Toni Rafferty, a Diocesan School for Girls pupil who swims with the Aquabear swimming club, has done well for herself in the pool over the past weeks and at the age of 15, has qualified and swam in a final and semi-final at the South African Senior Nationals after winning two gold medals at the South African Junior Nationals competition.
In March, Rafferty swam in the SA Junior Nationals Champions competition in Durban and won gold medals for 100m and 50m freestyle. She swam the 100m freestyle in a grand time of 58.69, over and above this impressive time Rafferty would break the Eastern province (EP) domestic record, meaning that she broke the record against all the other swimmers that swim for EP and was able to break the age group AC record.
For the 50m freestyle, Rafferty swam in a time of 27.22 seconds, bringing home a second gold medal from Junior nationals.
When Grocott’s Mail spoke to Rafferty after she returned from the SA Juniors, she said “my goal swimming in the Junior National Champions gala is to qualify for a final in the South African Seniors Nationals Champions competition”. Rafferty trained well and kept her focus and determination and could achieve her goal and gold, and qualified to swim in a final and semi-final at the South African Senior Nationals competition, which took place in Durban on 3-8 April.
Rafferty swam in the Seniors Nationals competition all the way to he finals of her 50m freestyle where she placed 7th with 27.03sec. Rafferty also reached semi-final of the 100m freestyle in 59.69 seconds.
“I was happiest with my 50-free time of 27.03 which was a PB (and 7th place),” she said of her time in the seniors. “Though I was trying to go under 27 seconds I am happy with my time as it is closer then I have come to going under 27 before. Though I am still far away from the Olympics, my PBs (100 free 58.69, and 50 free 27.03) times bring me closer to the youth worlds’ qualifying times and possibly the youth Olympics.
“I am very happy with the outcome of these last two galas, I did better than I did last year and I achieved my goal which was to make a final.”
Noted swimming coach Sheena Price: “As for training we are on a short break now and resume next week where we start our usual endurance training in the winter months”. The next big event for the Aquabear swimmers will be the three-day Aquabear gala in October.
Price says that “Toni and all my swimmers train hard, three to four and half hours a day, five mornings and five afternoons a week.”
Rafferty plans to keep on training harder and keep the focus and determination on achieving and reaching her goals.