Epworth pupil selected for SA Paralympic swimming team

2016-08-03 06:00
Epworth matric pupil Alani Ferreira rests while training at the Seals Swimming Club recently. PHOTO: ian carbutt

Epworth matric pupil Alani Ferreira rests while training at the Seals Swimming Club recently. PHOTO: ian carbutt

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AN Epworth matric pupil, Alani Ferreira, has been selected as part of the South African Paralympic swimming team.

Alani will be flying to Rio de Janeiro to swim in the Paralympics on 31 August, competing in the 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 200m individual medley and the 400m freestyle.

Alani, who has a genetic disorder where she has lost her central vision and only has peripheral vision, was selected as the only South African swimmer from Pietermaritzburg.

After years of training and hours spent in the water, Alani received the news of her selection on 19 July - her 18th birthday.

“It was the best birthday present ever. I was so excited,” she said.

“It still hasn’t properly sunk in and it feels like a dream. It will probably hit me when I am behind the block at the pool just before the gun goes off.”

Alani has been swimming since the age of four and when she saw her older brother competing in galas, she decided that was what she also wanted to do.

“When I was 10, I decided to stop swimming and focus on hockey and tennis, but I was diagnosed with the disorder at age 12, and was advised to go back to swimming and stop the rest.”

The youngster said now there is not a single day that goes by without her swimming.

“I love it. If I’m stressed it relaxes me and if I cannot swim I get withdrawal symptoms,” she said, laughing.

She said her favourite races are the 100m breaststroke and the 400m freestyle.

“I am confident. My goal is to make it to the finals and by 2020 I want to win a medal.”

Alani said she felt her biggest competition would be the U.S.

“They are very strong and very good.”

In April, Alani broke the African swimming records for the 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke and the 100m individual medley.

When she is not in the pool she is either playing the piano or the saxophone while trying to study for finals in between.

“I finish trials a few days before I leave and will miss two of my finals, but supplementary exams have been arranged.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience - it is now or never, and the time is now.”

Epworth marketing head Vicky Crookes said the school “could not be prouder of Alani”.

“She is an inspiration to her peers and has worked tirelessly to reach her goals.”

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