NAMIBIA will likely be well-represented at the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games as the country’s para swimmers are diligently preparing to qualify for the competition, according to the Namibia National Paralympic Committee’s Treasurer, Jean-Paul Schmidt.
Schmidt said this at the Bank Windhoek Long Course National Swimming Championships in which four para swimmers recently participated and broke some of their personal best records. These swimmers are Mateus Angula (29), Caitlin Botha (26), Jerome Rooi (18) and Namasiku van der Linden (15).
According to Bank Windhoek, Angula, who was born without legs, broke his personal best record for the 100-meter(m) freestyle and the 50m backstroke event by a second and 2,48 seconds respectively. His new personal best for the 100m freestyle event is 1:47.04 seconds, while his personal best for the 50m backstroke event is 00:55:69 seconds.
Bank Windhoek revealed that Botha, who has Cerebral Palsy (CP), broke her personal best record by 1,01 seconds in the 100m breaststroke event. Her new personal best for this event is now 4:00:20 seconds. She achieved this, Bank Windhoek added, despite the fact that the cold water caused muscle spasms, which makes swimming difficult for a person with CP.
Rooi, who lost his leg in 2017, improved his personal best record for the 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke event by 16:72 and 10:35 seconds respectively. Bank Windhoek revealed that his new personal best for the freestyle and backstroke events is 37:39 and 56:61 seconds respectively.
Van der Linden, who was born with Down Syndrome, broke her personal records in six of the nine events that she participated in. Her best performance, Bank Windhoek said, was in the 200m Individual Medley event, where she broke her personal record by 20,59 seconds by achieving a personal best record of 4:34:46 seconds.
According to Bank Windhoek, the national swimming championships, which was hosted by the Namibia Swimming Federation (NASFED), served as preparation for international competitions such as the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games, which will take place in France from August to September 2024.
However, Bank Windhoek added, the participation in the Paris Games would require the classification of the newcomers, Rooi and van der Linden, and the reclassification of Botha. Classification is also necessary to ensure the swimmers’ participation in regional and other international swimming events. However, classifications are only done outside Africa and require substantial financial resources.
Still, these swimmers are focused on qualifying for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games, with Botha, Rooi and Van der Linden’s coach, Adriaan Maritz, confirming that the swimmers are training five times a week.
“Swimming improves our fitness level and takes us to places worldwide,” Angula added.