Meet Seth (4) — Midmar Mile’s youngest competitor

2014-02-08 00:00

FOUR-YEAR-OLD Seth Hopkins, the Midmar Mile’s youngest competitor ever, is a “medical miracle” who doctors said would be disabled. Swimming had a lot to do with his recovery.

His mother Lindsay described this week how her only child went without oxygen for 18 minutes after he was born, before being resuscitated. “He was down to be blind and deaf. We were living in the UK at the time and had minimal medical support, apart from osteopathy and a sensory programme. I’m a swimming teacher and used swimming to make him strong.” She said she had wanted to “prove everyone wrong” about his chances of recovery.

Swimming the 1 600 m event this weekend was Seth’s idea, she said. “We had no intention of him swimming but when he heard we (his parents) were going to do it, he said he wanted to do it too. We said ‘Don’t be daft!’ at first, but then we thought, why not? He’s a very strong kid, and quite bolshy.”

Lindsay said they were a sporty family — she’s a former professional competitive surf life-saver who now paddles for recreation, while her husband Mark has been involved in professional hockey and plays water polo. The family live in Parkhurst, Johannesburg.

“Seth has been swimming since birth,” she said. “At 15 months, he was swimming to the step in the pool from a few metres away and at two years he was swimming independently without me in the pool. He now swims 30 lengths of the pool at Virgin Active and when we went to the beach at uShaka recently he swam out to backline.”

While she’d had no criticism of the decision to let him participate in the Midmar Mile, she acknowledged that they had to be careful. “We’re entered in the family race and we’ll be with him all the way. We’ll see how it goes. If he’s had enough, we’ll put him on our backs.”

She said part of her motivation for letting Seth — who’s in Grade R this year — swim the Mile was about raising awareness. “This is not such a big thing. It’s quite natural­ for kids to be able to swim from a young age, and lots of kids can do it.”

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