He swims for almost two meters then stops. Suddenly, he crosses his hands over his head and gently sinks under the water.wpid-swimming.jpg

He squeezes his feet tightly together and rapidly swings his lower body in the motion of a dolphin as he rises to the surface driving onlookers wild.

Muluya is the swimming coach at the Uganda Christian University (UCU), he also doubles as the head coach of Silverside, a Mukono based swimming club. The young architect eats, sleeps and breathes swimming.

Since 1979 when the Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) was formed, the sport has been closely associated with the rich kids in the Capital but slowly, Ugandans outside Kampala are starting to embrace swimming.

While he seems to have mastered all four competitive swimming strokes; the Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle to a tee, he only started became an amateur swimmer in the year 2011, becoming a competitive swimmer in October 2012.

Though he grew up in Kayanja, Mukono next to the mystic Sezibwa Falls, the 5?8′ muscular swimmer says that his parents forbade him from swimming at an early age but fate had other plans.

At 21 years he would work at the UCU gym and meet a one Ellie Price, an American exchange student at the university.

?She was taking children of her host family for a day at the swimming pool and asked if I would like to join her. Five friends and I accompanied her to Ridar Hotel. She taught me the basics of swimming and I haven?t looked back since,? Muluya says.

Together with Price and three friends, Muluya registered Silverside swimming club with the Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) in the year 2011 and embarked on a mission of spreading swimming within the university and the surrounding community. The USF has 25 registered clubs with only seven outside Kampala.

Muluya says another American exchange student Adam Lewis took him deeper into the competitive elements of swimming such perfecting the swimming strokes and adopting a competitive mindset after Price returned to the US.

Muluya has attended three coaching clinics organized by the USF and the global swimming body FINA that have improved his ability to handle beginner, amateur and elite swimmers.

?The training clinics have enabled me know how to structure training programmes for each swimmer I handle and to enable them develop through the year. A lot of people are taking up the sport which is a good thing,? Muluya says.

Muluya started his coaching career at the Festino Cite leisure gardens in Mukono where he was partly responsible for coaching the pupils of Namagunga Primary School girls in the year 2011; he combined this with coaching adult swimmers at the Silverside swimming club and lessons for beginner swimmers at Jet Hotel, Kiwanga, Mukono.

Muluya has been swimming coach at UCU since 2013 and has prepared teams for the Uganda inter-university games in 2013 and the East African University games in 2014.

His team registered a medal haul of 2 silver medals and 9 bronze medals in 2013 and later 2 silver medals at the recent East African games. ?Being coach is interesting and tough. The swimmers see you as the bad guy during training and the good guy when they are successful at the competitions,? Muluya says.

A typical day for the swimming coach starts at 6am. By 9am he organizes detailed, personalized training programs for each of his swimmers before leaving for pool at 1:30pm.

He does personal training from 2:15pm to 4:15pm; he then trains swimmers from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. He has supper together with the swimmers at 7:30pm and then holds gym sessions for the girls between 8:30pm and 10:30pm.

?I hold gym sessions for the girls only at night as they are not comfortable with the open session in the morning hours. I leave for home at midnight every day after doing some architectural work,? he says.

?The biggest challenge in swimming is that it is an expensive sport. We have many potential swimmers in Mukono but they are cut out by the high cost.

?We need more pools in the country so that the cost of accessing swimming pools goes down,? he says.

By Samuel Sanya, The New Vision

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