 seed, among a 164-person field, with an entry time of 22.77.
The University of Kentucky senior touched the wall in 23.05 to finish the race in 36th place to miss out on the finals, which was open to the top 24 swimmers.
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The top time from preliminaries was 21.59, recorded by 30-year-old Bruno Fratus of Brazil. Fratus placed fourth in the same event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in 21.67.
Wetzlar, who currently holds the Zimbabwe record in the 50 and 100 metre freestyle events was also scheduled to feature in the 100-metre freestyle but withdrew from the event.
The promising swimmer is a leading candidate to represent Zimbabwe at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after receiving the Olympic Athletes Scholarships for the 2020 Games along with six other athletes from athletics, equestrian and rowing.
Qualification in the swimming competition at next year’s Summer Olympics will run until July 6 2020.