Today meet Carmen Botha, a true champion in and out of the water. I must say that connecting with this special athlete has given me fresh hope and new excitement for our girls in swimming. She is a deeply grateful and passionate young athlete with her eye firmly set on the prize. Tokyo 2020 will be a year to behold!
She comes from a long and rich lineage of swimming from baby days with mommy coach always around to guide and inspire. Carmen, despite that ever bubbling smile has a deep seated determination of steel. This gives hope for the next generation of world changers in girl swimming.
Carmen is ever grateful and gives the glory to God for her talents. She speaks with much respect about her brilliant Coach – Rocco Meiring, for his constant advice and leadership on her swim journey.
About community she says “I also believe in justice for all and I feel that every person on this earth must be treated equally, no matter your status. I feel very sorry for poor people and try to help them wherever I can, within my ability. I would like to see myself as a person that can make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I want to contribute to this world by caring and adding value to other people’s lives. Since my young days I felt passionate about helping others. Maybe that is why I want to become a lawyer one day? Not to defend criminals, but to help others whose rights are trampled upon. Nelson Mandela is a true example of how one individual can make a difference to others”.
Athlete: Bio / Stats
|Name & Surname||Carmen Botha|
|Nick Name||“The Beast” (given to her by a previous swimming coach, because she trains so hard)|
|Date of birth||29-06-1999|
|Place of birth||Nelspruit|
|Coach’s Name||Rocco Meiring|
|Out of Country events/ meets||June 2016 – Mare Nostrum (Monaco)|
|Favorite Song/ type of music||“Running” by Milky Chance|
|Favorite Movie||Palo Alto|
|School & Grade||Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool Pretoria (AHMP) / Grade 11|
|Sponsors||Was Speedo previously|
Carmen Botha (Facebook),
|Parents Names, siblings||Arrie Botha (Father), Lizette Botha (Mother), Mikal Botha (Older sister)|
Q: You are passionate and doing brilliantly in your Swimming tell me a little bit about how you started in Swimming and your journey in the Swimming arena up to now?
My mom is a swimming teacher. She owns a swimming school (Kiddies Aqua Swimming Academy) for the past 28 years. My mom taught me to swim. I started swimming at the age of four months (Self-Rescue Water Safety Method also known as Baby Floating). I could swim before I could walk. Since then I have been swimming literally every day of my life. My mom has taught more than 7 000 babies to float and 16 000 children to swim, so swimming is part of our family’s DNA since long now. She recently also taught the little Prince and Princess of Monaco to swim. She taught me all the basic strokes since I was 3-years old. I started swimming competitively at the age of 5 years and was already on a swimming program of Dean Price (Swim SA’s High Performance Manager) at the age of 5 years doing between 3 and 5km of swimming per day. I have obtained provincial colors in swimming since the age of 7 years when I started taking part at the SA Schools Championships. As a 7-year old, I swam in the category for Girls 9 Years Old. Since then I have made every provincial swimming team, first in Mpumalanga and then at Northern Tigers (NTS) and Gauteng. I broke several age-group records at school competitions and currently hold four NTS-provincial Age Group Records. I have won every Victrix Ludorum trophy at school since Grade 3, except for one year, until now in Grade 11. I have also won several other provincial- and school trophies for “Best Swimmer” and “Swimmer of the Year” during the past nine years. I have also been included in the SA Junior Training Squads since age 12 years. All these trophies, medals and accolades are not important. I just love swimming and cannot go without it for one day. A year ago I went through a bad patch. I was in the middle of puberty and my body was playing all sorts of tricks on me. I nearly quitted swimming. My coach told me to take a week off and go and think about my swimming future. Two days later, I was back in the pool, knowing that I cannot go without swimming. I started to pay more attention to my diet and lost 11 kilograms in four months. That and my new motivation allowed me to become competitive again. During the past National Level 3 Championships that took place a week ago in PE, I won 2x gold-, 2x silver- and 1x bronze medals in my age group (Girls 16 Years Old). I have also obtained 4x Senior National Times. I give the entire honor to the Lord and my committed swimming coach (Rocco Meiring). They gave me a second swimming-life.
Q: Who are you? Describe yourself as a person.
I am a highly goal-driven individual who is always striving to improve on my best achievements, does not matter if it is swimming, academics, or whatever. I set very high standards for myself, sometimes to the frustration of my parents and swimming coach. I don’t compromise on my preparation. I believe in the 5 P’s, namely PROPER PREPARATION PREVENT POOR PERFORMANCE. I don’t feel comfortable when I have not prepared well. Fortunately, my swimming coach is following the same philosophy. Rather over-prepare. A thing is either black or white to me, no grey areas.
Q: What is the highest accolade that you have achieved in Swimming and what is your greatest personal accomplishment?
I think it must be the inclusion in the SA Swimming Junior Squads since age 12 years old. At the age of 12 I was No1 in SA in 13 events (Short Course and Long Course combined) for my age group. I have always been in the Top 5 in SA in most of my events, sometimes No 1 in some of them. I have also won several trophies and broke several records over the years. My greatest achievement must be to make a comeback in swimming last year. My recent results are proof of that. It is very satisfactory and it motivates me to lift the bar even higher. It also taught me to never give up on your dream, no matter how tough the road to that dream is. It is not an easy road to become a champion otherwise everyone would have been a champion.
Q: What was your last major champs / meet, and how did you experience it? Lesson learned?
My last major championship was the recent SA Level 3 National Championships held in PE (18-22 March 2016). It was one of my best galas ever, considering that I only won a couple of bronze medals last year this time. This year I have accomplished much more with the 2x gold, 2x silver and 1x bronze medal. I have also improved on all my Personal Best Times with leaps and bounds. Some of the times I could not believe I was capable of. It gives me great hope for the future. Lesson learned was that anything is possible when you apply your mind and body to it.
Q: In your opinion, what is the value of Education for our youth?
Education is the key to a successful future for any individual. It is one thing people cannot take away from you. Sounds like a cliché, but it is so true. Education is the gateway out of poverty for so many poor young kids. I salute all these top performers coming from disadvantage communities. They don’t have all the privileges and means that we have got, but they rise above their circumstances and perform exceptionally well. We need to improve every child’s circumstances in this country to enable them to rise out of poverty. A good education also gives them a feel of accomplishment, which leads to self-respect. If a child is not academically strong, create other opportunities for him. Place him/her in a good sports- or apprentice program where he/she can develop other skills to the fullest. These skills can then be applied to start a successful career.
Q: Would you like to share a little bit more about your faith journey and how it has affected your life / sports?
I gave my heart to the Lord at a very young age. It came very naturally and my awareness of the Lord’s presence was always with me since I can remember. Who I am today is all because of the grace of God. I don’t deserve anything more than others, but I am thankful for the talents I have been given. I am a devoted Believer and know that I cannot achieve anything without the help of the Lord. I am a sinner, but I believe in His forgiveness. I have got a very active relationship with the Lord, with a few frustrating “why’s” sometimes. I feel uncomfortable talking about my achievements, but because you were asking me to do this interview I suppose I have to give you a thorough answer.
Q: What do you do to relax?
I don’t have a lot of time to relax, taking my training regime and schoolwork into account. But when I do relax, I like to spend time with friends away from swimming. My best friends do not even really know about my swimming achievements, because it is not important for me that they must know. I am more interested in what is going on in their lives, than talking about my life. They give me a different perspective in life than just swimming. They bring some balance in my life. None of them are good in any sport, but they have got other excellent talents. The common denominator amongst us is fun and a lot of laughter. They make me relax in a different way. I also enjoy spending time with my sister (who is coincidently a much more talented swimmer than I can ever dream of). I have also met a very special person recently. He is more than just a cute swimmer. He is pretty, interesting, intelligent and full of fun. We don’t talk about swimming away from the pool. He makes me smile non-stop.
Q: What is your personal favourite motivational quote?
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion.” – Muhammad Ali
Q: What is your favourite Bible / Scripture quote?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Q: What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?
My biggest challenge is to stay competitive in the water. There are no compromises when competing at the highest level. If you want to be a Champion you need to sacrifice many things and need to do the right things right. Another challenge is that I don’t give myself enough credit for what I achieve. I can be very tough on myself in terms of my performances. I always want to perform better and better, but don’t realize that it is not always possible. My coach also tells me that I am too tough on myself and that it tends to interfere with my personal growth as an athlete. I place too much pressure on myself.
Q: In your opinion, how do you define success in life?
Success can be achieved by anyone. Reaching a personal goal, no matter how big or small, can be defined as being successful. Success is not determined by the size of your house, car or bank balance, it is more of making full use of your God-given talents, how big or small. I think God expects that from us. The harder you work the more successful you become. The one is a result of the other one. A sound relationship with God means more to me than being popular or famous amongst people – that is the ultimate success to me.
Q: What’s your WHY ?
My WHY is that I want to be successful in everything I approach. I want to do everything to the best of my ability and that is why I don’t focus on too many things at the same time. Currently it is only swimming and schoolwork (and a special friend). I am a great believer in setting an example for younger kids. I want to be an inspiration for younger kids, especially the weak and the poor. I don’t think I will be materially very rich one day, because I will give everything that I have got away to the needy and the poor. I always think: “Why am I so privileged and some people don’t have what I have?” For me it feels unfair. I had this conscious since a very young age. I appreciate what I have got, but it gives me more pleasure if I can share it with others. One of my idols is Princess Charlene of Monaco (who is coincidentally also a personal friend of ours). She has got such a giving heart and -spirit. She wants to make the world a better place for the less-privileged and the weak. She does not care about fame at all. I want to be like that. Also like Gary Player said the other day – “People must not remember him for his great achievements as a golfer, but rather for how he influenced other people’s lives positively.”
Q: What is your message of encouragement to South African and youth of the world?
You have only got one life. Live it to the fullest. Learn from your- and other people’s mistakes. Educate and/or skill yourself well. Live and love your dreams without limitations. Stay humble and add value to other people’s lives. We are all God’s favorites and He has got a special plan for each one of us.
Q: At this point and time – what are you most grateful for in your life?
I am grateful that God has given me certain talents. I am grateful that we as a family are blessed with many things, most importantly happiness. Any person can be happy, and I have chosen to be happy. I am grateful for the true friends I have and the positive influence they have on my life. They are my friends for who I am and not for what I have achieved. I am most grateful that Jesus has died for me on the cross and that He lives in my heart. I am grateful that my coach has given me a “second life” in swimming and that he believed in me when I did not believe in myself anymore. He made me think of what I want to achieve. He facilitated the thought-process and allowed me to decide for myself what I want to do.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to talk to you. I feel humbled by it and would like to wish you all the best with the excellent work you do. Thank you for the straight- and honest questions and for making a difference in other people’s lives.
REPORT BACK: SENIOR NATIONALS / OLYMPIC TRIALS 2016
Sy swem 6x items, behaal 5x semi-finale (Top 20) en 4x finale (Top 10). Daar is gemiddeld 90x swemmers wat deelneem in elke item.
|Item geswem||Plek behaal|
Thank you so much for taking this interview. Thanks for your kind words towards us. 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!
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