Nurayn Bagha, the only open water champion in Kenya, won the 5km women’s competition in the FINA Open, as the two-day competition ended in Seychelles on Sunday.
For the second consecutive year, Mahe, the largest island in Seychelles, and its capital Victoria, were chosen as the location of the second leg of the FINA Marathon Swim World Series, with more than 81 athletes, both male and female representing 19 countries, taking the plunge in the warm waters of the West Indian Ocean.
Bagha finished the 5km race on Saturday around the open water course in Beau Vallon beach in one hour, 26 minutes and 44 seconds, beating two Seychellois nationals Naomi Adeline and Kalsey Belle who clocked one hour, 41 minutes and 43 seconds and one hour, 43 minutes and 53 seconds respectively.
This was her second international competition, having competed in a 5km open water competition in Namibia in February where she placed third with a time of one hour and 28 minutes.
Bagha also attempted her first 10km open water women elite race on Sunday where she clocked out after finishing more than 30 minutes behind the winner, Bridi Adrianna of Italy, who timed two hours, one minute and 33 seconds.
Turning her focus to the forthcoming African beach games in Cape Verde next month, Bagha is targeting early preparations to get in better form and in time for both the 5km and 10km races.
“I have learnt that hard work pays. It takes a lot of mental strength to just keep going and to keep at it, even when the only difference is minimal and probably only measurable in seconds. I have been practising for quite a while and it was a pleasant thing to win the 5km race,” she said.
“Attempting my first 10km race was a brave step that helped me gauge my strength against international swimming greats. I will continue training because I want to fly the Kenyan flag high in the coming games in Cape Verde,” added the 14-year-old Grade 10 student.