Westville Sprints and KZN Premier Champs ’17
Mom lands a contract at the City of Cape Town as a digital writer. Monica and dad stay behind in KwaZulu Natal to continue with school and training. The contract is not permanent work and moving to Cape Town is not viable at this point in time.
Mica recovers well from the Swine flu strain as the anti-viral does its job. Training resumes in preparation for Westville Sprints and KZN Premier Champs. KZN Premier Champs is the KwaZulu Natal regional Level 3, SANJ and SA youth Championship. In 2017 the Championship doubles up as the 2018 Commonwealth trials, which are set to take place in April 2018, Gold Coast Australia. Famous swimmers are competing at this event.
It is the first time Mica will swim this Championship. The rule states that any swimmer with Level 3 qualifying times has to participate in the KZN Premier Championship irrespective of age. Monica swam Level 3 freestyle qualifying times at the age of nine. The events at this meet are 11 & Under.
Why do we hold Monica back?
Competing against the 11-year-old swimmers at the age of nine is not the right thing to do and we decided to sit the first year (that she swam L3 times) out. It allows time for Monica to mature as a person to handle the level of competition as racing at this level is tough.
Out-of-province visitors may apply to swim at this Championships. If they win, they receive visitors medals. Swimmers from all over South Africa convene in Durban to compete for better database times or qualifying times to level up. This makes racing at KZN Premier Championship challenging and requires more maturity than what a nine-year-old has.
Westville Sprints 2017:
With the above in mind, we continue training for Westville Sprints in November. Mica is the top female point scorer since 2014 when she was seven-years-old. (I.e. top female point scorer 8, 9 and this year 10 & Under).
Top point scorers win a TYR voucher. We put forward the difference and Monica choose a pair of goggles or anything that she may need for her kit every year. Working for this voucher is a great motivator. Monica really wants to give her best in swimming this meet every year.
Westville Sprints is also a good indicator when we look at the bigger picture. We use this Championship to see what and where we need to refine techniques for 2017’s KZN Premier champs.
The indoor long course pool is still closed for repairs. We swim Westville Sprints in the short course pool.
Monica starts Westville Sprints on the first evening with a personal best in the 100m Freestyle of 1:08:08. It is a seasonal best for her. We are ecstatic and so happy that the whole year’s work pays off despite her six-weekly flu battle.
KZN Premier Champs and Commonwealth Trials 2017:
Mom is now a month in Cape Town and not able to take leave to attend this event. It is the first major event that Dad and Mica will do without mom present. (It is also the hardest thing mom ever had to do by not being there for Mica at her first KZN Premier Champs).
Mica will swim from 16-19 December 2017. She and Dad will then travel to the Western Cape to visit Granny and Mom for the December holidays. Monica does not taper for this Championship. Her program looks as follow:
- First day: 50m Breaststroke and 10m butterfly
- Second day: 100m breaststroke, 100m backstroke, 50m and 200m Freestyle
- Third day: 200m breaststroke, 50m butterfly, 200m IM
- Fourth day: 200m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 100 free
- Fifth day: 50m backstroke which we do not enter
A total of 12 events over 4 days. Monica qualifies for the finals in all events, and she ends up swimming 26 events over the 4 day period, including 2 relays
The meet ends unexpectedly well for Monica. She takes home 1 Gold 200 IM, 4 Silver medals, 2 bronze for the relay and 200 breaststrokes. She also swims a total of seven long course personal bests. A swimmer from Gauteng took first place in the 200 IM but receive a visitors medal. Monica touched second but is the first KZN swimmer and she retains her track record as KZN’s 11 & Under top 200 IM swimmer, with a gold medal for this effort.
Lessons learned at KZN Premier Champs
Monica learned to swim without her Mama Coach that takes care of her motivation and act as emotional support. This is not easy. Mica had to be tough and deal with a torn tech suit when she least expect it. We have no backup but are very fortunate to have excellent friends that came to the rescue with an Arena suit which fortunately did fit Monica. Forever grateful for that.
However, we do know that the suit makes no difference. Peer pressure demands that swimmers at this level compete in tech suits and it brings to question what if one cannot afford a tech suit? For that reason we accepted the kind offer to use a backup tech suit but if push came to shove Monica would’ve swum her finals in an old-school suit.
I asked her later on if it will bother her if she is the only one on the blocks in an old-school suit. She said it might be a bit awkward as their names are read out in finals but it will not really bother her. She is there to swim, not be on a fashion parade.
On 20 December dad and Mica drive across the width of South Africa to Dwarskerbos on the West coast. It is a long, two-day drive but Monica is lucky to be able to do that with her dad at the age of ten. The country is in the middle of a severe drought which is clearly visible during this drive and it really unsettles Monica. Being used to the tropics where we live and then witness a severe drought such as the current disaster in the Western Cape, is quite an education.
We take long walks on the beach, sleep late, eat whatever we want and just have a magical Christmas at the end of a tough year. It is time to reflect and prepare for the last four months of the season.