Abie is number
in the water
A lecturer in biokinetics at the School of Human Movement Sciences has been crowned South African champion in open water swimming. Abie van Oort’s win during the South African National Open Water Swimming Championships in Jeffreys Bay earlier this year is even more remarkable because it was his first podium position in open water swimming.
They’re in the swim of things too
Some of the NWU’s students also participated in this year’s South African National Open Water Swimming Championships in their age groups.
Nadia Blaauw was crowned champion in the 3 km to 5 km category. Other NWU swimmers who competed include Licinda Kleynhans (3 km) Danielle Luyt (3 km), Francois Snyman (3 km) and Reino von Wielligh (5 km to 10 km)
Abie was victorious in the 3 km category for swimmers in the 30 to 40 age group. “I really didn’t think that I would take the gold medal home. I knew that many of the swimmers were experienced – my greatest competition was from the strong swimmers who had won podium positions before.”
Competing with the best might be daunting to less-experienced open water swimmers, but it did not stop Abie giving his all in the championships and reaching the top position.
He says although it was relatively easy to qualify for the championships, it was much harder to swim his way to a win. Abie had to qualify for the championships by achieving at least one 3 km qualifying time at a Swimming South Africa-approved open water swimming event held after 1 May 2017.
It runs in the family
Although he is new to open water swimming, Abie is no stranger to swimming. An avid swimmer, he has 18 years’ experience participating in swimming galas and has also competed at national swimming events.
He says he is fortunate that his sister, Marike van Oort, is his coach. She understands his swimming style and helped him to prepare for the championships. Marike is head swimming coach at the NWU and was recently appointed official coach of the North West provincial team.
The perks of getting wet
Abie joined the NWU swimming team eight years ago. “Swimming has done a lot for me. It taught me commitment, determination and self-discipline.” Now busy completing his PhD, he says he tries to employ these values every day in his work and life.
Swimming is more than just hard work and many hours in the swimming pool to him. It is also fun and he enjoys every moment of it.
*Open water swimming differs from gala events that usually take place in swimming pools and indoors. The sport takes place outdoors in oceans, lakes, rivers and dams over longer distances.