Rwanda Swimming Federation president Pamela Girimbabazi has backed local swimmers to shine at the much-awaited 8th Africa Aquatics Zone 3 Swimming Championship which kicks off at Gahanga Swimming Pool, Kigali, on Thursday. The three-day regional swimming competition, which runs through Saturday, November 25, has attracted 261 swimmers from 10 countries namely South Africa, Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Eswatini and host nation Rwanda. Somalia, Sudan and Malawi withdrew from the competition for unknown reasons. According to Girimbabazi, 60 of the participants are from Rwanda, making the hosts arguably the highest represented country in the competition. READ ALSO: Swimming: 30 selected for Africa Zone III championship The event has been organized well and we believe that our athletes will win medals and we have a good team of 60 swimmers who can do it. I am confident the selected athletes will make the country proud, the former international swimmer told the press on Tuesday. In the past three years, Rwandan swimmers have been competing in major international swimming competitions, including the Olympic Games, but none of them has managed to achieve any meaningful success. But Girimbabazi believes that the swimmers have improved their level of performance which put them in good position to win medals, starting with the Zone 3 tournament. “We staged auditions, competitions and good training and the results showed that the athletes are in good shape for the tournament where we expect to see them winning big in this championship, she said. Selected swimmers, men and women, will compete at the event from junior to senior levels. The athletes are currently camping at La Palisse Hotel in Nyamata. ALSO READ: Niyomugabo optimistic ahead of Aquatics championships The competition, now in its eighth edition, is organized by the Africa swimming governing body, Africa Aquatics, and serves as a qualifying event for the Commonwealth Games and Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Participants will compete in various categories including Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly, while the Distances are 50, 100, 200, and 400 meters. The organisers will award the top three every day but they will award the best swimmer and best team at the end of the tournament. Africa Aquatics Zone 3 Swimming Championship was initially scheduled to be held in Sudan but, due to security issues, it was relocated to Rwanda who last hosted a similar competition in 2016.