Botha bags bronze in gala

Young 11-year old Monica Botha means business in the pool. On Saturday, 23 June Botha swam her first SA National Junior (SANJ) qualifying time at the Umgungundlovu age group two gala held at the JC Joliffe 25-metre pool in Pietermaritzburg.

She aced the 200-meters freestyle with a split second under the 2.21.09 qualifying time in 2.21.08, earning her a first SANJ time. This is just the beginning of her early season achievements. From 10 to 14 July, 583 swimmers from all South African provinces met at Kings Park swimming pool for the annual Prestige Championships hosted by Seals Swimming Club.

This gala is popular as it is the first major swimming gala every year, and swimmers who train at altitude benefit from competition at sea level, leading to a high contingent attending this event.

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Monica entered the following events despite her age:

• 12 and under, 200 LCM freestyle;

• 11 to 12-year old – 50 and 100 metre freestyle, butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and 200 individual medley;

• 14 and under – 200 LCM backstroke and breaststroke;

• Women open – 400 LCM freestyle.

She swam a total of 22 heats and finals over five days, producing 16 personal best times across the four swimming strokes, including the 200 metre individual medley and the long distance 400m freestyle.

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Being one of the youngest swimmers on the blocks in the 11 to 12-year-old finals does not deter this swimmer. Botha’s brave efforts secured bronze medals in the 50 and 100-metre long course freestyle events. She broke through the 31-second barrier in the 50-metre freestyle in a time of 30,40 seconds. In the 100-metre freestyle, she touched on an SA national junior (SANJ) qualifying time of 1.06.64. The SANJ qualifying time for the 100-metre freestyle event is 1.06.49.

“We did not expect the breakthrough in the 50 and 100-metre freestyle. We anticipated a potential SANJ qualifying time in the 200-metre freestyle due to the SANJ time in June. We are proud of her personal best times so early in the new season. It sets a great baseline for the 2018/19 swimming season,” said her coach Jan Botha.

Monica is homeschooled and trains five days a week for an hour and a half at the Aqua Lifestyle Centre swimming pool, where her father is the squad coach. She continues to swim and represent North Coast Dolphins Swimming team in Ballito under head coach Dominique Donner.Follow Monica’s progress at


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