Karin Prinsloo, SA’s Top Female swimmer, one of Africa’s and South Africa’s finest daughters, dedicated Olympian and our beloved Queen of the Swimming Pool talks to Heslop Sports in an exclusive interview.
She is also the deserving recipient of the African Female Swimmer of the Year award 2013. This ordinary girl from Marble Hall, with her extra-ordinary faith, vision, dedication and talent, is not just a triumphant athlete, but one who sets a brilliant example of purposeful living, showing that “this life is a dress rehearsal for eternity” (Leonard Ravenhill). This is the type of sportsmanship that inspires a generation, our Nation, our African Continent and also the world.
This champion represents SA well on the world’s top swimming arena’s and podiums, she is a multiple South African and African record holder and medalist, coach, mentor, and unashamedly an ambassador for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in and out of the water. Karin strives to motivate young athletes wherever she travels to or finds herself.
Read on to see what stirs this inspiring young lady, and what her plans hold for the future……
How did Karin Prinsloo start out, and how did she become known as South Africa’s Queen of the Swimming Pool?
I started at the age of 6 years old, I’m the youngest of 4 sisters and swimming definitely ‘ran’ in the family. It was at the age of 10 when I first represented SA in Sydney, Australia where I realised that I had been given a huge talent.
Who inspired you when you were much younger?
Natalie Coughlin and Ryan Lochte – USA Olympic medalists.
Who inspires you now?
Over the years things changed a lot. Godly people started inspiring me. And unfortunately in the swimming world, a strong Christian is hard to find. My sisters, mom, dad, pastors and fellow brother-and-sisters-in-Christ inspires me. In the swimming world people like Suzaan van Biljon, Trudi Maree and Penny Heyns inspired me because of their faith in Him.
I know you had injuries and illness leading up to SA Nationals, but you still did very well, congratulations! What advice can you give young athletes about making a comeback after a major setback?
Mind over matter – illnesses and injuries will definitely pop up and in my case at the worst times. But it’s what you make of it. You can either let it ruin your competition or make it. I went to Nationals with little expectations because of my bad build-up. Sometimes not having all the pressure on you is ideal and you should see it as a positive when injured or ill. Sometimes you’ll end up surprising yourself.
One of the things that I admire about you is your openness about your faith in Jesus Christ. Can you tell me a little bit more about your faith journey?
From a young age my parents made sure I was raised in a very good Christian home. Always trying to be the best. But only in 2012/2013 I was given a new heart and it became a relationship not just religious do’s and don’ts. I used to swim for people, self-exaltation etc. but it was after I qualified for the London Olympics where everything changed. I prayed for it day in and day out. The Lord was faithful and blessed me with it. But it left me empty. I realized I made His gifts bigger than Him. Only when I started swimming for Him and His glory alone my swimming improved and I was content with failure and success. He knows exactly what you need, and sometimes an injury or bad times are exactly what you need in order for you to stay close to or lean on Him. He’ll bless you when you are ready and your heart is in the right place. But we often forget that having an able body is a huge enough blessing already. The rest are all just extras. Grace.
Do you think that sports can be a ministry tool by which the lost can be reached?
In 2013 disciple-making pressed hard on my heart and ever since, everywhere I tour I really try to be a light and spread the Good News where I can. I know my purpose in swimming is far more than just winning medals but by winning souls. And I pray that He will use me more and more and that I’ll be faithful and listen to Him. Can’t think of anything more amazing than Him using you to win a soul/s.
Tell me one thing about Karin Prinsloo that the world does not know.
I REALLY dislike having wet hair – haha.
Not surprisingly you are also involved in your community, striving towards the upliftment of young female athletes – and mentoring the 12 year old Duné Coetzee. This is wonderful. What would you like to see as the outcome of this journey?
Duné’s dad approached me last year, and I’ve been loving the mentorship programme. Us girls in SA definitely need some guidance when life kicks in. I hope to teach Duné things that I wish I’d known when I was her age and the struggles she’s still going to face. Hopefully it will prolong her swimming career and help her in life in general. I really learnt a lot about myself too and it’s great being able to give back. She’s a hard worker and I’m sure she’ll go far. Excited to see what the Lord has in store for her.
Explain your career, and how do you balance it with being a professional swimmer and Olympian?
I took over a Learn- to-Swim school in 2013. I absolutely love coaching little ones. With all my injuries and health issues I decided last year to team up with 2x Olympian Suzaan van Biljon. She took over my coaching job whilst I took over the admin side of the swim school. For now it’s ideal and gives me more time to concentrate on my swimming and rehab when needed.
Where to from here Karin Prinsloo?
I would love to make a final next year at the Rio Olympics. I’ll be working hard till then and hopefully I can make SA proud. I’ve also learned that we can have many plans and dreams, but the Lord knows what we need and will provide and whatever the outcome if you gave your best, win or lose, His will is always better than yours.
After my swimming I would love to build up my swim school and give clinics on stroke corrections on weekends etc.
Thank you so much Karin for this special interview and giving us a glimpse into your plans, preparation and what is on your heart!