Swimming with Olympian Michelle Weber

Did you ever swim with an Olympian?

Swim with an Olympian

Swimming with Olympian Michelle Weber in January 2018

Dad and I drove down for the December holidays after a very tiring KZN Premier champs.  Our trip takes us from Durban on the East Coast, through the Free State to the Western Cape with a one-night stopover at Colesburg (half way).  Mom is working in Cape Town on contract and we will spend Christmas with Granny in a small place called Dwarskersbos, 12 km from Velddrif.

The first day is an eight-hour drive and we arrive safely in Colesburg.  The next day will be a nine-hour drive to Dwarskersbos.  It is very sad to see how dry it is everywhere.
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Swim training or playing for motivation?

Swim training or playing? ~ in this article we take a look at a different approach with swimming in the new 2017-2018 season.  How do we keep our young swimmer motivated?

Swimming playing or trainingNew swimming season, new beginnings for our swim family.  There is a sense of excitement in our household despite winter arriving with a big bang a week or two ago.

Swim training in winter

Snow report – May 2017

One day we still play training on the beach and the next we are sipping hot chocolate under a blanket as snow fell in the mountains and we get the icy cold wind down the coast.

We have a rested swimmer, SSA registrations for the 2017-2018 season is done and we changed clubs.  Yes, we decided that a change will be as good as a holiday for our swimmer.

This is also a time of year (April/May) when we take a look at everything we do and apply changes where needed. Time to set goals for the new season.

Nurturing a love for healthy living and swimming as a sport is at the forefront. We know how much Monica still loves swimming after 3 years of hard work, dedication, and competitive swimming.  We are also winning the race against asthma and chronic illness as a result of swimming with a healthier, happier, stronger Monica.

Swim Club change:

North Coast Dolphins swimming clubWe joined North Coast Dolphins Swim team as of 1 May 2017.  NC Dolphins is a new club with the first season (2016-2017) behind them.  It is a small, family-oriented club. We really like this as it fits in so well with what we teach our swimmer:

“Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It’s not about winning. It’s about you and your relationship with yourself, 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 you did everything you could. ” ~ Coach Gary Gaines

NC Dolphins Swim Team is run under the auspices of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation South Africa. There are 3 squads with highly experienced coaches. Terence Parkin and Dominique Donner.

Monica will, however, still receive coaching from Dad Coach Jan.  NC Dolphins trains in Ballito on the North Coast. We live, work and train in Amanzimtoti on the South Coast (51 minutes drive one way.)  Distance is still an issue.

Swim training or playing as part of motivation:

Swim training I want to focus on some aspects of swim training vs playing in the process of staying motivated.  How do we keep our young swimmer motivated?  How do we nurture the love for swimming?

This article circulated the other day on social media:

25 most likely reasons swimmers quit.

Pressure and athletes/swimmers:  As swim mom, I must say that the swimming community never seizes to amaze me.  There are two camps.  The naysayers and the yeasayers.

One would think that the whole swimming fraternity gets behind young swimmers that excel.  The 2016 US female team consisted of 8 veterans and 14 newcomers.  Michelle Weber was the only female swimmer (open water) on the RSA team in 2016.

Everybody talks about the fact that South Africa needs more female swimmers – especially ones that swim A qualifying times! There is, therefore a lot of spots open on the team.  Do not worry at the age of 10,11, 12+ whether or not you are going to make it!

At the end of the day, it does not matter which club you swim for.  Swimmers end up representing a province, region or country.  We should teach our kids that we all stand for one thing at an early age:

The love of swimming.

Set aside the negative comments when someone does well.  Congratulate your teammates and inspire each other to do better as individuals and as a team.  Stop worrying about the Olympics when you are young – focus on your times and do your best.

 Best is good enough.

Maintain childhood in swimming – how do we do it?:

To me, as a swim mom, all swimmers are different.  I am sure if someone does a survey they would find a lot of reasons kids swim.

The point is this.  I think we should all ask ourselves which type of swimmer we have.  How do we do right by our children and preserve their childhood without pressure?

The answer: Once you know which type of swimmer your child is, build their strengths and turn weaknesses into opportunities.

Our Example:

We know that Monica has an extreme love for water and training.  She also loves the beach.  Instead of doing dry-land training in the gym, we go to the beach on beautiful days and we let her just have fun.  Yes, we do core strength but she does not mind that.

There is a burst of energy on the beach when she plays in the water, runs to heart’s content, yells at the top of her lungs until she is exhausted.

We just have a lot of fun and laughter when she plays training on the beach.  Super child, super day, super happiness and super motivated.

Swim training or playing – take away:

Therein lies the answer.  Sometimes the athletes do not need more training to improve.  They need playing to preserve their childhood.  This builds incredible memories where training is not punishment but something they just love to do.

When kids love something, they want more of it.  When they get more fun and enjoyment out of training they grow into highly motivated optimistic individuals.

 The sky is the limit. You can do everything you set your mind to and work at it.

Pick a day in training, make it a huge surprise and let rip!  Make swim training, playing!

Please share this post if you like it or comment below – we would love to hear your opinion or experience!


Paying Success Forward – a simple act of kindness

Competitive swimming and paying success forward:

Paying success forward is a cornerstone principle to us as swim parents. It is an important process to nurture our swimmer as a person (and not just an athlete.)  It keeps her grounded and humble.

Swimming is like a toffee apple.  Tough to eat, but sweet and soft on the inside.  It is a long, hard road which requires more than the average amount of commitment, work, and endurance.

We are blessed with a youngster willing to do the work, make the sacrifices at a young age and commit to the long-term plan.

The beginning of paying success forward

Paying success forward through an act of kindness.

March 2016.  It is our third year of swimming and Monica established herself as a provincial swimmer following the KZN Provincial championships in February 2016.

Paying swimming success forward

Monica pays her success forward to her best friend at the Kloof MiniLympics in March 2016.

Our neighbor and Monica’s best friend (Amber) receives a certificate at her school for the “Most improved swimmer”.  At this point in time, our town does not have training and coaching facilities. (Dad continues his ASCA coaching qualification in order to continue Monica’s training.)

As a result, we (Mom and Mica), decides to help her with some stroke correction in a very informal way.  We have great fun helping Amber at her home pool.

The girls enter a fun swim meet called the MiniLympics. Monica does very well at the meet and she decides to give one of her medals to her Amber with the instruction to earn her own next time they swim.

We spend Saturdays at Amber’s house helping her with her strokes, practicing starts and turns until May when winter sets in.  Swim training like this is great fun and we become a great team

During the winter of 2016, the sessions continue at the gym where there is a heated pool.  We take every week as it comes as Monica’s best friend has other commitments than just swimming (school, dancing, winter sport etc.)

Growing our effort to inspire other swimmers:
WSC September 2016

WSC fun gala September 2016 – silver and bronze medals for our best friend.

September 2016:

The girls enter the Westville Swimming Club fun gala.  This was Monica’s first ever swim back in 2013.  As a result, WSC fun gala holds special meaning to us.

The meet goes very well despite rain and cold weather.  Amber earns a silver and bronze medal.

We are so proud of her achievement and express the wish to build on her success – she becomes highly motivated and told us that she would also like to win all her events including the 100-meter IM.

Monica advises that, in order to do so, she will have to learn to swim butterfly and attempt to swim an individual medley.

Inspiring fellow swimmer

October 2016. Monica pays her success forward to a swimmer from Gauteng

October 2016:
Seagulls SC winter champs.

Monica makes a new friend from Gauteng (Alexia).  She stays with us while swimming Seagulls winter champs and the two girls become close friends.

Even though she wins her swimming heats, medals elude Alexia and she becomes very despondent.  Monica decides to give her gold IM medal to her friend as motivation.

The concept grows as she tells Alexia that once she wins medals, she has to inspire someone else by paying her success forward.

Alexia has to work hard in the coming year in order for her to swim for her own medal at Seagulls SC champs 2017.  The girls stay in touch and we will keep our diary updated.

Inspiring friend to swim IM

Seagulls fun gala December 2016. Our friend completes her first 100-meter IM. Mica pays medal forward.

December 2016:
We enter Amber and Monica into the Seagulls fun gala.  Our friend is entered for her first 100-meter IM.  She completes the event and we are so proud of her.

Monica decides to keep the motivation going and she gives her friend her gold IM medal.

The medal comes with a motivational message: Let’s work on breaststroke and butterfly, in order to improve the IM.  

The next goal is set.

Paying success forward in 2017:
Inspiring young swimmers

Monica handing over one of her gold medals.

End January 2017: Our family travels to Richards Bay to swim Ushaka championships.  It is just a fun weekend away for us.  Monica cleans the medal table with some 9-and-under meet records.  She decides to pay her success forward once again by giving a medal to Pongola Swimming Academy.

We leave it up to PSA to decide who the swimmer is that always try hard but just never make the podium.  Monica befriends her fellow 9-year-old swimmers at Ushaka champs and we stay in touch with the club.


Paying success forward works

February 2017:
Amber swim trials and is chosen to represent her school’s swim team.  We attend the Inter-house gala.

She swims like a superstar in the 11 & Under age group.

The school awards the 11 & Under Freestyle ELCOX Cup and the DAWE trophy for 11 & Under Backstroke to her as she won these events. What an amazing turn of events and it all started with one simple act of kindness……

All things considered, we did not expect this turn of events.  This project just became fun.  We aim to continue to inspire those around us and will update this site with news as we pay our success forward.