Minke Janse van Rensburg with her coach Sybeth Hughes. Supplied image.
Minke Janse van Rensburg with her coach Sybeth Hughes. Supplied image.

Teen Down Syndrome super swimmer is smashing records

By Norman Cloete Time of article published Feb 28, 2021

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A young George resident is making waves in the pool and admitted that she loves breaking things. In Minke Janse van Rensburg’s case, it’s records that she’s breaking.

The 16-year old Down Syndrome super swimmer recently had an excellent day in the pool and improved some items by almost 10 seconds. In the 100m freestyle event, Minke broke the open Down Syndrome world record, held by 32-year-old Mexican, Dunia Camacho, that was set at the 9th Down Syndrome World Championship in Canada, in July 2018. Minke took bronze in that event.

Her new record time is 1:21.05. She is now the holder of eight junior long course Africa records, two open Africa long course records, two junior world long course records, one world open long course record, seven junior short course Africa records, five open Africa short course records, three junior world short course records, and one world open short course record.

Proud father Hennie Janse van Rensburg said Minke also surprised everyone with her times in the other items she swam: in the 200m freestyle event, she improved her previous junior world record by almost nine seconds. The new record time of 3:02.84 is also a new open Africa record. In both the 50m butterfly and 50m breaststroke events, she set new junior Africa records.

The family said they owe much of Minke’s success to the dedication of her swimming coach from the Sammy Seal Swimming Club in George, Sybeth Hughes.

“I love to swim. The others will all come second. I am going to break things – records, I mean,” said Minke.

The teenager said she wants to be a lawyer and also work at her mom’s pre-school.

“I am going to make sure that everyone does what they are supposed to and I also want to feed the kids at mom’s school, but I will never stop swimming,” she said.

According to the still-smiling father, his daughter trains five days a week, for two hours per day, at the Carpe Diem school for children with special needs.

He added that Minke is not only a swimming sensation, she can also complete 321 sit-ups in one go.

“I do not know many people who can do that,” he said.

Janse van Rensburg and his wife said they decided early on that Minke was not going to become a couch potato and eat chips all day.

“We made a conscious decision to stimulate her. She has been surprising us from an early age. She is very competitive and she loves to run,” he said.

Much of Minke’s love of sport comes from her older brother Henko, 21, who is a Business Management student at the University of Port Elizabeth, and is said to be excited about his baby sister’s performance.

“Whenever we went to Henko’s sporting events, Minke wanted to support her brother and she saw how he excelled and followed in his footsteps. These days, I don’t swim but I am always willing to put on my takkies for my children,” said Janse van Rensburg.

The family sometimes has to drive between 350 to 450km to competitions to satisfy the requirements of the Down Syndrome International Sport Organisation.

“They now require that all swimming pools have touchpads to digitally register times. Most of the pools around George don’t have those, so we drive,” he said.

Minke has only been swimming since the age of 13 years and her proud parents said her progress since then has been simply astonishing.

The Saturday Star

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