St. Michael’s, despite all efforts, has never been a school that excels at sports. Despite a few small victories, the sporting standard of the school never seems to match the academic standard. One sport that perfectly fits that description, is swimming – and this fact has not gone unnoticed. Now, there is hope – there is currently a renewed focus on making swimming at St Michael’s a success.
This year, nine learners and three teachers completed the Midmar Mile, eight of whom finished with times under 40 minutes. The Midmar Tour is always an enjoyable experience for the girls. The Midmar Mile, the world’s largest open-water swimming event, was first held in 1974 and only 153 swimmers participated. Three friends who could not go down to East London to swim the Buffalo Mile, decided to organise a similar event in KwaZulu-Natal.
Miss Jo-Nelke Swanepoel, SMS Sports Organiser, says that participating in swimming events such as the Midmar Mile is good for swimmers because they are exposed to a different type of swimming (open-water swimming). She hopes that, in a few years’ time, St Michael’s will have a competitive swimming team at the Inter-high gala.
Rachel Sweetlove excelled at the Interhouse gala. She was the best Open Freestyle Swimmer, won the Ladies Association Cup for the Best Open Breaststroke swimmer and the Victrix Ludorum Kennedy Cup for the Best Senior Swimmer.
Professional coaching is one possible solution to the school’s low swimming standard. In an effort to improve the quality of swimming at St. Michael’s, Dr Brenda Coetzee was appointed as the coach of team swimming at the beginning of the year.
Another problem with swimming is the lack of both interest and participation in the sport. Learners are not introduced to water sports at a young age. Instead, they are introduced to ball sports. This creates a fear of water and, by the time learners reach high school, they are no longer interested in participating in the sport.
Hopefully, considering all the extra work and money that has been invested, swimming at St. Michael’s will improve drastically over the next few years.