Pre-season swim meets 2017-2018
We are very fortunate in KwaZulu Natal as we enjoy mild winters. Swimmers are, therefore, able to train and compete throughout the year. The rest of the country has cold winters which make training and racing challenging especially when the club is not using an indoor pool.
In 2017 we change swimming clubs. Monica joins North Coast Dolphins swim team. Dad Coach Jan continues to coach Mica daily at the pool in Amanzimtoti. We just swim for the new club with coach Dominique Donner as head coach. The biggest difference is that Monica joins her teammates on commitment-free Saturdays for training sessions in Ballito. Ballito is approximately 50 minutes’ drive from our home.
It is a great change and Monica just loves her new team. We can clearly see more effort in the pool this year.
Pre-season swim meets 2017-2018
The swimming season opens in May of every year and runs until April the following year. In December Monica tell us that she does not want to swim for medals anymore. This is music to our ears as she can focus on her times. It means we can set goals and she can work towards achieving the goals we set.
We sit down with Monica in May 2017, have a look at her personal bests and decide that we will set out with achievable times. We plan to update these goals every 3-4 months. Mom prints a copy of the goals and we put it up on her magnetic white board in her room in order for her to study her goals whenever she wants to.
Ethikwini Age Group 1 swim meet:
To date, we did not swim further than 200-meter in freestyle. We decide to enter Monica for the 400-meters Freestyle in Age Group 1 to get a base time and see how she handles the distance.
Being rested, swimming the 400-meters freestyle first, delivers and Monica swims a 5:25:51 at the meet. This time ends up a personal best for her and it secures Lane 4 for the 400 m freestyle at SSA L3 championships. This time is also an American 10&Under AAA SCY qualifying time. It is a great start to the season.
We do not have our kit yet, as we changed clubs. Mica swims with her L2 Championships cap until we get our kit.
Age Group 2:
200 Backstroke and 100 Freestyle for this meet. Monica breaks through 1:11 on the 100 Freestyle and swims a 1:10:85. It is a great relief after the difficult SSA L2 Championships in Germiston where we had to battle breathing problems and altitude changes. It is great to see Mica back on track with training starting to pay off.
Umgungundlovu Gala 2:
Our season starts with Umgungundlovu Age 2 as this swim meet has a 100 SCM IM. This is our annual Sunday out in Pietermaritzburg.
Monica is all geared up in her new swim cap making friends at this swim meet.
We run into Erin Gallagher and Ayrton Sweeney at the meet. They are raising funds to travel to World Champs 2017. It is another photo opportunity with one of the senior swimmers in the South African team and we make full use of the opportunity.
We have a couple of personal bests including the Women Open 100-meters IM in a time of 1:11:19 (SCY @ 1:04:14). This is exciting and we look forward so much to this coming season.
Having changed clubs, lead to Monica swimming in the first heat with no times. The fastest swimmers swim in the last heat. Swimming alone is not something unusual for Monica as she trains on her own. It shows at the swim meet and she wins the events by quite a margin.
Swimming for times is really working for us and Mica reach most of her goals set. Back to the drawing board with some tougher goals times!
TYR Prestige Swimming Championship
The annual TYR Prestige Swimming Championships is one of the biggest pre-season events. Top swimmers from around South Africa travel to Durban every year during the July holidays to swim some good times. The inland swimmers benefit from sea level swimming as we have more oxygen on the tropical East coast.
Besides the additional oxygen, we also have warmer temperatures and of course beaches with warmer water allowing some sea swimming!
We have a full schedule. 13 heats in total. Break it down over the four days and we swim 3-4 events a day. These meets are always tough on the swimmers and parents alike. We have to prepare food for four days, do timekeeping duty, sort our wet towels, swimsuits, and clothes during winter-time.
The stadium is packed (as usual) and we land a spot at an entrance. This, in hindsight, was not a good idea, but we will get to that part of our story.
Monica is on fire at this meet. She does not stand back for any of the inland swimmers regardless of their advantage. A Total of 12 medals – 5 Gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze (relays). Monica smashes her goal chart a second time with 12 Personal bests at this meet. She swam PB’s in the heats just to repeat it in the finals.
However, nothing could have prepared us for the 100 Freestyle final. The stadium is packed in the mornings as everybody swims heats. The swimmers that do not make finals enjoy some beach time.
The 100m freestyle final – and what a final it was!
Finals have 10 swimmers in the pool at a time. Therefore, the stadium is pretty empty at 17:00 pm when finals start. Monica and the swimmer from Gauteng played cat and mouse the whole gala. One for Gauteng, one for KZN. Mama coach does duty during the last session of the swim meet.
Timekeepers have a break and the swimmers swim the final events after the break. Mica walks up to me and says: “Mom, watch this race”. Now, folks, it is all fair and well to be on the pool deck while your kids are swimming. You, however, do not get to see their race as you need to focus on timekeeping. This race was pure agony for me as I knew Monica was up to something.
Monica won the event with an unexpected applause from the thinning crowd and I could only watch this race at home on video. Monica’s timing and the way she swam and surprised the competition in this meet was quite something for our 10-year-old swimmer. What a way to end TYR Prestige champs!
Pre-season swim meets leading up to KZN Junior Champs 2018
Personal best times were unfortunately not the only thing we took home after Prestige 2018. Soon after the gala, Monica falls ill. We just thought it was the normal winter colds and flu. As usual, fevers and chest infections follow.
This became the trend every six weeks following the gala. Mica recovers for a week or two and then has another setback. We know that due to her asthmatic condition, she is susceptible to every bug that does the round but this was a bit much.
We enter Mica for some meets just to have to scratch her as she is sick a couple of days before the meet. As a result, Mica did not swim until October.
In our next post, we address the mystery around Monica’s six-week illness cycle and the disastrous start to the official opening (KZN Junior Champs) of the 2017- 2018 season.