Drug-free sport and swimming

Drug-free sport, TUE what does it all mean?

swimming and drug free sport

Drug-free Sport South Africa made an user-friendly online tool and app available which will indicate whether medication is allowed or not.

Drug-free sport is becoming more and more important as athletes grow stronger posting faster times, setting new records and just overall playing a better game.  The officials and governing bodies are extremely strict and it is the responsibility of the athlete to ensure that nothing on the prohibited lists are taken or traces are found during testing.

We started our week on an upsetting note when we learned that one of the world’s best tennis players failed a drug test.  In her press conference, she admitted that she did not read an e-mail sent by WADA in January 2016 when the list of banned drugs.

Being a swim-mom is a huge job as you do not just have to make sure the swimmer eats correct and enough, gets enough rest and, in general, stay healthy, you also have to know about TUE’s and medication on the banned list and drug-free sport.

Asthma and drug-free sport.

This brings me to our own experience with a swimmer that suffers from asthma.  Yes, we all know at least one swimmer with asthma and it is more common than most people think.  Reason being, that swimming is still one of the best sports to play when you have a breathing condition as it is safe, improves heart and lung function and enhances the quality of life.

Drug free sport and asthmaAsthma is a completely controllable and preventable condition, not a death sentence.  Asthmatics in simple terms have a sensitivity to cold, dry air, any irritants in the air and pollution.  Asthmatics are encouraged to breathe through their nose and not their mouth as breathing through the nose will filter the air before it reaches the lungs and in the process most likely filter out any elements that will trigger an asthmatic response.

Swimming is a good sport as it strengthens the muscles used for breathing.  Inhaling warm, moist air is also good for the lungs as it will most likely decrease the chances of asthma. On the other side of the coin, exercise sometimes could also trigger an asthmatic reaction.  This brings us to the use of an asthma pump which contains chemicals preventing wheezing, tightness in the chest and in worst case scenario a bronchiolar spasm also known as an asthma attack.

The drug-free sport or safe list: how do we check?

In January 2016, we received an email from the SA Institute of drug-free sport indicating a change in the list of banned drugs by the World anti-doping agency.  The institute of drug-free sports South Africa launched an app and they updated their website with a tool anybody could use to check their medication status online.  It is really a simple and user-friendly online medication checking tool – you simply type the name of the medication into the search field and a color-coded response will tell you whether the medication is allowed or not.

Monica has 2 treatment regimes.  The one is preventative and the other when she is actually sick or her chest close up.  All the preventative medication is on the allowed list.  Two substances on the sick list are not allowed during competition (I was surprised with this as I thought the two cortisones will be completely banned).  We simply do not allow her to compete when she is sick.  This happened once in the past two years since she registered as a swimmer with SSA (NDSA gala in March 2016 and we withdrew from the event due to a closed chest).

TUE – Just another hint, swim-moms.  We carry a copy of the TUE completed by Monica’s GP with us at all times, regardless of the fact that the preventative medication is on the green or approved list.  A TUE is also submitted with entries as we like to be prepared in case of an emergency.

Drug-free sport

The online medication tool tells exactly what is allowed or not – click on this picture to go to the tool.

There is basically no excuse anymore with these user-friendly apps and tools which will ensure the athlete plays a fair and just drug-free sport.  It is not just the medical practitioner’s responsibility to stay up-to-date with the prohibited substances – they have most likely enough work as it is and it will take a specialist to stay up to date on the prohibited substances list.  It is also the responsibility of parents, swimmers, coaches and for that matter everybody else to ensure that we all are educated and knows what is going on in the business.

Last, but not least, when in doubt have the TUE completed and submit it.  Your GP and or Pediatrician will advise and they normally deal with a lot of cases similar to yours.  It is better to be safe than sorry as testing can be done at any time, any place.  Play fair, play drug-free sport!


All about that individual medley

Individual Medley (IM) : the day the 8-year-old placed first

IM or individual medley

On Sunday 21 February 2016, eight-year-old Monica won the Women 10 & Under 200 meter individual medley (IM) at the KZN level 1 Provincial championships.

Why is the individual medley so important?

In October 2015, Swimming South Africa released updated swimming competition rules. There is one important rule change which had everybody scrambling around, trying to swim qualifying times. The rule states:

Participation at the 2016 Level 1, 2 and 3 Age Group competitions, will be dependent on the swimmer having participated in a minimum of one (1) for Level 1 and two (2) for Level 2 and Level 3, 200m or 400m Individual Medley events or a combination thereof. These times for the 200m and 400m Individual Medley events must be official and be captured on the SSA National Database. The nominal purpose of this rule is to encourage younger swimmers not to specialise in specific strokes at too early an age as part our Long Term Participant Development programme. It is not compulsory for the swimmer to compete in the 200m or 400m Individual Medley event at the Championships.

In summary, all swimmers have to learn to swim and swim qualifying times in the individual medley before they could compete at any level championship.

Mica and the individual medleys:

Monica has a reputation as far as individual medley swimming is concerned. We are not quite sure where her love of this event started as she still battles to swim a level 1 qualifying time in the 100 m butterfly. The first sign that she had an affinity for this event was during the 2013 TYR Westville club gala where she set a new record in the 8 & Under age group aged 7-years in a time of 3:29:50.

Swimming South Africa Level 1 championships March 2015:

In March 2015, 20 days after Monica’s 8th birthday, Monica swam the SSA Level 1 Championships. We were shocked when she made the finals in the morning heat in a time of 3:17:14.

The same evening, during finals, Monica placed 8th/10 swimmers in a time of 3:17:51 in the Women 16 & Under 200m individual medley.  She really caused a stir by performing like this at her age.  We did not realize last year that it was only the beginning….

February 2016 KZN Level 1 championships:

I guess we should have expected that there would be a time when Monica steps onto the podium before age 10 to receive a gold medal for the 200 IM.  We do however teach Monica never to assume or expect that she would win.  There is always someone better and stronger than you at any given time.

In February 2016, Monica did just that.  There were 3 heats with 10-year-old swimmers in each.  Dad is our cameraman during these events.  Monica was swimming in the third and last heat with a seeded time of 3:16:92.  Bear in mind that all swimmers were equally tired by the second day as there was some hard racing taking place at the championships.  We watched the whole event unfold and knew after the backstroke turn based on her splits that she would have a good time.

True to her nature she found her rhythm and completed her win in 3:18:16.  What a moment of pride and joy for this young swimmer to take on the older swimmers.  Monica is slowly but surely earning respect from her fellow swimmers with her ability to stand her ground on any given day.200 individual medley