Individual Medley (IM) : the day the 8-year-old placed first
Why is the individual medley so important?
In October 2015, Swimming South Africa released updated swimming competition rules. There is one important rule change which had everybody scrambling around, trying to swim qualifying times. The rule states:
Participation at the 2016 Level 1, 2 and 3 Age Group competitions, will be dependent on the swimmer having participated in a minimum of one (1) for Level 1 and two (2) for Level 2 and Level 3, 200m or 400m Individual Medley events or a combination thereof. These times for the 200m and 400m Individual Medley events must be official and be captured on the SSA National Database. The nominal purpose of this rule is to encourage younger swimmers not to specialise in specific strokes at too early an age as part our Long Term Participant Development programme. It is not compulsory for the swimmer to compete in the 200m or 400m Individual Medley event at the Championships.
In summary, all swimmers have to learn to swim and swim qualifying times in the individual medley before they could compete at any level championship.
Mica and the individual medleys:
Monica has a reputation as far as individual medley swimming is concerned. We are not quite sure where her love of this event started as she still battles to swim a level 1 qualifying time in the 100 m butterfly. The first sign that she had an affinity for this event was during the 2013 TYR Westville club gala where she set a new record in the 8 & Under age group aged 7-years in a time of 3:29:50.
Swimming South Africa Level 1 championships March 2015:
In March 2015, 20 days after Monica’s 8th birthday, Monica swam the SSA Level 1 Championships. We were shocked when she made the finals in the morning heat in a time of 3:17:14.
The same evening, during finals, Monica placed 8th/10 swimmers in a time of 3:17:51 in the Women 16 & Under 200m individual medley. She really caused a stir by performing like this at her age. We did not realize last year that it was only the beginning….
February 2016 KZN Level 1 championships:
I guess we should have expected that there would be a time when Monica steps onto the podium before age 10 to receive a gold medal for the 200 IM. We do however teach Monica never to assume or expect that she would win. There is always someone better and stronger than you at any given time.
In February 2016, Monica did just that. There were 3 heats with 10-year-old swimmers in each. Dad is our cameraman during these events. Monica was swimming in the third and last heat with a seeded time of 3:16:92. Bear in mind that all swimmers were equally tired by the second day as there was some hard racing taking place at the championships. We watched the whole event unfold and knew after the backstroke turn based on her splits that she would have a good time.
True to her nature she found her rhythm and completed her win in 3:18:16. What a moment of pride and joy for this young swimmer to take on the older swimmers. Monica is slowly but surely earning respect from her fellow swimmers with her ability to stand her ground on any given day.