Ambitious Woodridge pupil sets high goals
Ambitious Port Elizabeth swimmer Amica de Jager aims to make the South African Olympics team and also become the World Ironman women’s champion one day.
“That is my ultimate goal. It’s what I am training towards,” the grade 12 Woodridge High School pupil said.
The open-water swimmer and lifesaver is the first Woodridge pupil in 20 years to have three honours awards – swimming, lifesaving and academics.
This year the 18-year-old was named the South African Junior Lifesaver of the Year.
She is also a member of the South African open-water swimming team.
The bubbly swimmer has collected so many medals in swimming and lifesaving that she has lost count of them all.
Next month De Jager will jet off to compete in New Zealand with the SA lifesaving team.
“It feels good to be chosen for the SA team. It’s such an honour and an amazing experience. I love the competing and the sport, for me it’s a reward for the goals I have set for myself.
“The preparations are going very well. I have just come back from a training camp in Durban where we all trained together as a squad.
“I am feeling very strong and I just can’t wait for the competition, especially because it is after my final exams. So it will be a nice reward.”
De Jager has swum competitively since she was seven and has never looked back.
“I got into swimming because my older sister started. I just followed her and we both love it.
“I train twice a day every day except for Sundays.
“What I enjoy most about swimming is the feel of the water and also how, when you dive into the water, you sort of forget about everything else. It’s just you and the water.”
She said her biggest swimming achievement so far was making the SA lifesaving team which took part in the World Lifesaving Championships In Netherlands last year.
There De Jager won seven medals. Although she has a pile of medals in her cabinet, De Jager said there were also other achievements close to her heart.
“My special medals are from the SA nationals in swimming and lifesaving.
“I also received a silver medal last year at the Orange Cup for SA, but my all-time favourite highlight this year was making the SA team for open-water swimming in Italy.
“There I swam 5km and 10km. Just being on the team was amazing.”
De Jager has excelled in sport and academics at school and has come first in her grade throughout high school.
She also received the JJ Du Plessis Memorial Scholarship Award for sound character and leadership, academic effort and achievement at Woodridge.
So how does she balance both sport and academics?
“With much difficulty and a lot of stress,” the Herald Continental Matric of the Year top-four finalist said.
“But basically I take it one step at a time. That is probably the most important thing. I take one day and just concentrate on what needs to be done.
“It’s been quite a challenge to juggle it all, but I myself can’t believe what I have managed.
“Being the first pupil to receive three honours in 20 years in Woodridge feels amazing. It has been my goal to get three honours since grade eight, because I looked on the awards board and I saw my swimming and lifesaving coach’s name, Haydn Holmes, on the board.
“He was the last person to get three honours, so I told myself that my mission was to also be on that board and match my coach,” she said.
“I plan to study further next year after completing matric.
“I have been accepted at the University of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela University, where I applied for a bachelor of computer science degree.
“I will probably go to NMU because they have the best computer science department in the country, plus I will also be close to my coach,” De Jager said.