Setting an example through hard work and dedication, Ethan du Preez became the youngest 16-year-old who holds the title of the fastest 200m butterfly swimmer in the world.
This Grade 11 Milnerton High School learner got a glimpse of his future when he qualified for the finals at the 7th Fina World Junior Swimming Championships last year, being the only South African who made the final.
According to his father, Mauritz du Preez, regardless of Ethan’s age, he competes against well-known swimmer Chad le Clos.
“I think he was about nine years old when he won a 200m freestyle race when we knew that he had a swimming talent. Ethan just has a natural timing when it comes to swimming. Also during an event in East London, his passion for swimming stood out for us there because he really gave it all,” Mauritz said.
The future Olympic glory who started swimming at the age of three, competed in the big leagues at the age of six and represented the Western province at the age of nine.
Although he never claimed top spots at first, it was his determination and passion which ultimately led to his success today.
Mauritz added, “The guys he competed against are among the top 10 swimmers in the world who’s older than him. He was the only 16-year-old to compete. Swimming has also become much more lucrative than 10 years ago.”
However, Ethan is well aware of the rigours associated with being an elite athlete while studying at school. Milnerton High School headmaster, Paul Besener, said they have had long debates with the family regarding his schooling.
“If he does qualify for the Olympics, his training schedule will be so tough and, by his own admission, he will have to repeat Grade 11 next year. It’s impossible to do justice to his academics with his swimming – having to train most of the time and be out of the country. We’ve agreed as a school that this is the best for him at the moment and we will continue to support him throughout his swimming career,” Besener said.
According to Ethan, swimming is not like any other sport considering the fact that the swimmer is deaf, blind and dumb while underwater.
“You’re on your own for that time in the water and it takes discipline and a huge commitment,” he said.
With only a few weeks left to get some training under his belt, Ethan has no doubt that he will achieve his goals.
“With all sport you have to aim high or not do it at all if you want to do it competitively. You can’t do any sport half-heartedly,” he said.
The promising butterfly swimmer is aiming to take part in the 2020 Olympics and hopes to break the world record.
Speaking to TygerBurger, Ethan said the secret to his success is to train as much as one possibly can. He explained, “Currently, I train two hours in the morning, from 05:00 to 07:00, followed by an hour of gym and oxygen session. In the afternoon I train from 14:30 till 17:00 as well as with my training partner and coach.”
Ethan’s mother, Melanie du Preez, said they are extremely proud of their son.
“My son is following his dreams and we are very proud of him. Swimmers sacrifice a lot because their sport is so time-intensive. We will continue to support him,” she said.
For Ethan, the most challenging is the 400m freestyle.
“You don’t know if you have to pace it or sprint it,” the young swimmer said.
Ethan will be competing at the Grand Prix in Durban this weekend following the National Junior and Senior Championships, as well as the All African Games in April where he will give his all to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
His philosophy in life is: “By failing you learn and by learning, you will succeed. Nothing comes without hard work.”
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