Young beginners take the first strokes to a lifetime of swimming

The champions of tomorrow took to the pool at White River Primary on Saturday November 12 at the Ehlanzeni District Swimming Level 0 Development Gala.

It was the first competitive event for most of the swimmers.

The embankments around the 25m swimming pool were packed with parents, friends and supporters as the brave competitors reaped the rewards of many hours of hard practice.

All events were over 25m and included pool noodle races, backstroke, breaststroke, kicker board races and free stroke.

“Mpumalanga Swimming functions within the three districts. The districts have the responsibility of developing and transforming swimming at grassroot level, which includes schools and learn to swim clubs. Mpumalanga Swimming assists the community in training coaches, registering schools and clubs, and ensuring continuous development of these implementers of swimming. Compliance when ‘working’ with minors is crucial and non-negotiable and all swimming endorsed by the Swimming Federation can be considered the only way to go for any parent/guardian/teacher concerned with proper, formalized and qualified teaching,” said Ronel Bekker of Mpumalanga Swimming.

“The level 0 gala is one of two we have. The next one will be held on February 4 in Mbombela. We hosted 281 swimmers with an 80% transformation representation.”

The aims of this event were:

  • To invite all entry level school, club and private swimmers to participate in a formalized competition.
  • To show off their capabilities learned thus far, to learn about how formal swimming competitions function, to compete against other developing swimmers.
  • To identify talent for Mpumalanga swimming coaches, to create opportunities for the community interested in swimming to learn.
  • To create awareness of the critical life skills of water safety to save lives.

“As these events are focused on entry level participants, we made use of 12 White River Primary School registered swimmers to act as ‘life guards’. We also catered for intellectually and physically impaired swimmers and these life guards played a massive role in ensuring they remain calm knowing they will be ‘okay’ when their little bodies hit the water for their races.

“We invited the top eight boys and girls from the event to compete in an exhibition 50m freestyle race at our Mpumalanga Open Swimming Championships the weekend of December 2, 3 1nd 4. This will showcase these upcoming swimmers and introduce them to a higher level competition and hopefully flame their passion for the sport.

“We have started introducing water polo as an addition to our already established disciplines being swimming and open water swimming which proves to attract swimmers who have a passion for team sports and we are excited about its future.

“Despite the lack of facilities, Mpumalanga Swimming still aims to expose many opportunities to the greater community to have access to our lovely and life-saving sport. Anyone is welcome to contact us for any questions related to swimming as we welcome any age or level of involvement,” concluded Bekker.

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