I love swimming the 200 Freestyle. At the start of the race, the swimmer next to me challenged me. I had to swim a faster first 100-meters than planned. Length 5 and 6 I felt really good and as my mom always says, when you feel good, GO! I pulled out all the stops in the last two lengths with a sprint for a strong finish. It was actually fun!

16-20 December 2018, KZN Aquatics Speedo Provincial Championships, Kings Park Swimming pool, Durban.
11-year-old Monica Botha from North Coast Dolphins Swim Team (NCDST) breaks the KZN 200-short-course-meters (SCM) Provincial record in a time of 2:15:57.

The previous KZN 200-meters SCM record was set by Rene D Warnes in 2003 at the Beavers Winter Champs (2:18:73).

KZN Premier Championships is an annual event where level 3, SA National Junior qualifiers and senior swimmers compete. This year, the 50-meters indoor pool closed in November for roof repairs. As a result, KZN Aquatics used the 25-meter outdoor pool to host the event.

KZN Premier Championships day-by-day breakdown:

Day 1: Monica shines on 16 December in the 11&U female events. She bags 3 gold medals in the 200-meter backstroke(2:38:41), 50-meter Butterfly (33:54) and 400-meter freestyle (4:59:82). The 200 backstroke is also an SA National Junior qualifying time (SANJ QT). Monica has been working on this goal for a while.

Day 2 Monica earns silver medals in the 200-m Individual Medley (2:42:23) and 50-meter breaststroke (38:40). She keeps the best for last and secures her first place in the 50-meter freestyle with a PB of 29:26.

Day 3 is challenging with a storm brewing and swimmers battle heat exhaustion and dehydration facing increased heat and humidity. Monica places third in the 100-m butterfly and 200-meter breaststroke with 2 personal bests. 1:17:27 in the 100 Fly and 3:04:44 in the 200m breaststroke.

The storm breaks soon after the 200 breaststroke finals and KZN Aquatics calls it a day due to lighting. KZNA move the remaining senior finals to Day 4.

Day 4: With welcome relief after the storm, the 11&Under swimmers have 4 events left. 200-meter Freestyle and 50 Backstroke on Day 4 concluding the Gala on Day 5 with 100m backstroke and 100 freestyle.

Monica already qualified for SA National Junior Championship 2019 in the remaining 4 events.  There is, as a result, no pressure on Mica to perform.

We see a trend with the 200-meters freestyle,” says Monica’s Coach Jan Botha. “In June 2018, surprised us with her first short course SANJ qualifying time of 2:21:08 at a UGU gala. In September, at KZN Junior Champs Monica swims a long course meet record in 2:22:86. The previous record stood at 2:32:47.

Our training and goal setting does not include aiming for a meet or other records. Monica’s goals are mainly her own times that she aims to swim. She loves training at race pace pushing herself during training all the time. I guess this is why she just felt good in the second half of the race and went for it. We are very proud of these kinds of decisions at her age.

Day 5: Monica concludes Day 5 with another superb performance. She clocks 1:13:42 in the 100-meter backstroke improving on her initial SANJ QT of 1:14:34. Keeping the best for last, Monica awes the crowd with a 100m freestyle time of 1:03:77.

The good news does not end here. Botha bags a total of 7 Gold, 4 Silver and 2 bronze medals over 5 days. The peaks at Premier champs swimming 10 personal bests in 13 events. Last but not least, with 252 out of 260 possible points, she wins the Women 11&U top point scorer category. Monica also won gold in the 50, 100, 200 and 400-meter Freestyle events.

KZN Aquatics will present the top point scorers with their rewards at a special awards evening in 2019.
What happens after Premier Championship 2018?

We take a break until 7 January 2019 when we start training again. I will use the next 3 months to prepare for my first SA National Junior Championships from 20-24 March. The meet is 2 weeks after my 12th birthday and I will compete 12&Under. It is a huge challenge as competition will be tough. I will do my best. says Monica.

More about Monica Botha:
Mica is a brand ambassador for Aqua Lifestyle Centre where she trains with the Aqua Swim Academy Squad. She an active “Everyday Hero” growing gold for Childhood Cancer Awareness. Outside the pool, Monica loves homeschooling and is academically strong. Her career dream is to become a Veterinarian. She loves playing the piano and spending time with her pets.
Mica pays medals forward to fellow swimmers as part of Swim to Inspire.

If a medal hangs on my wall it is just a reminder of past races. When I pay a medal forward, it serves a better purpose. Hopefully, it motivates fellow swimmers to work harder and smarter to realize their own goals, says Monica.


Photo Caption: Coach Jan Botha from Aqua Lifestyle Centre (left) Monica Botha (middle) and Head Coach Dominique Donner from North Coast Dolphins Swim Team.


With editing by gsport