USHAKA Championships 2017 Swim Meet Road Trip

USHAKA Championships 2017 Richards Bay

USHAKA Championships 2017 takes place on 28 & 29 January this year.  A very excited Monica is awaiting our departure to swim this championship this weekend.

In 2015, at the age of 7, we attended this championship for the first time.  Monica made us very proud as she earned 4 gold medals in the 9 & under age group.

Richards Bay is a 2-3 hour drive North on the East coast of South Africa which is very tropical.  January is summer season and temperatures soar around 35-37 deg Celcius with a 70-75% humidity.  Extreme temperatures to compete in.

Flashback 2015:

USHAKA Championships 4 Gold medals 2015Most swim meets are a learning curve.  At age 7, we aimed to swim as many possible meets in order for Monica to gain experience.

In 2015 we got a little more than what we bargained for.  Firstly. Monica experienced her first cramp during the freestyle at this meet.  Most likely caused by the heat, humidity and slight dehydration we all experienced.  Monica remained calm and swam through the cramp – exactly what she is supposed to do.

The Saturday evening was, however, a nightmare.  Despite all the fluid intake, our swimmer experienced dehydration.  She had a headache, nausea leaving us very concerned.  We managed to keep it all under control and Monica enjoyed a smashing meet the next day.

USHAKA Championships 2017:

We decided to swim this meet in January due to a couple of reasons:

  1. Our little racehorse cannot stay in the stable too long and it is, therefore, important to keep her in the water, racing.  Early January and Monica says:

     I feel like racing (Music to our ears)

  2. In March 2017, we will do another road trip to Gauteng to swim the SSA L2 Championships – it one of the three National championships that take place in the 3 swimming regions in South Africa (Eastern Region, Central Gauteng, and Western Cape).  The pool in Germiston is an open pool.  We, therefore, use this swim meet in preparation for the March championships as it the meet takes place in an open pool.
  3. Swimming a meet after nearly 3 months (resting over the festive season, training in January) shows us what we need to work on.  Slow starts is an issue as we do not have starting blocks to train starts.  Swimming meets is a good way of training starts.
  4. We plan to make a video of this road trip to share on social media.  Enjoy our flashback to Ushaka champs 2015.


Childhood cancer’s 100 Gold ribbons Swim To Inspire

It is January 2017.  Swim training started last week and we are receiving our first swim meet entries for January.  It is time for me to note our contribution to Childhood cancer in 2016 before we start the remaining 3 months of the 2016-2017 season.  We hope you find this post inspiring and join the cancer awareness campaigns to increase awareness.

September is not just the month when we celebrate spring.  It is also the month when the swimming season officially starts with the biggest Junior swimming event in our province:  KZN Junior champs.

In 2015 Monica pledged all her races to the Go Gold September childhood cancer awareness project, and we made the same commitment and pledge in 2016.  This time around we decided to do more than just swim for cancer, we also decided to make 100 Gold ribbons and hand them out at the Junior champs.

Why do we support childhood cancer?

As a mom, I firmly believe that every child should learn how to support a worthy cause.  In our case, we choose childhood cancer due to Monica’s early childhood (birth to age 6) health battles.

For our first-time readers, Monica suffers from respiratory problems.  In the early days, it manifested as chronic pneumonia.  At age 2 her tests included full blood work checking for any signs of cancer.  We are forever grateful for the negative results but will never forget the stressful time.

Today Monica is healthy even though she is using preventative medication for asthma (diagnosed at age 6) with no signs of pneumonia.

Besides our own challenges, we do identify with the difficulty families face dealing with sick children, not just children suffering from childhood cancer.

Making 100 Gold ribbons:

Childhood cancer awareness ribbonsWe, therefore, decided that we want to support this cause in the best possible way we can.  Supporting a cause is not always about money or raising funds.

Setting an example, making ribbons, telling people around us about childhood cancer is also a way to contribute – sometimes creating awareness achieve more than the penny dropped into the tin.

Making the ribbons is such a fun activity!  We made a template and Monica cuts the ribbons.  Mom sews the beads and the pins onto the ribbons.  A true team effort.

It took a bit of time but by KZN Junior champs, we had 100 ribbons ready for distribution.

 KZN Junior champs 2016:

Gold ribbons for childhood cancerThe day arrives and we hand out our ribbons to friends, coaches and parents around the pool.  It is very well received and at one stage we think we are going to run out of ribbons, but thankfully there were enough.

Monica enhances her effort by swimming in a gold and black swim-suit, cleaning out the medal table, winning the top 9-year-old female trophy.  Setting an example in every possible way.KZN junior champs gold suit

One thing that struck me was the number of people that said they knew of someone suffering from cancer. Some sad stories were shared but most of all we think we achieved our goal which is to create awareness, spread love and support for those that are fighting their battles.

Many thanks to all the clubs, parents, and coaches supporting our effort!

Cancer – the good news in 2017:

The American Cancer Society released a report in January stating that the death rate is down 25% since 1991. One wonders what the statistics show in South Africa and the rest of the world?

Nothing like a bit of good news and a great way to start 2017.  Let’s keep up our effort and spread the word!
Gold in September cancer awareness


2017 Swim Season New Year message

2017 swim season – New Year message

2016 in Review:

2017 Swim season is ahead of us.  The time has come to take a moment to look back at 2016. We realize that it is still one of the most challenging swimming years we have had to date as Monica, aged 9, competed in the 10 & under, 12 & under and 14 & under age groups.

In 2017 she will continue to swim these events but at least be closer to her 10th birthday, therefore a bit stronger.

Our swimming seasons start in May of every year with pre-season racing taking place until September.  September to March is the official swimming season.  We are at the moment 3 months away from the flagship event – the 2017 SSA L2 Championships.

Our best swim in 2016 remains the unexpected meet record in the 200 LCM freestyle during Action swim champs.  We admire the ease and control Monica maintained during this swim.  The Seagulls 200 SC IM where Monica swam sub 3 minutes takes second place in our top races for the year.  It is a tough choice but third place goes to the TYR hat-trick in the 200 LCM IM.  Great swimming in a year which is supposed to be an offseason.

Competitive swimming in 2016-2017:

Towards the end of 2016, younger swimmers emerged challenging Monica in her races.  We are delighted to see these swimmers come through the ranks due to three reasons:

  1. It is good for female swimming to see young age group swimmers raising the standard, working hard and smart resulting in faster times.
  2. The competition is good for Monica – we find it interesting to see how much harder she is willing to push herself during competitive races.
  3. Commitment – Monica demonstrated a new level of commitment to swimming and training.  She wants to be fit and strong to meet any challenge that comes her way.  She is willing to do the work.

We are, as a result of this renewed commitment, entering the last 3 months of the 2016-2017 swim season with a stronger, highly motivated, committed and healthier than ever, age group swimmer.

Health and dealing with asthma as a swimmer:
Provincial champs 2016

February 2016 saw Monica achieve 6 x 8 & U Provincial records ad 2 x 10 & Under Provincial meet records, despite a battle with asthma during the event.

February and March of every year is a bumpy ride for our family.  We are working closely with our doctors to keep Monica as healthy as possible.  The heat, humidity and season changes, do, however, present us with a relentless challenge.

We trust that this year will be different due to a couple of reasons.  Monica has 8/10 possible level 3 qualifying times.  She is, therefore, not allowed to swim the Provincial championships in February where she battled with asthma last year.

We hope that she would avoid any asthmatic incidents by not having to compete in February, leaving her stronger and healthier for the SSA champs in March 2017.  It is still a challenge every year but we are learning every step of the way.

Our appreciation:

We would like to end our family’s New Year message with the following quote from a Michael Phelps motivation video.  Our hearts are filled with pride and immense gratefulness for the coaches, friends, family, and fans that believe in Monica’s ability, the work she puts in and her love for the sport with this quote:

To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends.  

Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down, because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything that you could. There wasn’t one more thing that you could’ve done. ~ football Coach Gary Gaines.