How Bishops pupil Houlie got to swim to Youth Olympics gold
Sport / 15 October 2018, 07:00am / Dominic Adriaanse
Cape Town - Record-breaking swimming sensation Michael Houlie, 18, took gold in the men’s 50m breaststroke final at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday.
The Bishops pupil swam the fastest time in Youth Olympics history in the semifinals of the 100m event, breaking the South African record for boys aged 18, previously held by Cameron van den Burgh.
Houlie swam a Youth Olympic Games best in the event with a time of 1:00.23 to qualify 1st to the final.
Van den Burgh swam 1:01.73 more than a decade ago at the 2007 South African National Championships.
“I went for gold. Breaststroke is different to the other strokes, regaining rhythm takes more out of you because you are fighting against the water.
‘‘Cameron has indeed contacted me over Instagram... just saying, well done Mikey, and that really means a lot to me.”
Houlie holds the national age records for 15s, 16s, 17s, and 18s.
His victory on Friday came under the weight of expectation, as the young man from Rondebosch came 5th in the men’s 100m breaststroke final last Monday.
His elated parents, Colleen and Sam, together with their younger daughter Amy-Jo, have been with Michael in South America as he redeemed himself in the final.
Colleen said her son was in his element in the water from the age of seven, but was not a regular swimmer because he played all sports and eventually excelled at water polo.
“At his prep school, he broke every breaststroke record from age seven to 13. At age 12, he moved to a Hungarian coach who told us that Michael had great potential and needed to drop water polo and focus on swimming. At that time, Michael was a Western Province schools player, participating in tournaments across the country,” she said.
“We are naturally proud of Michael’s growing list of achievements in swimming. We are even more proud of how he conducts himself generally, not just swimming.
“He is a good young man, with his feet firmly on the ground.
‘‘You will always find him smiling and happy,” Colleen said.
After the games, Michael will return to write matric exams before representing South Africa at the Africa U20 championships in Botswana in early December, where he is the defending champion from 2016, in the 50m and 100m breaststroke.
After Christmas he leaves for the US, where he has a five-year swim scholarship at the University of Tennessee.