UK's Sean Gunn to swim for Zimbabwe in 100-meter freestyle at the Olympics

Published: Jul. 11, 2016 at 4:58 PM EDT
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Kentucky senior Sean Gunn got the call this morning that he has been selected to swim for his home country of Zimbabwe in the 2016 Olympic Games. The Harare native will compete in the 100-meter freestyle, an event in which he is the national record holder.

When he got out of the pool after his morning practice, Gunn noticed that he had 16 missed calls and feared that he had an error on one of the many forms he had to fill out to be considered for the Zimbabwe Olympic Team. Gunn explained that he was being inundated with calls for a much better reason, saying, “then they called me and they were like, ‘better pack your swimsuit because you’re going to Rio.”

Gunn is one of just two Zimbabwean swimmers who will be performing at the Olympics, along with three-time Olympian Kirsty Coventry. The top African Olympian in history in any sport, Coventry claimed gold in the 200-meter backstroke in both 2004 and 2008 and has also won four silver and one bronze at the Olympics.

The selection process for Zimbabwe is different than the United States, which appoints Olympic Team members out of the Olympic Trials. Coventry automatically qualified in August 2015 with a swim in the 100m back, leaving any remaining spots left to the discretion of the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA, International Swimming Federation). Gunn was selected out of a number of other competitors who specialized in a variety of strokes based on a higher number of FINA points, which he accrued by swimming in various international competitions such as the World Championships, All-Africa Games, and Zimbabwe Nationals. At the national championships this summer, Gunn was the national champion in all his events, further helping his chances at being selected.

Gunn will leave for Rio at the end of the month, and will swim the prelims of the 100 free on August 9.