Swimming to success

2016-09-27 06:00
Donne Hooper (15) and Amaarah Cornish, will be competing in the provincial u.15A and u.14A provincial water polo teams, respectively, during December in Durban.

Donne Hooper (15) and Amaarah Cornish, will be competing in the provincial u.15A and u.14A provincial water polo teams, respectively, during December in Durban.

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An unfortunate incident has turned into success for one of two talented, young swimmers from Grassy Park.

Donne Hooper (15) from Grassy Park fell into a pool when she was nine years old and never wanted to set foot near a pool or water again.

Her mother Anthia Hooper says their family loves water and decided to send her to swimming lessons and ever since then , success has followed Donne and her friend Amaarah Cornish (14).

Cornish’s mother, Miriam, says she sent her daughter to swimming lessons at age seven to become water wise.

And now these two girls from Grassy Park have taken the top spot in the Western Province schools water polo teams and the talented duo will soon compete in Durban.

Donne and Amaarah will be representing their school – Westerford High – and province during December in Durban.

They will be competing against various provinces in their respective age groups – Hooper will be competing in the u.15A group while Cornish will compete in the u.14A team.

Both girls were introduced to the water polo sport by the end of Grade 6, by the head of sport Lesley Dormehl at Wynberg Girls Junior School (WGJS).

“Since the introduction of the sport, the girls participated in various school challenges, including the Knysna Oakhill waterpolo festival, where the WGJS u.13A team was undefeated. Since then they represented their high school at numerous water polo challenges. Amaarah was awarded the All Stars award at the Cannons Creek tournament during 2015 and also made the provincial u.13B team,” Hooper explains.

Donne and Amaarah currently play for the Westerford first team being coached by Alex Hawkins.

Both girls are also currently swimming provincially through their club, Hurricane Aquatics, and have clocked some Level 3 times.

“The girls’ sport doesn’t stop there. They participate in the Discovery World Triathlon and Duathlon annually. They are currently provincial Biathlon athletes and were selected to represent the province in Oudtshoorn for two consecutive years during 2014 and 2015.

“Amaarah was selected to represent South Africa but had to decline due to the inter provincial waterpolo tournament held at Newlands,” Anthia explains.

The girls also participated in the Three Vlei race where they ran 10km.

“Donne is currently running for ARD as a junior and is now running 10km in (under) one hour. She has also participated in all winter league meets for ARD and loves the sport. Her mentor Eben Brummer says Donne has the ability to better her times in every race,” she says.

Even though the girls are only in Grade 9, Cornish says, they manage to fit in academics as well as all their sport.

“Even though they train the entire school week,the girls manage to keep up their grades. They have been taught from a young age that time management is key. With such a heavy schedule they are so determined to play for the University of Cape Town (UCT) once they complete Grade 12.”

The duo will be travelling to Durban off the funds generated from fundraisers and boerewors sales.

“We have to fund the trip from our own pockets so we sell boerewors rolls and the girls take the orders themselves. We also get donations from family and friends to make the trip possible,” Miriam says.

She adds they are very excited for the competition during December and hopes to join the girls on the trip.

“I’m really so excited because every year it’s so nerve-wrecking because there is so much talent every year. They work super hard to make it through trials,” Miriam explains.

Anthia laughs when asked how expensive the sport can become.

“They go through shampoos like crazy. They swim every day so they wash their hair every day – and there is about 12 to 14 towels to wash every week,” Anthia laughs.

“But the sacrifice is all worth it at the end of the day.”

Both moms agree that academics comes first before any sport, although Amaarah and Donne will agree that today’s youth doesn’t place enough emphasis on keeping fit.

“On the rare occasion that the girls have free time, they mange to help feed the needy with a group called the Grassy Park feeding scheme.Where personalities are concerned, Donne is a quiet individual, who loves reading and animals and aims to volunteer at the SPCA as soon as she is 16 years old,” Anthia says.

“Amaarah is a socialite and loves interacting with people of all ages. She also loves music and reading. Both these girls have a strong belief that charity and respect starts at home and one should never forget your roots,” Miriam says.

Both girls agree the youth should “press the pause button on their electronic devices, start getting active, enjoy and be proud of your environment and most importantly manage your time”.

“Also don’t let your circumstances dictate your ability.”

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