Girl power at its absolute best is to be seen in this steely and determined champion swimmer – Nathania van Niekerk. SA is truly blessed to have young athletes with such purpose and soul like our Natz. She has been through many enriching life experiences for her young self, some tougher and much more challenging than others, but has come through victorious each and every time. She is firmly grounded in her faith in Christ and speaks with much hope and excitement of the future as she walks by faith and not by sight. She has also stepped out in her green and gold at many top meets, proudly representing our beautiful nation.
Congrats to Nathania on being elected Head Girl at TUKS High School for 2017. A leadership position that is befitting for a young lady with such vision to shine bright and make a difference in the lives of others, especially young swimming girls.
When asked “Who are you?” this was her response: “This is actually quite difficult as people only see me as a swimmer. I am a very big academic and a car fanatic. One of my greatest passions other than swimming is working with children. I aspire to be an inspiration to those younger than me and try to be the most positive person around at school and at swimming as my squad and friend group are very dear to my heart and play a big role in my life.”
Athlete: Bio / Stats
|Name & Surname||Nathania van Niekerk|
|Date of birth||1999/01/22|
|Place of birth||Kathu, Northern Cape|
|Coach’s Name||Linda De Jager|
|Out of Country events/ meets||Senior African Champs x2, Zone 6 U20 Games x2, Junior World Championships, BHP Billiton Series x2, Youth Olympic Games, Youth Commonwealth Games|
|Favorite City||Cape Town|
|Favorite Song/ type of music||Anything|
|Favorite Movie||The Croods|
|School & Grade||TuksSport High School, Grade 11|
|Twitter and Instagram names, facebook name||Instagram – natzvn
Facebook- Nathania van Niekerk
Twitter – @nathania58
|Parents Names, siblings||Hendrik van Niekerk (Dad)
Rene van Niekerk (mom)
Nicolai van Niekerk (Brother)
Q: You are 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?
It all started with water safety when I was really young, and then from there my brother was really the big swimmer, only once he stopped at the age of 11 did I really start focusing on my swimming. I broke my first SA record at the age of 12 and went on my first Senior National Team at the age of 13 after winning a bronze medal at Senior Nationals in 2012.
Q: What is the highest accolade that you have achieved in Swimming and what is your greatest personal accomplishment?
I can’t think of a single accomplishment that has been my biggest, as I have been extremely blessed throughout my career. But my greatest memories are being part of the Youth Olympic Team, placing in medal contention at Youth Commonwealth Games and being Senior National Open Champion for two years in a row.
Q: You swam wonderfully at Olympic trials – It was still one of the toughest, and most important sporting events for a swimmer to attend. Would you like to share what is on your heart and mind and how you experienced it?
Olympic trials was definitely the toughest competition I have ever attended. My training partner at the time Michael Meyer qualified on the Sunday evening and my main event was only the following Saturday so keeping your emotions on a low and staying calm after seeing your partner qualify was one of the toughest things to do. Coming to the race I had an extremely good semi-final being just under a second off of the qualifying time in the 200m backstroke so I was extremely confident and comfortable going into the final, but the pressure was really on because no other girl had qualified and I was the country’s last hope. To this day I will still say that it was the perfect race, there is not one thing I could have done differently, but at the time, I just wasn’t strong enough, but through it all I learnt a very valuable lesson and that is that everything happens for a reason.
Q: In your opinion, what is the value of Education in a young person’s life?
I think education is the most important thing a young person has to do/go through. Especially after not qualifying for Olympics this year I realized that swimming is not going to be around forever and I need to make sure that I have a life to go back to and a plan B in a sense for the day I retire.
Q: Would you like to share a little bit more about your faith journey and how it has affected your life / sports?
This year has been the toughest year of my life as I had constant battles with my faith. I remember how angry and lost I was after trials because I didn’t make it, and I remember the nights where I would lie in my mother’s arms crying because I couldn’t understand why my biggest dream/wish wasn’t granted. I felt completely lost after trials because my whole life was planned around that moment for the past 4 years. Only once I moved to Tuks and got settled into the Hostel and started training with my new squad did I realize what a big blessing I have been given to carry on swimming and to be in this environment. I then realized that God works in strange ways and you don’t always understand why things are happening but I now know that He has the perfect plan for me and I can put my trust in Him fully.
Q: What do you do to relax?
I mostly enjoy spending time with my family and friends over weekends and just relaxing at home or going out for dinner.
Q: One thing about you that the world does not know J
I am a complete fanatic about cars, I know everything there is to know about a V8 and a Turbo.
Q: What is your personal favourite motivational quote?
“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted.” – Christine Caine
Q: What is your favourite Bible / Scripture quote?
“I will walk by faith even when I cannot see.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
Q: In your opinion, how do you define success in life / how do you define a successful person?
I think success is relative to the life you want to live and what you find important. But personally a successful life for me is living a happy, healthy, faith based life and being able to give back to the country’s youth and swimming community.
Q: What’s your WHY ?
I want to be able to set an example for young female swimmers in the country and be able to give back to them and help them through the difficult things that female swimmers go through and give them advice on how I dealt with these things, so that we can build a better base of support for the female swimmers in this country.
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!