Freestyler nets invite to worlds
A stroke of success has landed swimmer Tracy Keith-Matchitt a spot on the Cook Island team heading off to the FINA World Short Course Championships next month.
Keith- Matchitt, originally from Tokoroa, is one of three swimmers attending the Doha event from December 3 to 7.
The 24-year-old, who still swims under the Tokoroa Swimming Club banner despite living in Palmerston North, said this will be her first international competition.
And as if the spot on the national team is not impressive enough, Keith-Matchitt has been awarded an all expenses paid for, three-month FINA training scholarship to Ohio next year.
The competitive freestyler certainly did not take to the pool like a fish when first introduced to the sport 19 years ago, and with size 71⁄
2 feet, you would not typically pick her for a swimmer.
‘‘I used to hate it, I would never get in the water so mum took me to swim lessons. I just remember saying to myself one day, ‘when did I start racing?’.’’
The part-time coach now swims the equivalent of a marathon every week.
And that is the bare minimum, she said. It wouldn’t be uncommon to find her gyming it, participating in box-fit classes and hitting the pave- ment a few times too.
Keith-Matchitt said the strangest part about her routine is that she trains alone and reports to her Auckland-based coach Horst Miehe.
‘‘People ask us ‘how on earth does that work?’ and we don’t know, it just does.’’
Despite her obvious dedication to what she describes as one of the hardest individual sports to compete in, Keith-Matchitt’s upcoming debut on the world stage was unexpected.
‘‘At the end of last year, I decided well you know I’m going to be making all these changes so why not see if they [Cook Islands] are interested in me as an athlete.’’
She said she put an athlete profile together and sent it off with the help of her Cook Island aunty in Tokoroa, and was blown away by the response.
‘‘Eventually they came back and said, ‘ we would be absolutely delighted to have you as an athlete . . . where have you been hiding?’.’’
She will be looking to beat her personal best of 26.6 seconds in the 50 metres while also competing in the 100m race.
Thanks go to her family, coach Horst Meihe, partner Ramone Breuer, and the South Waikato Indoor Pool staff.
Tracey KeithMatchitt will represent the Cook Islands at the FINA World Short Course Championships.