|This year Luca Holtzhausen (12) competed in the Midmar Mile (in the males under-13 and males 31 and over event) for the fourth time. He was recovering from a shoulder injury and, unusually, felt a little nervous before the race. So when his mother Caroline and the rest of his family heard a commentator talking about an unidentifiable swimmer who was at the front with two other competitors, they didn’t pay much attention.
They were taken aback when Holtzhausen followed two adults out of the water, finishing third in the event, and first in the under-13 section, clocking a time of 20.14 minutes.
Holtzhausen, a grade six learner at Westville Senior Primary School in Durban, holds the South African record in five under-11 long-course swimming events, and six under-11 long course events. He’s also the KwaZulu-Natal record holder in eleven under-11 short course events, and eleven under-11 long course events. These records include all four swimming strokes — freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly.
When Holtzhausen began swimming as a pre-school learner, his coach immediately noticed his potential. At seven he was training with children much older than him, due to the strength of his stroke. From there it was onto Seagulls Swimming Club, which is headed by the South African swimming team’s head coach, Graham Hill.
He trains six times a week, and gave up cricket — a sport he also excelled in — thanks to his schedule. “I don’t want to get injured,” he explains. “I can train straight after school and not be tired after other sports.” However he does have a go at shot put for his school, and has held the KwaZulu-Natal record for his age group for the past two years.
His immediate goal is to qualify for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which will take place in Durban. “I’ll be 18 years old … my next goal is swimming in the 2024 Olympics — this is my ultimate dream.” — Fatima Asmal