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Up-Close with Lehesta Kemp

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Lehesta Kemp,  SA Swimming stalwart and true champion opens her heart to us today. Words of wisdom not only for sports but for life she shares. Lehesta clearly shows again that our country’s wealth should indeed not only be solely measured in commodities and economies but also in the commitment of its citizens to help, uplift, encourage and motivate one another to go higher and do better in life. She is determined, focused mentally tough. She is also a great mentor to our youth, and one with a very open heart and hand. We wish this special athlete all the best for her future as she pursues her dreams in and out of the water. All the best on your Road to Rio, she is currently at the Stellenbosch Swimming Grand Prix.


Athlete Stats

Name and surname Lehesta Kemp
DOB 20 March 1990
POB Hartswater Northern Cape
Current city Pretoria Gauteng
Height 1.83m
Weight 64kg
Shoe size 7
Club Players Swim Club
Coach Grant Kritzinger
Recent out country events World Cup Dubai and Doha 2014

World championships Doha 2014

Dutch Short Course Nationals 2015

Favorite city Venice Italy
Favorite movie The Lion King
Degree LLB and currently busy with Bachelor of Accounting Sciences in Financial Accounting
Inst name Varsity College
Sponsors Sonkor Manufacturers



Lehesta Kemp



Community project Water safety course for the rangers and residents of Skukuza
Parents and sibling Gerrie, Estelle and Tiaan Kemp (brother)


Q: You are one of SA’s top female athletes, admired by many, passionate and doing so well in your Swimming tell me a little bit about how you started in swimming and your journey in the swimming arena up to now?

Since I can remember I loved the water from taking chances jumping in the deep end to seeing how long I can hold my breath for it was always a battle to get me out the pool. My parents then thought it might be a good idea to start swimming lessons. I started with, my then coach, Linda Mullin who taught me all the basics. My talents got noticed by Rocco Meiring and they offered me full scholarship at the H.P.C to swim under Sandor Ban. I am currently swimming for Grant Kritzinger who brings out the best of me on a daily basis. My love for the sport grows day by day.

Q: Who are you?

The 3 words that describes me best is probably adventurous, driven and self-confident. I have always been one for excitement, exploring the unknown fascinates me and besides, what better way to make memories. But when it comes down to the grind, whether in sport or work, I put in everything. I turn on my laser like focus and feed the hunger inside. I take charge, because I know one day it will all be worth it. This brings me to the last point, self-confidence, I trust myself. It’s as simple as that. And when you have that unshakeable trust in yourself, you’re already one step closer to success.

Q: What is the highest accolade you have received in swimming and what is your personal greatest accomplishment? 

The highest accolade that I have achieved was to represent my country at the  World Championships in Turkey and Doha. My greatest personal accomplishment was qualifying for World Championships, the thrill that run down your spine when you see that you have just made it, is indescribable.

Q: Not surprisingly you are also involved in your community, striving towards the upliftment of young female athletes – and mentoring the young Taneal Baptiste. This is wonderful. What would you like to see as the outcome of this journey? / your motto om mentorship?

I have so many great mentors in my life, from my parents to my big brother to amazing friends. They always have a hand reaching out when I have stumbled and fallen, or an ear to listen when I want to blow off steam or even a big fat hug when I need it most. All I ever wanted was to be that person to someone. Help them and lead them when they need it most. Taneal is such an amazing girl with great potential and I’m so happy that I can help her in becoming the best she can be.  ~Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction. John C Crosby ~


Q: Explain your career, and how do you balance it with being a professional swimmer?

I study Bachelor of Accounting Sciences in Financial Accounting and also help with the coaching at Players Swim Club. I feel that I need to put back into the sport that I love. Help youngsters find their passion. Between working, studying and training it can become quite challenging, but I find that when you love what you do, you make a plan, because at the end of the day I’m doing it for me.

Q: Would you like to share a little bit more about your faith journey and how it has affected your life / sports?

I am blessed to have been raised in a good Christian home. From a young age my parents taught me how to talk and have a relationship with the Lord. They told me that everything we do in life is in honour of His name. I now walk hand in hand with Him. I pray for guidance every day. I pray for help, and there are times when I’m not happy with the outcome, but at the end of the day I still thank Him, because I might not see it yet, but He’s got bigger plans for me.

Q: What do you do to relax?

I enjoy relaxing and spending time with my friends, or even staying in watching a movie on a cold rainy day, but the best way for me to unwind after a tough week is to go hiking up a mountain with my pooch or getting in a kayak and paddling out. Getting lost in nature and away from the rushed city life. There is nothing quite as peaceful.

Q: What is your personal favourite motivational quote?

Walk in like Goliath and fight like David!

Q: What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?

Keeping balance. While we all crave more free time we often get so caught up in our everyday life. Always postponing or even cancelling plans. You lose track of time and before you know it you and your best friend have become strangers or you only see your family once or twice a year. I really try put in the effort to not neglect them. Give them a call once in a while or surprise them with a weekend visit. Family is what keeps you sane. They are the ones who make your journey worthwhile and without them the road can become quite lonely.


Q: When an athlete hits some “hard / difficult patch in their sports career, what goes through your mind at that time? What advice can you give other young athletes in this regard?

When you get hit with a difficult patch it really knocks you down. You lose hope, especially if it’s one knock after the other. Trust me I know. But I have come to realise that it’s all lessons, it’s stepping stones. We need that temporary, but necessary detour, so we can find our strengths. My advice is to never lose hope, get up with your head held high and show them what you’re made of!

Q: How do you define success in life / how do you define a successful person?

Success is peace of mind, in which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.

Q: What’s your WHY ?

Passion is what drives me and empowers me to be the best I can be. It makes me wake up excited every morning. I want to encourage the youth and help them find their passion or their “why”. I want to lead by example. I want to inspire them to push themselves to higher levels so that they leave a lasting impact.

Q: What is your message of encouragement to South African and African youth and our nation?

You have to fight some hard battles to earn the best days of your life. So keep your head up and always believe in yourself.

Q: Plans for 2016?  and upcoming major meets before Rio?

We going full steam ahead for Rio.

Preparation meets:

Grand prix in Cape Town

Dual meet Johannesburg

SA Trials Durban




Thank you so much for taking this interview. We would like to wish you all the best for your journey ahead. We look forward to following you as you go from strength to strength. Blessings!

NB – All images were supplied by the athlete to Heslop Sports. If there are any images that are not credited correctly, please email info@heslopsports.co.za with the details and we will gladly do so immediately.

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