Making a splash in Rome

2009-07-24 09:24
Sport24 columnist Roland Schoeman (File)
Roland Schoeman

It feels like just yesterday that I was at the World Championship trials in Durban trying to qualify for Rome. Here I am now only a few days away from the World Championships and I can’t be more excited or relaxed.

I’m fortunate that I go into my fifth world championships a different athlete than in my previous four. In world swimming I’m considered one of the more experienced swimmers and I honestly believe that counts in my favour. I enter World Champs with a completely different perspective than the majority of my competitors; I know what to expect and I go in knowing that I am as good as any other swimmer out there.

In October of last year, as some of you may know, I decided to move back to South Africa and base myself primarily out of Pretoria. It’s been a decision I’ve been very happy with and I believe my preparations have been as close to ideal in terms of my training. We still continue to struggle with financial assistance and support, but we make do. It’s something we’ve always had to do.

In June a small South African team had the opportunity to come over to Europe to participate in the Mare Nostrum Series (a three-leg series swum every year in Monaco, Canet and Barcelona). The series started a little slow for me as I’d been struggling with a chest infection, but it fortunately ended on a high note with race times comparable to those that I’d swum at the trials. Hugely motivating for a sprinter's psyche.
In Europe I had to make a decision whether or not to return to South Africa and brave the winter weather for my final preparations. I decided that it would be in my best interests to base myself in Europe (Marseille in France) with one of the best sprint coaches in the world. The Marseille team has performed incredibly over the last few years (three of the Marseille team made up the French silver medal-winning relay team from Beijing in 2008).

This provided the ideal location for my final preparations as I got to learn from one of the best and had the opportunity of racing against some of the world's best sprinters in training; something I’ve been seriously missing since basing myself in South Africa.
I met up with the rest of the South African team on July 17 and since then we’ve been based in Nova Gorica in Slovenia for a team training camp. The vibe among the team has been a good one. Everyone in general seems positive and upbeat which is quite a contrast from the last couple of years. Amazing what the omission of a couple of individuals does. It’s true what they say about bad apples.
I’ll be trying to upload some photos from Marseille, the training camp in Slovenia as well as from Rome. Keep watching your TV sets and please carry on supporting all the athletes at the World Champs. We are here to represent our country to the best of our abilities.

Roland is a multiple Olympic medal winner... and an avid Blue Bulls supporter.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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