There was great excitement yesterday afternoon at the Training Edge Gym as swimmers from the Kouga Swim Club were paid a surprize visit by Olympic swimmer Natalie du Toit.
Natalie had just finished competing in the South African Open Water Swim Champs at Marina Martinique, where she won both the 10 K marathon swim and the shorter 5 K race.
The local swimmers spend most of their training session speaking to Natalie as she chatted about her career as a top international swimmer and what it took to get there.
Wiun Moore said that Natalie has been his hero for a long time. “I can’t believe I have met Natalie and even got her autograph! I am going to train very hard now because I also want to go to the Olympic Games”, said an ecstatic Wiun.
Kaylin Wooding was just as excited and said that it was the best training session ever. “I supported Natalie and shouted for her when she swam past my house in the Marina during the 10 K swim. She told us how we can become better swimmers and I am going to try win the 500 m swims at the Marina next summer”, said Kaylin.
“Natalie really won the hearts of the young swimmers”, said Brenton Williams, the coach of the Jeffreys Bay swimmers. “She is an inspirational role model for all South Africans and is a genuine and a humble person. The swimmers really enjoyed asking her questions and we really appreciated her taking the time to come and chat with them”.
Natalie will be leaving South Africa to go compete in Israel and Europe as part of her build up to the World Championships in Shanghai, China.
“It has been amazing time in Jeffreys Bay and I am blown away by the hospitality we have been shown by the people here”, said Natalie. “Winning both my events at the SA National Champs, swimming in a great venue like Marina Martinique and meeting so many amazing people has made this a great trip.
I also swam with the crazy group of J’Bay swimmers who swim in the dark at the Marina at 6 am in the mornings. It is good to see the sport flourishing like this”.
The Jeffreys Bay community will be fully supporting Natalie in her quest to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.