Madibaz swimming stars Alard and Alaric Basson emerged from two national events in the Western Cape delighted to at last get some competitive swimming under their belts.
The Nelson Mandela University construction management students had their goals severely disrupted since March last year due to the lockdown.
In addition, they both contracted the coronavirus, side-lining them from physical activity for several weeks.
The training camp and Grand Prix gala in Stellenbosch last week proved a valuable gauge of their conditioning and the twins are rejuvenated for the challenges ahead.
For Alard, the camp could not have come at a better time.
“It was a week of hard work followed by a weekend of tough racing,” he said.
“The camp gave us the opportunity to experience a competitive environment again after such a long time out.
“I personally haven’t raced in over a year so this was a fantastic opportunity to put in the hard work and to put my body through the intensity that it needs.”
He said his main goal was to make full use of the training block.
“This saw my body taking quite a knock, but I stood up and raced under those circumstances, still managing to win my main race (100m butterfly).
“I am not completely happy with the result, but I got what I wanted from the week and in that regard I am satisfied.”
Alaric had the same sentiments in terms of his conditioning.
“This camp was exactly what I needed to get back onto my feet in terms and where I found myself after lockdown,” he said.
“The training environment and the fact that there were no distractions really helped me to improve quickly – physically and mentally.”
He added that it almost felt “foreign” to be back in the pool for the Grand Prix.
“It was as if you were kind of lost in the way to approach and execute certain races.
“But, after actually racing, it immediately felt like that memory came back and it gave me a good idea of where I am and what I need to work on.”
Both swimmers are now focusing on the national Olympic trials, even though there remains some uncertainty that the Tokyo Games will go ahead in July and August.
Alard acknowledged the challenges of the situation but said his focus was on controlling what he could.
“In terms of my preparation, it is quite a mental rollercoaster, but I am just aiming at giving myself the best opportunity to reach my goal by putting in the extra hours in the gym, working on specifics at training and oiling the mind to execute what I want to achieve.
“My ultimate goal this year is to swim the A qualifying time of 51.9 in the 100m butterfly.”
Alaric said although the current situation was “a bit difficult”, lockdown had taught him valuable lessons.
“I would say it is probably more enjoyable for me now because of the setbacks.
“I think this whole pandemic just opened a lot of eyes and really emphasised the fact that the dreams we chase are merely personal goals that ultimately are not the be-all and end-all of our lives.
“We put so much pressure on ourselves to hit certain times and at the end of it you have to wonder if the stress was really worth it.
“I think we just have to find the enjoyment in what we do. It took lockdown for me to fully realise that and I think that took quite a bit of pressure off me.”
Having said that, he acknowledged he still had goals to achieve.
“The priority for me is just to train well and do what I can to be the best I can be, and then take it as it comes without any regrets.”
CAPTION: Madibaz swimming twins Alard and Alaric Basson have resumed training in earnest in preparation for the national Olympic trials. Photo: Supplied