It’s all about taking it one stroke at a time

SHIFAAN RYKLIEF

When Tatler caught up with the young and ambitious swimmer, she had just jumped out of the water – at the Sea Point swimming pool – after completing her 100m freestyle at a WP junior gala.

On the day, swimmers from various clubs had the opportunity to improve their times.

WP Aquatics also used the gala to showcase the various disciplines in aquatics with water-polo, diving and synchronised swimming displays.

A Grade 8 pupil at Claremont High School, Nabeelah used the opportunity to improve her 100m freestyle and 400m backstroke times.

“One of my swimming highlights was competing at a regional level last year, where I won bronze medals for butterfly and freestyle, and a double gold in relay,” said Nabeelah.

“I enjoy the tough competition because it pushes me to do better. And, this year I’m hoping to go even further and make the WP team.

“I’m also part of the school’s swimming team and have one training session with them on a Thursday. Then, I also train four times a week with my club.

Not only is she a superb swimmer, but she also has the perfect strokes when it comes to working through her various subjects at school.

“Last year I received awards for being the top student in my grade. I was never the top student before, so that was a big achievement for me as well,” she said.

Nabeelah started swimming at the age of six with Hanover Park Aquatics, but, three years later the club closed.

And, when the club re-opened in 2012 under the new leadership of Vinchenzo Cook and Andre Mentor, Nabeelah made her way back into the Hanover Park swimming pool and soon started to compete.

“We have 10 swimmers in our competitive team and I’m the only girl in the team. This motivates me to always push harder and I have to be an example to the younger swimmers who would like to compete as well.

“I started playing squash but when I got back into swimming the two sports clashed and I had to drop one – I chose to swim,” she said.

Nabeelah only started high school this year, but already has goals of pursuing a career in medical sport once she matriculates.

Hanover Park Aquatics vice chairman, Mentor, praised the dedication of the young swimmer and said she has the ability to swim at the highest level if she continues to keep up her work rate.

“Nabeelah works hard and is very competitive. She’s always setting new goals for herself and is one of our top swimmers at the club.

“Besides coming to train regularly, she always helps out with assisting at galas and stepping in to help coach the toddlers,” said Mentor.

In 2013 the club joined WP Aquatics and the following year became part of the WP Aquatics programme which is aimed at developing swimming in various communities. Last year, the club started an inter-primary school gala for the schools in the area, and hopes to increase the number of schools for this year.

“We have about 60 children at the club ranging from four years old up to 14, with 10 competing in the WP Junior League; and we have swimming for adults.

“In 2014 we had two swimmers win medals at the WP Junior League Champs, and had three swimmers earn their WP colors,” said Mentor.

“We had eight of the primary schools compete in the gala and it was the first school gala in the area.

“Our instructors went around to each of the schools to teach the kids how to swim and the various swimming strokes. Newfields Primary School won, with Parkview Junior School in second followed by Belmore Primary,” he said.