SSA L2 Champs 2017 is quite a story. It is the third year that Monica swims this championship:
- March 2015 (Aged 8): Bronze in the Girls 12 & U 4 x 50 LCM relay
- March 2016 (Age 9):
This SSA Level 2 championship takes place at the end of March, beginning April every year. 3 or 4 weeks after Monica’s birthday (6th of March).
Level 2 Champs 2017 is also a 16 & Under championship. As a result, with Monica’s 10th birthday on 6 March, we entered the 10 & Under age group, despite the eight level 3 qualifying times Monica holds as Swimming South Africa has a rule which states the following:
Swimmers 10 years and younger are encouraged to swim Level 2 even if they have qualified for a higher level.
Due to the above rule, the young ten-year-old swimmers compete against swimmers closer to their 11th birthdays making this championship both challenging and mentally tough. Our motto, however, is that:
Age should not matter in swimming.
So all swimmers have to put their big girl panties on and fight for their spot on the podium.
Swimming at altitude – SSA L2 Champs 2017:
Swimming in South Africa is divided into 3 Regions. We live on the East coast of South Africa, therefore part of the Eastern Region ( FreeState, Mpumalanga, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Northern Cape.) End 2016 we received notification that the 2017 Championships will be held at the Penny Heyns Pool in Sasolburg.
We always have to consider that Monica is an asthmatic before we make swimming and travel decisions. Upon recommendation from our general practitioner, we applied at Swimming South Africa for Monica to swim in Germiston, as the air quality is better at the end March/April than that of Sasolburg.
We are up for a first altitude championship as Dellville is 1644 (5394 feet) meter above sea level.
Road trip to SSA L2 Champs:
Combining business with swimming is nowadays at the order of the day. It is a costly exercise to travel 600 km, therefore it always ends up being a business/leisure trip.
Mica and Mom depart a bit earlier in order to acclimatize and fit in business, friends and family meetings. Dad will travel up north 3 days before the gala and drive back home with us.
The road is so long and at times boring that we decide to have a bit of fun. Monica acts at cameraman while mom does the driving. Enjoy our video and some of the countryside between Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng. (Please subscribe to our channel if you like it!)
Preparation for SSA L2 Champs 2017:
We are strong believers in preparation. Enjoying a bit of time with family is always a great way to travel and we have the luxury of staying with our family (Monica’s godparents) in Pretoria.
Upon arrival, we realize how valuable the extra time at altitude is. Monica wakes up with a headache, sore throat and a tight chest, finding it tough to breathe. We stick to the asthma preventative medication and breathing improves after a couple of days – at least we have a week or so to recover before we swim the championships.
Our trip turns out to be down memory lane training at Hillcrest and other pools in the area.
Dad Coach Jan grew up in Waverley, one of the Tswane suburbs. Mom, on the other hand, moved from the farm to study, work and live in the city. During school going years, both Mom and Dad swam at Hillcrest swimming pool in Hatfield Pretoria.
Thursday evenings were club evenings and Mom traveled from Brits boarding school with the swim coach to compete at Hillcrest swimming pool. Dad was a bit luckier. He attended local schools so Thursday club evenings were part and parcel of the club’s training.
Needless to say, it is quite an experience for Monica to train at Hillcrest swimming pool. On day 4 we are forced to change our training venue as the pool is prepared for SSA Level 3 Championships scheduled for the weekend of 23-26 March 2017.
Training with a friend:
We opt for the closest pool to home. A little surprise awaits us! We share the pool with a family of Egyptian Geese!! Mom calls the pool the pond, as it is green and clearly requires chemicals other than pool acid. A nail-biting time for us as asthma is easily induced by chemicals. We do not really have another choice with training pools so we push through with our preparation.
Rebekah and her mom join us for a day of training before she swims the SSA L2 Champs 2017 in Sasolburg, which is scheduled for 23-26 March.
It is so great to have a friend to train with! Mama Coach ensures once again that the girls have some fun. A bit of play in the park at the pool after swimming followed by lunch with some of mom’s friends.
One week of training left before we move from Pretoria to Alberton where we will stay with some of our friends. ( 20-minute drive from Dellville pool)
Dad flies to Gauteng on Sunday 26 March. We collect him at the airport and enjoy a lovely lunch and visit with Monica’s surrogate granny in Johannesburg before we return to Pretoria.
Our trip down memory lane continues when dad arrives. We pay a visit to Voorpos Primary school where Coach Karel van Greuning still coach the squad dad swam for. Uncle Karel is kind enough to give us a lane and we come full circle as a family, the moment Mica trains at the school.
Our next update covers the journey to Germiston and the gala. Please share our post and story or continue to read the second part of SSA L2 Champs 2017 where we focus on our trip to the SSA L2 Champs and the swim meet itself.