Swim mom and training buddy
Swim mom, training buddy and chief cook & bottle washer…
This is a swimming family with water running in our veins. Not only did Dad Coach Jan have his day in the pool but swim Mom too.
Swimming started in the 1970’s at school level. Provincial swimming (North West Province) and Speedo SA Nationals in 1982 – freestyle and butterfly.
1986: Team up with two female friends and for fun, did the Perm Visa Radio 5 Triathlon series, which the team won.
1987: Choose between distance (Iron Man) and standard triathlons. Start training for individual Olympic distance Triathlons and open water swimming.
1994: Place 4th in the female open category at the National Olympic distance Triathlon championships, which was held in Gordon’s Bay in South Africa.
I swim with Monica whenever I can. It is fun and Monica enjoys the company as she trains on her own. We will always have a special bond when it comes to swimming. Her earliest memories of swimming are with mom at the salt water pool in Amanzimtoti. Monica learned to pace with me before we started stroke correction in 2012/2013.
This is more than just a sport. Our family share a love for water. Monica loves swimming and cannot stay away from a pool, irrespective of competition or swimming at home.
2016 Fun team triathlon after 24 years!
Sport and swimming highlights:
2016 – Tin Man fun triathlon swimmer – 1,000 m sea swim
1994 – SA National Olympic Distance triathlon championships – Senior women – Placed 4th
1994 – Northern Transvaal Triathlon Senior Women Team -Provincial championships Port Elizabeth
1993 – 50km Cullinan diamond cycling race 1st place & Mini Blood sweat and tears overall short course triathlon winner
1992 – Third annual Bronkhorstbaai 1500 meter swim – Northern Transvaal Masters swimming – 24 mins 20 sec
1992 – Mini man series senior women overall winner
1991 – Perm Visa Radio 5 overall winners Senior Woman’s Team
1990 – SA Masters senior Women’s swimming team (Northern Transvaal / Provincial)
1988 – Northern Transvaal (Provincial) biathlon team / SA champs
1982 – North West Province swim team / Speedo SA National Champs L.C. de Villiers
1974-1982 – School swimming (colors)
Swim mom, life coach, and writer
I love being a swim mom and use my skills as a digital writer to write swim content and share our story.
Coaches have this saying that parents should parent and coaches should coach. Yip, we hear you. However, what do you do if you know you have the right mix in your swimmer and nobody out there is willing to help or even listen?
In 2013 when Monica was six, we ended up without a pool, a club, and a coach. I spent most of my time looking for an existing pool in order to get a coach to open a club in Amanzimtoti.
We just faced closed doors and not even one window opening for us to keep this swimmer in the water and give her equal opportunity. At that point, we decided that if nobody else is interested, we just have to jump in and do it ourselves.
We will not give up and we will not fail our swimmer.
Today we look back and we look at our existing team which consists of our small family and we are very thankful that we did not ignore, neither gave up on this swimmer’s dream.
What about the future? (Frequently asked questions and answers)
We have a lot of people asking the questions below as Monica is entering her teens. Here is my take as her swim mom on it:
- Are you not pushing Monica too hard?
Monica is not pushed. Feel free to speak to her at any time. She wants to swim – nobody seems to get it. She is committed, hardworking, passionate and the driving force behind her swimming, this blog, videos, and social media which I merely manage for her until she is old enough to take over. I am an expressive driver – you will know when I push her and I tell everybody right now that we do not have to push and drive her. She is doing it herself. It is her dream and she is simply working on it relentlessly. Keep in mind that we did not start swimming to win medals. We started swimming to strengthen Monica’s lungs in order for her to have a better quality of life as an asthmatic. A final point on the medal and the pushing issue is that Monica decided in December 2017 (age ten) that she wants to swim for times and not medals. We now set achievable goals with her and she works towards achieving her goals. The next step would be for her to set her own goals. I am guiding and helping her, teaching her how to set goals and how to achieve them. There is a huge difference between working towards goals and being pushed when you do not want to do something.
- Crash and burn in the teens:
We do take note of the comments about burn-out and we appreciate the concern everybody has about keeping Monica swimming throughout her high school years. However, we do have an agreement with Monica that she may take a break whenever she feels the need. My take as swim mom on this is that we will not force her to keep on swimming competitively when she is not 100% committed. What is the point in that? (PS. I know she cannot stay away from the water…. banking on that.)
We always think the kids do not listen, but they do. They know parents have a fear of puberty. To me, puberty is the bridge between being a child and becoming an adult. Are we going to let our swimmer cross this bridge on her own or are we going to help her across it?
This is just a personal issue but I just think if we express fear of puberty in front of our teens all the time, they react to it. Yes, it is a time when they realize they do have an opinion and start expressing it. As her swim mom, I am listening not just hearing.
Monica, at the age of 11 is making a lot of sense and she even gave dad coach some valuable feedback from the water. Mica started calling me Mama Coach lately and said that Dad is her swim coach while mom is her life coach.
I am proud to have earned that title and hope that it stays that way. In summary – she will, just like myself, most likely spend most of her time during puberty in the pool. We will take every challenge as it comes and handles it. If we are not able to handle it ourselves, we will get help. That is my take on puberty
- What about later on when she swims National times? Will you still coach her?
Coaches, clubs and teams may come and go but we will always be her swim parents.
She knows that. The love and passion for the sport will not dwindle regardless of the level Monica decide to swim to. We do know that there will come a time to let her go.
- Are you not pushing Monica too hard?
For now, while she is young, nobody seems interested or even looking. We will continue to do our best for her and keep her best interest at heart.
This is another bridge we will cross when we get to it. In the meantime, we are having the time of our lives, doing what we love most!
Swim to inspire – our pet project
Swim to inspire is a volunteer project initiated by Monica dedicating her races at a young age to members of the family. This project is growing and we have great fun helping Monica’s friends to improve their swimming by inspiring them not to give up when the going gets tough.
We helped a swimmer correct her strokes when she did not have a club and a coach. It gives us great pleasure and pride to see how she is growing into a swimmer that is also doing well and excels in the sport. The biggest and most important part is that our friends enjoy what they do and just love the sport as much as we do – a shared passion.
We also use the project to nurture Monica by keeping her humble and caring. It is good for kids to share their passions and grow into caring sharing givers rather than receivers. The world needs more kids like this. Learn more about Swim to inspire