Ahmed Kamel el-Badry
While the majority of AUC students were indulging themselves with tons of meat over Eid, the university’s swimming team was involved in an engaging trip to Kenya where they competed against different universities from around the world in addition to discovering the beauty of a new culture.
The athletes took part in two competitions. One competition was against other participating universities from the USA and Kenya. The other was a lifesaving competition, which allowed the students to interact with local children ages 9-15, as well as demonstrate not only life saving skills, but also the importance of swimming in general.
The first tournament was held at Barclays Pool in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday Nov. 4 and was hosted by United States International University and, in addition to AUC, other contributing universities including the University of Nairobi and Jamo Kenyatta University.
The AUC team consists of sixteen swimmers: eight males and eight females, with Karim Shazly as the males’ captain and Dalia El Serafy as the females’ captain. Both have been with the team for a good number of years, so they hold the maturity to lead less experience swimmers. The team therefore has a nice blend of new and experienced swimmers.
The different skill levels of the team were demonstrated by AUC’s victory at the competition. By the end of their trip, they had the best record after all sixteen swimmers competed against the other universities’ swimmers.
Dr. Louise Bertini, the current coach of the swimming team, was ecstatic at the outcome, as she clarified why such a trip brings many benefits to the athletes.
“The trip benefited the team on many levels. It was not only a new group of swimmers to compete against, but also an opportunity for the team to experience altitude training, since Nairobi is at an altitude of just above 5,000 feet (about 1,550 meters). The team had never trained or competed at such a high elevation,” she says.
She continues by elaborating on the cultural aspects the team got involved in, as they interacted with the local children in Kenya as well as camped out in certain parts of the country.
“The trip also benefited the team culturally, as we not only got to experience the cultural differences both in the city and of Nairobi. We also had the opportunity to go camping in the Masaai Mara game reserve which ended up being a great team-building experience,” she explains.
Experience being the key word, since Bertini thinks such trips are so valuable to sports teams, believing that AUC should continue to create more trips for all the sport teams the university currently boasts.
“I do think the trips are a very good investment by AUC, not only for offering more opportunities to compete and represent AUC on an international level, but they provide opportunities in locations that the student might not get to visit otherwise. This offers students the opportunity to be exposed to new cultural, educational, and athletic experiences,” she shares.