Another proudly and passionately SA SWIMMER in the Fresh & Hungry Series is the 23 year old Rene Warnes, nickname “Reen”. A well balanced athlete and BA Psych & Crim graduate, excelling in academics and swimming. She has represented South Africa brilliantly at many World Championships. She is currently training towards her dream at the Seaguls Swimming Club, to make it to Rio Olympics 2016, under the leadership and training of top SA Coaches Graham Hill and Delon Danhauser.
Rene is a deep thinker and gives a glimpse into her inner being by naming her favourite quote as the poem by Maya Angelou called “Still I Rise”. The poem is a poignant declaration of determination, succeeding despite surroundings and history and the strong desire to celebrate our uniqueness and femininity. This fashionista of note has a deep passion for helping children who have experienced trauma and is busy with a post graduate qualification in this regard.
You are a seasoned and brilliant SWIMMER, tell me a little bit about how you started in swimming and your journey up to now?
I got into swimming as a young child, went for swimming lessons to be water safe and just found a love for it. I started competitive swimming at the age of 8 years old. I have been swimming for the past 15 years and have loved every minute of it, even during the extremely tough and difficult phases. As the saying goes “no one said that it would be easy, but they did say that it would be worth it”, and for me it definitely has been more than worth it. I have learnt many life lessons through this sport. It has shaped me into the person that I am today.
What is the highest accolade that you have achieved in swimming and what is your greatest personal accomplishment?
The highest accolade that I have achieved was to represent my country at high level World Championships and the Commonwealth Games. I am working towards achieving what is going to be my greatest achievement and that is qualifying for the Olympics in Rio 2016, and competing on the biggest sporting stage in the world.
Do you have any specific regimens or rituals in swimming? Maybe a particular diet / training method that can partially be attributed to your success?
You will never see me at a big meet without earphones in my ears before getting in for warm up or before a race. Music plays a big role in my life and in my race preparations. There are just certain songs that help me to get into the right head space and fire up my inner competitor.
I do follow an eating plan, but I do love my sweets and chocolates, but try keeping it to a minimum especially leading up to a big meet. I always have steak and pasta before a big meet – that would probably be as specific as it gets.
You have represented Team SA for swimming before, where did you go and how did you experience it?
I have been incredibly lucky to have travelled around the world as part of Team SA for swimming. I have been to places that I would never have visited on my own if it wasn’t for swimming e.g. Kenya, Shenzen (China) and Senegal.
How do you manage to fit in both sports and academics into your schedule?
I manage both academics and sport as best as I can. When it comes to exam time, I put my head down and I work hard despite being tired from doing a tough training set. I have been pretty successful in my academic career so far.
Beside your swimming what else do you have a passion for?
Besides swimming, I have a deep seated passion for young children and helping them. I also have a deep, deep passion for fashion. I love dressing up and expressing my inner girly-girl through fashion. I live by these mantras “Dress as though you were going to die today/meet your worst enemy”; and “Dressing well is a form of good manners”. I always want to look presentable to the outside world, even if I am in a tracksuit or in gym gear. As for children… when I decided to go into psychology and criminology, I did it so that one day I could help children who have been affected in negative ways in their lives. I am doing teaching now because that is also a pathway that allows me to help young children.
Tell me one thing about yourself that the world does not know?
I am a pretty open book so nothing right now springs to mind, BUT I would love to be able to pursue my love for fashion and go to fashion school.
What do you do to relax?
To relax, I enjoy watching movies, going shopping, catching up with friends and just being around people that allow me to have a tummy aching laugh, be myself and be happy.
Which athlete inspires you?
Roger Federer is an athlete that does inspire me and I will support him until he decides that he has had enough of his sport. He has recently said that while he is still playing decent tennis, albeit that he isn’t winning as frequently as he used to, he will continue to play the sport because he loves the game. That for me is huge, because he isn’t playing for the pay cheque at the end of every month but because he enjoys the game and is playing for himself.
What is your personal favourite motivational quote?
Favourite motivational quote: a Poem by Maya Angelou called “Still I Rise”
Although I am not religious, there is a quote that comes to mind: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference”.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Swim for you, and for no one else”.
What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?
My biggest challenge would be not swimming for myself but rather for other people (parents, coaches, media etc.)
When you’ve had a tough / bad day, what lifts you up again?
When I have had a bad day the one thing in life that manages to put a smile on my face would be my English bulldog named Geronimo.
I’m sure you have many things going on right now, what’s to be expected next from Rene Warnes?
I am currently in training and have started preparations for next year April which is when our SA National Championships are held, and they double over as qualifications for Olympics – RIO 2016.
Thank you so much Rene for taking this interview. We would like to wish you all the best for your preparations towards Rio Olympics 2016 and your academic journey ahead. We look forward to following you as you go from strength to strength. Blessings!
Rene is proudly sponsored by Speedo SA.