Saturday, January 12, 2008

Roxanne: Olympic Ambitions (PART 1)

Something is wrong. The swimmer in the lane next to me is kicking my butt badly. I am swimming freestyle and she – yes, a sweet doll of a girl - is keeping pace with me, and she’s just kicking. I check under water for fins. No fins. I catch my breath. A naughty smile betrays that a lot is happening inside the pretty head of Roxanne Meyer. By Nick van der Leek

I find out post workout that this 2 hour, 6km swim turns out to be a par for the course workout, and the second of the day. She trains like this every day, Sundays too, and she is not only one of the best swimmers in the country, but has made a World Cup final. Anything else? Yes, didn’t you know it’s the year 2008, which means the Beijing Olympics are in August, and training for all the Olympic hopefuls is about to get even harder. Alrighty then.

Okay, so the girl can swim a bit, she’s a lot attractive. That’s the whole story, right? Well, not quite…

NVDL: Have you heard the song ‘Roxanne’.
Rox: [Smiles] Yes.
NVDL: And? Do you like it?
Rox: Well I heard it in Moulon Rouge and I loved that movie, so yes.
NVDL: [Forming a pun] Is Roxanne in Moulon Rouge?
Rox: Yes.
NVDL: [Smiles] Really?
Rox: Yes, and it was definitely in one of the best scenes in Moulon Rouge.

NVDL: Ok. Obvious question: Do you know Ryk and Roeland well?
Rox: I know Roeland better, because he comes to swim all the galas in South Africa, and at the after parties we chat.
NVDL: How are they different?
Rox: I think Ryk is very focused, he’s more serious; Roeland’s more relaxed.
NVDL: What about Ryk’s sister Jean Marie?
Rox: I don’t really know her at all. I haven’t spoken to her. I’ve seen her swim and she’s very talented.
NVDL: Do you think she’ll make this year’s Olympics?
Rox: I really have no idea. She didn’t race in many of the galas this year because she wrote matric, and now she’s gone to America to swim. So I don’t know what kind of shape she’s in.

NVDL: Okay so we’re talking about the likes of Ryk and Roeland, people probably want to know: ‘What have you achieved’?
Rox: Well should I start at the beginning?
NVDL: Is it such a long story?
Rox: [Laughs] Yes.
NVDL: Ok well, how old are you now? 19?
Rox: Yes
NVDL: And it’s a long story?
Rox: 9 years.
NVDL: Jeepers. Is it that long? So you started achieving when you were 10?
Rox: 11.
NVDL: And when did you start swimming?
Rox: When I was 8.
NVDL: So how did you start?
Rox: I started when my dad was transferred to Kimberely. It was very hot there and we didn’t have a pool, so we went to the public pool. A lady there – Amanda Greenan – encouraged me to swim. And then I saw people training and then I started. There was an old guy there who said I was quite talented.
NVDL: So you saw people training in a pool and you just started training with them?
Rox: Yes. I started swimming because there was a club there.
NVDL: Fair enough.
Rox: And then I made Griqualand West at the age of 8 or whatever.
NVDL: In your first year?
Rox: Yes.
NVDL: So you’re 8 years old, you’ve made Griqualand West, then what?
Rox: I moved to Joburg when I was 10 or 11 and started swimming with Vivienne Kukard in Krugersdorp. At that stage we trained very hard. We did so much mileage. I think what also helped me is we did lots of sprint work. Everything was very hard, and sets were on specific times. I was very young and I got very thin very quickly. And so when I was 11 I broke the South African records in the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke by a couple of seconds. I broke CGA records in other things like 200m IM and whatever…
Rox: But from the beginning it was backstroke, and I qualified for senior nationals in the backstroke at the age of 11. I’m still the youngest ever swimmer to have done that in South Africa.

Doesn't this picture below look a lot like Natalie Portman?

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