The difficult swim meet – taking a look back :
The annual Prestige swim meet took place from 5-9 July 2016 at the Kings Park Swimming pool in Durban. It is the third year that we swim this event. Monica started swimming Prestige swimming champs at the age of 7.
Level 1 & 2 swimmers do not have an opportunity to swim against their age group peers from the other provinces as there is no National age group championship in South Africa. The Prestige swim meet creates an opportunity for swimmers from all over South Africa and neighboring countries to meet up and compete, making Prestige championships the most difficult swim meet every year. Inland swimmers and their parents flock down to Durban every year for three reasons:
- Firstly, this gala takes place during the winter school holidays so most swimmers and parents combine the swim meet with a vacation.
- Secondly, the inland swimmers benefit from the altitude change allowing best times to be clocked.
- Thirdly, in many cases, it is the last swim meet where age groupers could earn their medals before their birthdays which result in the swimmers moving on to the next age group. It also serves as an opportunity for the fastest age groupers to make a name for themselves.
Prestige 2015 – Painful and difficult swim meet:
In 2015, Monica surprised us made finals in 5 10 & Under events. She was eight-years-old. Monica swam with a sprained foot which was quite painful when she did her turns. As a result, the first day of swimming did not go down well, but she recovered once she realized that the sprained foot does not hamper her too much.
The competition was very tight with some amazing times in the 10 & Under age group. The top 4 in every event swam level 2 qualifying times, leaving the younger swimmers out in the cold, feeling privileged to just make the finals.
Monica bit the bullet and swam heats and finals over the 5 day period. As Swim mom, I was caught unawares as we did not expect Monica to make finals. Being a 5-day gala, in the middle of winter, caused a lot of havoc. We had to rush back from the pool to wash and dry the wet towels. Cooking food was an issue as we thought we would be home by lunchtime and did not pre-cook food for a week. We arrived home after 19:00 pm daily, do the washing cook, prepare for the next day and sleep.
Make no mistake, a 5-day swim meet is long – prelims takes place in the mornings with finals in the afternoons, starting at 17:00 pm. That leaves not much time to drive back and forth to the pool and home. We ended up spending most of the day at the stadium, waiting for finals after the heats.
Monica swam her first level 2 qualifying time during this difficult swim meet in the 50 freestyle. She swam a 35:69 in the heats and confirmed this time with a 35:66 in the evening’s finals. In general, Monica ranked between position 5 and 8 in the 10 & Under finals. We did not care too much where she placed, it was just great that she managed to qualify for the finals at her young age.
Prestige 2016 – difficult swim meet with tough competition:
Monica did not have a good SSA L1 Champs in March 2016. We were not sure if she was just tired or if the tapering program did not render the desired results. At this stage, we are still experimenting to discover what works best for our swimmer.
During the Seals, short course meets in June we noticed that Monica was feeling good and she made a dash for best times. This time, mom was not going to be caught unaware as far as preparation is concerned. Prestige 2016 started on a Tuesday so I worked out a menu and cooked enough food to take us through the 5-day swim meet. The freezer was stocked and ready by Monday, the day before Prestige 2016.
Monica did not disappoint us. The competition was very stiff this year as the swimmers that traveled to Durban were ranked in the top 10 SSA rankings – the swimmer in Lane 4, for example, was ranked no 2 in the 10 & Under age group in the 50-meter freestyle. Monica ranked no 21 in this event.
Monica made finals again and we were delighted with the personal bests she delivered. In general, she touched fourth in most events. Her fellow swimmers were doing very well and were cleaning out the medal table.
Monica was on a roll swimming one personal best after the other. The medals, however, eluded her and it became difficult to keep our nine-year-old swimmer motivated and positive. We were delighted as she was swimming level 2 qualifying times, but she had her heart set on a medal.
On day 3 Monica surprised us with a third place by a touch in the 100 backstroke finals. She was so happy as it was really tough to compete against the top 10 & Under age group swimmers in the country. Monica did not care which color the medal was, she finally ended up with a medal in a time of 1:27:13.
Prestige 2016 ended up very good to us even though the whole family picked up a flu virus and we had to scratch from the last day of swimming due to Monica waking up with a high fever. It was a pity that we did not get a time for the 100-meter freestyle, but that would just have to wait for the next swim meet. Monica was quite upset – she was just forced to rest and get over the flu bug. There are many swim meets to come, but only 1 Monica – health is more important than swimming at times.
Monica swam 8 events in the 10 & Under age group, 2 events in the 12 & Under age group and 1 event in the 14 & Under age group.
Level 2 qualifying times in the following events:
- Girls 10 & U 100 m backstroke in a time of 1:27:13
- Girls 10 & U 200 m IM @ 3:09:02 (PB)
- Girls 10 & U 50 m Freestyle @ 34:24 (PB)
- Girls 12 & U 200 m Freestyle @ 2:49:09 (PB)
- Girls 14 & U 200 m Backstroke @ 3:12:84 (PB)
Personal bests in the following events:
- Girls 10 & U 50 m Backstroke @ 39:67
- Girls 10 & Under 50 m Breaststroke @ 48:25
- Girls 10 & U 100 m Breaststroke @ 1:47:10
- Girls 10 & Under 50 m Butterfly @ 38:88
- Girls 10 & Under 100 m Butterfly @ 1:37:83
The biggest lesson of all learned during this difficult swim meet is that Monica is able to stand her ground against the older and stronger swimmers. Age does not matter, just dive into the pool and do your best as that is good enough.
It is back to the training pool for us after a week of recovery from the flu. We will be paying more attention to butterfly and breaststroke as these two strokes still require some attention.
Job well done Mica – we are so proud of you!!