Star swimmer brings home the gold

Vineyard Swimming Club member Mahdi Galant, 12, showed no favours in the swimming pool when he raked in seven gold medals at the Western Cape Junior Regional Championships in George, earlier this month.

Vineyard Swimming Club member Mahdi Galant, 12, showed no favours in the swimming pool when he raked in seven gold medals at the Western Cape Junior Regional Championships in George, earlier this month.

The youngster took top honours in the 50m butterfly, 50m breaststroke, 100m breaststroke, 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 200m mixed relay and 200 freestyle relay at the WC regional champs.

Mahdi said he learned to swim at the age of four at Stars Swimming School, in Athlone.

Two years later, he decided to take a break from swimming and only returned to the swimming pool last year to compete.

“I stopped swimming when my instructors thought I was doing well and moved me from the baby pool into the big pool.

“But, I wasn’t ready to make that change, and decided to stop swimming,” said Mahdi.

“I wanted to start doing sport again and tried out rugby and some other sport.

And, that’s how I found my way back into swimming and I joined Vineyard Swimming Club,” he said.

With just a short space of time at his new swimming club, Mahdi looked to make his mark on the swim scene.

His first gala was in May last year, then he competed in August to improve his times.

“The club has branches all around Cape Town so I try to get as much training as possible.

“In summer I train at the Rondebosch branch and during winter I train at the Sweet Valley indoor pool,” said Mahdi.

“In March, I competed in the Western Province junior league championships which was a big confidence booster for me before the WC regional champs.

“Also, I’m trying to catch up with my cousin, Asma Parker, who lives in England.

“We are the same age and she has really good times.

“And, I’ll see her soon when she comes to visit – they usually come down during Ramadaan,” he said.

At the junior league champs, Mahdi won gold for the 50m breaststroke, silver for 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 100m breaststroke, and bronze for the 50m butterfly.

His mother, Insawf, said her son is shy and has a quiet determination when he sets himself goals.

“Mahdi listens attentively to instructions and follows through to the best of his understanding.

“He showed signs of moving forward with his sport.

“And, after some try outs in various sport, he found that he enjoyed swimming most and decided to push for it,” she said.

The swimmer said he’s already training with the club’s senior team and will compete with them next year.

And, if all goes as planned, he hopes to one day earn his WC colours and make the national team.