Swimming to success

15-year-old Oliver Ohm qualifies for FINA World Junior Championship

27 April 2021 | Sports

Mariselle Stofberg

Fifteen-year-old Oliver Ohm, a learner at St George’s Diocesan College, recently competed at the South African Junior Swimming Championships where he won several medals and broke a Namibian swimming record.

Ohm won bronze medals in the 50m, 400m and 800m freestyle, qualified for the FINA World Junior Championships and broke a Namibian record in the 800m freestyle, which was previously held by Phillip Seidler.

“The pool facilities were great and the people were very friendly. The competition taught me to focus on my goals and to change my mindset if things don’t go to plan. I enjoy training hard, pushing myself to the limit and accomplishing my goals and swimming makes me passionate about life,” he said.

Ohm qualified with 600 FINA points in two events and will represent the country at the championships in Kazan, Russia, in August 2021.

“I will prepare for this by putting in a lot of hard work at the pool and gym, eating a healthy diet, maintaining constant positivity and reminding myself of my accomplishments. I will set new goals ahead, maintain a strict sleeping schedule and discuss the right strategies with my coach,” he said.

Swimming is in his blood

Ohm started swimming at Dolphins Swimming Club at just two months old. “I currently train with coach Janis Stergiadis of Dolphins Swimming Club. He has been my coach for seven years,” Ohm said.

He wakes up at 04:00 during the week for his training and his morning training is from 05:00 until 06:30 every day. A typical morning training schedule for him would be to swim 5 km of various strokes and techniques.

“After morning training, I attend school until 13:30. Afternoon training starts at 16:30 until 18:30. An afternoon training schedule would be to swim on average 6-7 km of various strokes and techniques. To prepare for a meet, I listen to upbeat music and focus on my goals for that specific meet,” he said.

Ohm always plans his race in his head beforehand. “Physically, I attend training twice a day as well as gym sessions. I stretch and make sure I do a proper warm-up set just before the meet. I also focus on eating a healthy diet.”

Balance between schoolwork and sport is something Ohm always tries to maintain. “When I have free time or weekends, I plan and finish all my assignments, projects and homework before the due date, so that there is enough time for my swimming and recovery,” he said.

“I think the most challenging part of swimming is the excitement of qualifying for an international competition but realising that you might not be able to go because you do not have funding. It is really difficult trying to find sponsorships as an individual. My message to other swimmers and athletes would be to never give up and believe in yourself. Hard work pays off. You might not be the best at first but if you work hard at practice, stay disciplined and do your best, one day you will succeed,” Ohm added.