Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lasting Images of Beijing - Part 18

A Woman of Courage

Although she had already qualified for the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim back in May, Natalie du Toit was officially named to the South African Olympic team this past week.

Swimming World Magazine covered the 2008 World Open Water Swimming Championships where Natalie courageously qualified for the Olympics: Swimming World Magazine Reports from Seville

Her hurdles included arriving to Seville only the night before after a 12-hour flight where her luggage was lost. In her luggage, she had left the batteries for her prosthetic leg. As her batteries ran out, Natalie struggled around on a non-functioning prosthetic her competitors were getting good night's sleep. The backstory is at Swimming World Magazine Reports on Natalie

Never one to complain, Natalie continues to encounter challenges...and overcome them.

Currently, she cannot find a heated 50-meter pool to train in near her home, so Natalie is training 20,000 meters per day in a 25-meter pool in Johannesburg. For her 10K competitors, training in a short-course pool would not be optimal. But, for Natalie who is missing her left leg, this presents an even greater obstacle. She must not only double the number of flip turns in her workouts, but she also loses momentum and balance off of each turn.

But, there is a very good reason why broadcasters from South Africa to Tokyo are doing TV specials on Natalie:

“I don’t even think of one leg, two legs. When you’re racing in an able-bodied competition you’re all equal and you go out there and try your best, and that’s what counts."

Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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