My life pretty much started at the age of nine, when I first discovered swimming. If I had to pinpoint when my love for it started, it would be the feeling of belonging I felt when swimming.

In 1999, at the age of nine, I won the SA Schools Gala. I knew that it was the start of something that would last a lifetime! 11 years later, it still is a major part of my life!

Disappointments were a certainty, even at a very young age. My parents always encouraged me. I made the national team in 2005 after winning silver and bronze at Senior Nationals at the age of 14. This was a huge achievement!

In 2006, I was the youngest member of the South African Commonwealth team to participate in Melbourne.  As far as I was concerned there was no pressure, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I should enjoy it!

I broke the senior SA record in the 200m individual medley, placed 6th and 7th in the 200m breaststroke. Little did I know how much pressure this would cause me in the near future! I was a wreck in the next few championships, scared of any swimmer beating me or breaking my record. That fear caused me to lose myself, to lose all the confidence I had in myself!

I missed the following national team selection. Needless to say, it was a huge disappointment. I felt embarrassed and sad. I realised how much pressure I was facing, being an SA record holder and sister of an Olympic champion.

In 2007, the year I matriculated, I decided to focus more on my academics and matriculated with four distinctions. In 2008 I travelled to Bath in the UK and swam well, things were looking up for the Olympic Trials in April. That was when the first blow hit me, I fell very ill in the last two weeks of my stay and was diagnosed with measles. I couldn’t finish the trials and as a result, did not make it to the Beijing Olympic Games.

I was crushed, but ready to fight back! In 2009 I fell ill again. After many medical tests, I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever. I was ordered to stay out of the water for 2 months! On top of it, I strained my ankle and had to wear a cast for six weeks after trying to master three ball room dance sequences for a fundraiser. It felt as if my world was tumbling down at a very fast rate!

My brother granted me the opportunity to live with him in Pretoria whilst training with his swimming squad. Things were finally looking up for me!  In 2010, I started my own swimwear range called JMN Swimwear and started my LLB Degree through the University of the Free State! In April this year, I swam at the nationals and for the first time since 2006, I was in the race again! I can’t even describe the joy after completing the 200m Breaststroke! I won silver and gold after only four months of training. Adding to my blessings, I was chosen as the face and spokesperson of the Nimue skincare range.

It is hard to believe, when looking back at my journey, that I have endured so much and received so many blessings, gained the world and lost it all again. I am still going strong with enthusiasm and passion, simply because I know the best is yet to come!

Facebook Comments


JOIN us now! 200 000+ student community get it monthly

Don't forget to stay in know. Students across the country join daily to ensure they never miss out. Drop your email in the box.

Your data and privacy is important to us. We strive to provide the utmost in transparency and always allow the opportunity to opt-out. Know your rights and visit our legal section