Donata Katai
Donata Katai.jpg
BornDonata Katai
Avenues Clinic, Harare
EducationGateway High School
Known forBreaking a 21 year 100m backstroke record set by Kirsty Coventry
  • Luigi Katai (father)
  • Desdemona Katai (mother)
FamilyJoshua, Christian and Lynale
AwardsCANA Junior African Swimming Championships Gold Medals in Tunisia

Donata Katai is a Zimbabwean young swimmer and currently studying at Gateway High School. Donata is Italian for gift. Donata won several medals in recent Championships held within the region and beyond. She made history at the South Africa National Junior Championships in Durban by beating a 21-year old 100m backstroke record set by Kirsty Coventry.


Katai was born on 07 May 2004 in Harare. She is currently a student at Gateway High School in Zimbabwe.[1] “One day we were having a family braai and my stepdad saw her in the swimming pool and at that time her brother was a very good breaststroker, but she seemed to be challenging him,” Donata’s mother Desdemona revealed. Her uncle noted that she had an unusual stroke and she seemed to glide through the water and he suggested that they take the child for further swimming lessons. They did that and then she went on to break Coventry’s first age group record for Mashonaland when she was just seven. Since then, Donata has been breaking records with easy frequency and at the school event, she broke records in every individual competition she took part in. “She has done very well so far. What we have been doing is set targets for her. Two years ago we started talking about this year (2019), ie, the Junior World Championships and Africa Junior Championships. We sat down and started working towards getting to those events and setting the targets,” Luigi, her father, said.

A number of top swimming colleges in the US have been monitoring Donata and she is set to join one of them soon on a swimming scholarship.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics

She is basking in the glory after taking part in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in July 2021. In fact, she has become the first black Zimbabwean swimmer to compete at the Olympics. In an interview, she said that she picked priceless lessons at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan which will help her develop her career further. She finished 34th in the overall ratings out of 41 swimmers, but posted a personal best time in the event.[2]


2019 CANA Junior African Swimming Championships, Tunisia

  • Gold 100m backstroke
  • Gold 50m backstroke
Donata Katai Gold Medal In Tunisia

2019 South Africa National Junior Championships, Durban.

  • Beat the 21 year old 100m backstroke record and won a Gold medal in the process

2018 South Africa National Junior Championships, Durban.

  • Gold medal 50m Butterfly.[3]

2017 South Africa National Junior Championships, KZN.

  • Gold and Bronze.[4]

2019 Zimbabwe Junior Sportsperson of the Year.[5]


While she has excelled in swimming, Donata is a multi-talented athlete who also tops in tennis, hockey, basketball and athletics at school. She is also an “A” student at school. Away from swimming, Donata loves her sleep more than anything else although she has other interests like any other normal teenager. “I like sleeping a lot and activities that don’t require too much physical strain like reading, playing video games. I play a lot of games and also hanging out with my friends,” revealed Donata.


  1. Munyaradzi Madzokere, [1],The Standard, Published: 01 October 2019, Retrieved: January 7, 2020
  2. Tafadzwa Zimoyo, [2],Herald, Published: 30 July 2021, Retrieved: July 31, 2021
  3. [3],SwimZim, Published: 24 March 2018, Retrieved: January 7, 2020
  4. [4],SwimZim, Published: 22 March 2017, Retrieved: January 7, 2020
  5. [5],The Herald, Published: 30 January 2020, Retrieved: January 30, 2020