Swimming South Africa or SSA rankings 2016

SSA rankings 2016 for age-group swimmers

SSA rankings 2015-2016

SSA Rankings for the 2015-2016 season: Swimmer: Monica Botha

Swimming South Africa rankings are divided into the short course (25-meter pool) and long course (50-meter pool) results, Men and Women categories.  Age group swimming ranges from 10 & Under, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and Open categories.   There is nothing more exciting than working hard for the whole year and then wait in anticipation for the Swimming South Africa rankings to be updated.

How do the SSA rankings work?

Kings Park indoor swimming poolIn South Africa, all age group swimmers registers with a club and Swimming South Africa through their local representative offices. A clear distinction is made between competitive club swimming and school swimming.

In our province, Kwa-Zulu Natal, we register with KZN Aquatics who administer, manage and promote all aquatic sports as the official swimming governing body.  KZN Aquatics is affiliated to Swimming South Africa and provides swim coaching courses and keeps the database updated with the latest swimming results.  Age group galas, KZN junior champs, provincial and regional championships are the official swimming events organized and run by KZN Aquatics.

Each region has its own governing body which is affiliated to Swimming South Africa.  Regional championships takes place in each region during March of that year. These results indicate the swimmers’ ranking in the particular age group in the country.  These results are released every year at the start of the new season (May).

What do the SSA rankings mean to swimmers and coaches?

SSA rankings simply indicate where a swimmer rank in their age group in the country.  It serves as a tool to measure performance and most likely indicates a swimmers’ strengths and weaknesses in swimming.  It most likely would serve as a motivation for older swimmers as they can see how they progress to reach the top 4 or top 10 rankings in the country.

When swimmers reach the open age group or swim qualifying times to compete at the South African National swimming championships, their rankings will indicate where they place in the country.  National swimmers compete at Senior Nationals.

Freestyle swimming

Young swimmer Monica Botha

Our swimmer is still very young. Monica swims in the Women 10 & Under age group.  The 2015-2016 season was, however, her second, so we do have the 2014-2015 results to compare her growth as a swimmer.

In the SSA rankings summary at the top, you will notice a slight difference in events and ranking / times.  During the 2014-2015 season, work was done on the indoor pool at Kings Park Stadium.  All swimming events were held at the short course pool (25-meter) outside the stadium.  We, therefore, have a nice baseline of short course swimming times in most events as per results showed (2014/2015 season).

During the 2015-2016 season, however,  the flood lights at the outdoor pools were under repair.  Most events took place in the long course (50-meter) pool inside the stadium.  In our second season, Monica established a baseline in the long course (50-meter) pool.

What do the results mean to a young swimmer?

Butterfly swimming

Our aim this year is to work on the butterfly and breaststroke technique and speed.

Looking at the results and times you would notice quite an improvement, except for the 100-meter butterfly event.  These results are typical for a young swimmer.  There are events and distances which she excels in and some strokes and events which we constantly have to work on in order to improve times.

Her overall ranking and times are however pretty good for such a young swimmer, taking the amount of experience into account.  As parents and her coaches, we are very pleased and proud of her rankings.

There are other 9-year-old swimmers that perform better than Monica and it is a bonus for us to see the times the other swimmers swim in her age group.  To us, it is an indication of the competitive level of swimming in the country and competition is always a good thing.  One should always set your aim to improve what you do and that comes with time and growth as well as aging as a swimmer.

It is also important for swimmers not to specialize in a particular stroke or distance at a young age.  For that reason, SSA set qualifying times for the Individual medley and made it a requirement to swim any provincial or regional championships.

Interpreting the results:

It is clear when we look at Monica’s SSA rankings, that she excelled in Freestyle and backstroke during the 2015-2016 season as she placed in the top 20 in her age group on a National basis.regional swimming champs 2016

Monica also swam 3 Freestyle level 2 qualifying times and one backstroke (200-meter) qualifying time during the 2015/2016 season.

Based on the KZN Aquatics rules, she has to swim the KZN Premier championships in December and would not be allowed to compete at another Level 1 regional championships (February), despite the fact that she still needs a Level 1 qualifying time in the 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter butterfly. The rule states that swimmers with two Level 2 qualifying times have to compete in the December Premier champs irrespective of age.

Should the swimmer move on to the next level or stay at their current level in swimming?

Swimming South Africa has a clear set of guidelines as far for 10 & Under swimmers:

Swimmers 10 years and younger are encouraged to swim Level 1 even if they have qualified for a higher level.  The choice however is left to the individual and their advisors.

There are some parents and coaches that register their swimmers for level 2 once they swim two level 2 qualifying times.  In our case, Monica swam level 2 qualifying times at the age of 8.  We debated the question for quite some time.

We based our decision on Monica’s emotional growth and how she handles competition.  She loves to race and loves swimming for her team in relays.  It is great fun and she looks forward to these events very much.  We, therefore, enter Monica for another Level 1 season as it is so important that she enjoys swimming and has fun competing.

(Note Monica’s reaction at the end of the race in the background when she realized their team won)

Regarding level 3 swimming:  The SSA level 3 rule states:

Swimmers 11 years with Level 3 times are encouraged to swim at Level 2. The choice, however is left to the individual and their advisors.

In the same fashion, as discussed above we will register Monica for level 2 once she turns 10 (i.e. 2017/2018 season) and try to keep her at that level as long as possible.  We are in no rush as the minimum age for most of the FINA events and Commonwealth is 14.

We decided to use the 2016-2017 season to refine Monica as a swimmer from a technical point of view, work on her speed and technique in butterfly & breaststroke.  In the meantime, she can grow emotionally  without too much pressure from a competitive point of view.

Monica will write down her goals again this year with an action plan to achieve these goals.  This works well for us as a team.  Monica puts her goals up on the white board in her room to remind herself on a daily basis of her road ahead.  It is going to be an interesting year for us. Our target is to aim for better health. This will, hopefully, help Monica to improve her times and SSA rankings in the year to come.

KZN L1 Provincial swimming champs 2016

Sponsored by Speedo SA & hosted by KZN Aquatics

KZN L1 Provincial swimming champs 2016

KZN L1 Provincial swimming champs 2016 took place at Kings Park swimming pool 20-21 February.  Total of 9 medals, 1 silver, 8 Gold and 8 meet records.

KZN L1 Provincial swimming champs: background

February every year is earmarked as the month in which swimmers earn their keep and the time when all hard work starts paying off.  In Kwazulu Natal on the East Coast of South Africa, we have 3 events which are quite important to swimmers:

  • Speedo KZN Junior championships held in September every year.
  • Speedo KZN Provincial championships – level 2 and 3 registered swimmers have their provincial champs in December every year whereas the Level 0 and level 1 swimmers compete in February every year.
  • Swimming South Africa Level 1,2,3 Regional championships normally combined with the National championships in March of every year.  This event earmarks the end of the season and swimmers’ National rankings are published on the SSA website.

In February 2015 aged 7, Monica set 3 new meet records in the Girls 8 & Under age group:

  • 50 m Freestyle @ 37:84
  • 100 m  Freestyle 1:23:17
  • 100 m backstroke @ 1:40:79

Meet format:

Swimmers swim all events at the KZN L1 Provincial swimming champs as timed finals – in other words, there are no heats in the mornings and finals at night time.  The swimmers are divided into a 10 lane timed final heats based on their recorded times in the Swimming South Africa and Kwazulu Natal Aquatics database.  It is, therefore, a rule that all swimmers have to be registered with KZN Aquatics and Swimming South Africa and have recorded times in the database.

KZN L1 swimming champs meet results

Level 1 qualifying times in each age group is also a requirement.  In our case, Monica faced a bit of a problem as she has two level 2 times: the 100 and 200-meter freestyle.  As a result, she was not allowed to compete in these two events regardless of her age (eight-years-old).  We did not mind much as she worked very hard on Breaststroke and Butterfly so our focus was on these two events.

Trophies, medals and points:

The top 10 swimmers score points depending on where they place. At the end of the swim meet the top point scorers at the meet wins a trophy (one for males and one for females) with a trophy for the club with the most points.  Gold, silver and bronze medals are presented to the top 3 swimmers in each age group.

KZN L1 Provincial champs 2016 medalsWe entered Monica for all strokes and events 8 & Under (excluding the 8 & Under 100-meter freestyle and 10 & Under 200-meter freestyle which she was not allowed to swim due to level 2 qualifying times.)  There was a total of 9 events over 2 days.

The 200-meter breaststroke, backstroke, and individual medley were 10 & under events.

Results KZN L1 Provincial swimming champs 2016:

Total of 10 events over 2 days – 9 medals of which one is silver for the Women 10 & Under 200m backstroke and 8 meet records.  One 10 & Under 4th place in Women 10 & Under 200 m breaststroke.

  • Meet records Women 8 & Under:
    • 50 m Breaststroke @ 49:93 – Meet Record, Gold, personal best (2014 @ 50.19)
    • 100 m Backstroke @ 1:33:02 – Meet record and gold (2014 MR @ 1:46:35)
    • 100 m Butterfly @ 1:53:33 – Meet record & gold (2014 MR @ 2:00:77)
    • 100 m Breaststroke @ 1:47:36 – Meet record and gold, personal best (2014 MR @ 1:52:06)
    • 50 m Backstroke @ 43:23 – Meet record and gold (2011 MR @ 43:58)
    • 50 m Butterfly @ 43:30 – Gold
    • 50 m Freestyle @ 36:57 – Meet record and gold (2011 MR @ 37:96)
  • Meet records Women 10 & Under:
    • 200 m Breaststroke – 4th place meet record @ 3:46:95 – (top 4 all set new meet records) – (2014 MR @ 3:51:31)
    • 200 Backstroke – Silver meet record @ 3:16:86 – (top 3 set new MR – 2014 MR @ 3:33:35)
    • 200 m Individual medley – Gold medal and the first time Monica won a Women 10 & Under event in a time of 3:18:16
  • Trophy for the female swimmer with the most points:
    Monica placed third in this part of the awards section with a total of 113 points. Second place had 127 points and first place 128. The other swimmers were allowed to swim 12 events vs Monica’s 10 events due to her level 2 times for the 100 and 200-meter freestyle.

Women 10 & Under 200 LC meter IM

Swimming South Africa has a rule, which states that swimmers under 10 are encouraged to swim Level 1 until they reach the age of 10.  Level 2 Age group starts with 11 & Under events.We would like to keep Monica at level 1 for another year or so in order for her to grow and mature as the level of competition intensifies as the swimmers move up in the age groups.

This might, however, be the last time that Monica will be able to swim in the KZN L1 Provincial swimming champs as she already has 2 Level 2 times.  We would have to wait for the new season which starts on 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2017 to see how many level 2 times she swims before September 2016 as it will indicate whether she has to swim the KZN L2 Provincial championships in December 2016.

We are awaiting official results on the Swimmersden web site.