St Mary’s Old Girls going to Commonwealth

2018-03-27 06:01
PHOTO: SuppliedParticipating in the Commonwealth Games in April are two Saints’ Old Girls, Emma Chelius (2013) and Erin Gallagher (2016).

PHOTO: SuppliedParticipating in the Commonwealth Games in April are two Saints’ Old Girls, Emma Chelius (2013) and Erin Gallagher (2016).

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WITH excitement and preparations mounting for the Commonwealth Games this year, two St Mary’s old girls, Emma Chelius (2013) and Erin Gallagher (2016), will be doing the country proud by representing South Africa in swimming in Australia in April.

Speaking to the Fever, Gallagher said: “Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to explain just how honoured I am to represent South Africa.

“It’s always been something that I’ve dreamed about being able to do since I was a young girl, and to see that dream turn into reality, really gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. I really hope I can do my country proud during the Commonwealth Games.

Chelius said that it’s a huge honour and blessing, and a culmination of years of hard work, so it is really exciting for them both.

She said: “I have always loved being in the water. I swam on my school swimming team and started competing for a club at around 11 years. I started at St Mary’s in Grade 8 after being awarded a sports scholarship for my swimming and the strength of the team was a huge motivation to attend St Mary’s, on top of falling in love with the school library during a tour on open day!

“I trained with Nick Gray and St Mary’s was an incredible ‘home-away-from-home’ for me during my 12-hour school days.

“My teachers were also extremely understanding and still pushed me to reach my full potential. I am such a proud Saints old girl and I will always cherish my time at school. And those amazing D&D galas were something I will never forget as long as I live!”

Gallagher added: “I have no words to describe just how accommodating and supportive St Mary’s was during my high school career. If I could, I would go back and start all over again.

If it weren’t for St Mary’s, I don’t think my swimming would’ve turned out the way it has. I owe a lot of what I have accomplished to this amazing school.

“Their constant support and complete and utter willingness to allow me to travel around the world to compete, and give of their own personal time to help me catch up on the copious amounts of work that I missed, certainly didn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.”

Chelius graduated with a B.Com in management accounting last year and is continuing with her honours at Stellenbosch University. She swims for Maties Swimming Club and also commends her coaches.

Although the duo believe there is room for improvement with women in sport in general, both are really excited at the potential and promising future for women’s swimming in the country.

“Looking at swimming in particular, the Commonwealth team is almost split 50/50 with the men and women qualifiers,” said Gallagher.

“It’s rare to see nearly as many women qualifiers as men qualifiers, not to mention that most of the women are under the age of 20 — go gals! I think what really encourages the younger athletes is seeing that we’re all really supportive of each other.

“When we race we have to forget about friendships, but as soon as the race is over, it’s all about congratulating everyone and being there for those who need the support.

“One of my favourite parts about swimming is the sense of unity and general respect for one another. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a part of something so special? And I’m sure the same could be said across most sporting codes. #GirlPower.”

Chelius echoed these sentiments. “It all starts with nurturing female athletes from school level and also understanding the idea that ‘women are not small men’ — we are different and subsequently have different training needs.

“We have a large Commonwealth Games team going this year and a bigger group of women than before.

“This is fantastic because it gives us exposure to international competition where we can learn from watching the best.

“I strongly believe that when women build each other up instead of constantly competing with one another, that is when the magic happens.”

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