Ask anyone who’s seen Orange’s Francesca Chitukudza at work and they’ll all tell you her constant success is built on a number of vital qualities – she’s a tenacious trainer, she’s as humble as the day is long and she just loves swimming, to name a few.
More than anything though, she’s just fast.
She proved that again late last month at the School Sport Australia National Championships at Hobart, shrugging off nerves in her maiden appearance for NSW to bring two medals home.
She finished second in the girls’ 200-metre individual medley and also won a bronze medal in that division’s 100-metre butterfly event as well.
“I was pretty excited,” she smiled.
“I wasn’t really expecting to do that well. I’ve never been [at that level] before so I wasn’t used to it, it was my first time with NSW.
“I just wanted to go and do my best and try and swim faster than I had at my other carnivals, because you don’t know what everyone else can do and it’s a lot harder.”
She shaved more than six seconds off her seed time in the medley final, clocking 2.34.87 to finish a little over a second behind gold medallist Taryn Roberts, from Queensland.
“I didn’t know where I was for the first two laps, but on the third and fourth laps I just kind of looked around and I was near the front,” Chitukudza smiled.
The Orange Public School star qualified for the butterfly final in fourth, clocking 1.10.33.
Although she couldn’t quite catch first and second finishers Olivia Wunsch (1.06.25) and Sally Vagg (1.06.45) in the final, she still took more than two seconds off her qualifying time to push into third.
Chitukudza touched the wall in 1.08 flat to win the bronze medal, and in a show of her modest nature made a point of thanking a number of people who contributed to her success.
“I’d like to thank the community, (City of Orange Swim Club coach) Tanya (Chapman), (OPS principal) Mr (Bradley) Tom, they all really supported me,” she said.
Chitukudza now turns her attention to the Swimming NSW 12 and Under State Age Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, in early September.