Kenyan swimmer Swaleh Talib has let his displeasure with the way the country’s national swimming federation has been operating be known.
After failing to meet multiple deadlines for elections, the Kenyan Swimming Federation (KSF) received an indefinite suspension from FINA in May, and then at the recently-concluded World Championships in Budapest, a three-member ‘stabilization committee’ was appointed to run the federation for the remainder of the year.
The KSF’s difficulties at the top have had a trickle-down effect on the athletes, particularly so in the ability to compete at major championship meets.
The KSF hosted its national trials for the Commonwealth Games in Kasarani Nairobi, Kenya, on May 6-9, where the top four male and top four female swimmers based on FINA points would be named to the team for the Commonwealth Games, which will begin in Birmingham, England, later this month.
Talib, who attends the University of Stirling in Scotland, was among the men to meet that criterion.
However, the Kenyan Olympic Committee then released budget cuts which resulted in the Commonwealth team being cut in half, with only the top two male and two female swimmers able to head to Birmingham.
Emily Muteti, Imara Bella Thorpe, Ridhwan Mohammed and Monyo Maina were the four swimmers that remained on the Commonwealth roster, while Talib was among those knocked out.
With the top names opting not to compete at the World Championships, where Kenya’s swimmers could only race as neutrals due to the suspension, Talib turned his focus there, and went on to race the men’s 50 free and 100 free in Budapest.
Previously, SwimSwam reported that there was a controversy surrounding the selection of Kenyan athletes to the Commonwealth team who trained abroad, which Talib says is not the case. It was simply the budget cuts that removed him, and a few others, from the roster.
The 22-year-old also said that certain KSF stakeholders were lobbying for all four swimmers on the women’s team to compete at the Commonwealth Games in hopes of winning a medal, but not the men.
“It is unfair for stakeholders to be fighting for only the female team to attend and not the initial team of eight swimmers, including the men,” he said.
“There are certain stakeholders who are making the election process harder to achieve and making it harder for the working group to accomplish certain goals to get the suspension lifted. If the same stakeholders gain a position in the federation it will be a disaster and it will be the death of Kenyan swimming.”
The new stabilization committee, head up by former South African Swimming Federation President Jace Naidoo, is slated to conduct a proper election for the KSF board of directors in the coming months.
“At this point, I have been one of the swimmers most affected by the situation and it’s not fair for me to be silent about it anymore,” Talib added.
“I only want a better future for the upcoming swimmers in Kenya and stop them from having to go through what the past generation of swimmers have gone through.”