PRETORIA – Christin Mundell is the the latest swimmer to join the conveyor belt of stars that are being groomed to go up to the highest level in the University of Pretoria's (Tuks) team.
It seems Tuks has become the training ground for current and future women’s breaststroke champions.
At the Commonwealth Games, Tatjana Schoenmaker astonished with her exploits, winning both the 100m and 200m breaststroke events in African record times.
Then at the recent South African Senior Swimming Championships in Port Elizabeth, 16-year-old Mundell won silver medals in the 100m and 200m breaststroke and bronze in the 50m breaststroke. She also won the 200m individual medley.
Her feats also meant she qualified in three events for the Youth Olympic Games.
At the South African Age group Championships, Mundell won six gold medals (50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m breaststroke, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley) qualifying in all six events for the Youth Games.
Rocco Meiring is the common denominator in both success stories as he coaches Schoenmaker and Mundell.
The former Youth Commonwealth Games 200m breaststroke champion, Kelly Gunnell, was also coached by Meiring.
“I have the utmost of respect for Rocco. He looks like this big intimidating man, but he is all heart, and he is so passionate about his swimmers. He does not coach for the money or fame. Everything he does, he does for the love of swimming.
“That is why I could not help but get quite emotional when I saw Tatjana Schoenmaker won the two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. She and Rocco deserved the success," said Gunnell.
"I can confidently say that it will not be the last time that a Tuks female swimmer medals at a major international event.”
Mundell has been coached by Meiring since she was 11 and is full of praise for the role he plays in her swimming success.
“Rocco is the most committed coach I know. He is always there and never late. So we can't be either. And even if the sets are hard, he keeps us motivated. He cares about every swimmer in his squad on both a personal and swimming level.”
According to Mundell having the privilege to train with Schoenmaker is a definite extra incentive to push that little bit harder during each session.
“What Tatjana has done for women's swimming in South Africa is invaluable. She is an amazing role model. We are incredibly fortunate to have her in our squad and very proud of her.
"When we're training, Tatjana is just another person in our squad, so I think what I've learned most from her is that you can be super successful and also stay humble about it.”
Meiring said that a decision was made at TuksSwimming a few years ago to help lift the standard of South African women’s swimming.
“We are lucky to have Linda de Jager, who I consider to be one of the foremost women’s coaches in South Africa, also at Tuks.”
One of De Jager’s protégé’s is the 15-year-old Duné Coetzee who represented South Africa at the Commonwealth Games. At the Senior National Championships, she defended her title in the 200m butterfly.
She also won a silver medal in the 100m butterfly and silver in the 400m freestyle and bronze in the 800m freestyle. Coetzee qualified in all four events for the Youth Games.
African News Agency (ANA)