City’s Se­bastien makes a big splash

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZARA NI­CHOL­SON

CAPE Town Olympic swim­mer Se­bastien Rousseau trained all year in the pool but still man­aged a 75 per­cent ag­gre­gate for ma­tric.

Rousseau, 19, from Bergvliet has al­ready achieved more than most young peo­ple his age but is now set for even big­ger things. While many ma­tric pupils were still sleep­ing on Thurs­day morn­ing, Rousseau had al­ready been train­ing in the pool for well over two hours.

The Ab­botts Col­lege pupil has been swim­ming pro­fes­sion­ally since the age of nine and jug­gled train­ing, com­pet­ing and school in what he de­scribed as the “tough­est year” of his life.

He man­aged to main­tain a 75 per­cent ag­gre­gate through­out last year and passed his ma­tric exam with the same ag­gre­gate.

Rousseau said bal­anc­ing school and swim­ming was a chal­lenge. “It was quite a thing to do but I never go easy on my­self on any­thing. Swim­ming was never a prob­lem, I just had to make sure I got all my work done and stayed fo­cused.”

He was orig­i­nally meant to do ma­tric in 2008. How­ever, he took 2008 off so he could com­pete in the Olympics in Bei­jing.

Rousseau started his high school ca­reer at SACS High School but moved to Ab­botts Col­lege in Clare­mont so he could take breaks to swim at the high­est level.

Rousseau was ranked eighth in the world for 2009 and has held the 200m but­ter­fly African record since 2007.

While he has been train­ing hard for years and steadily mov­ing up the swim­ming ranks, Rousseau has kept his eye on the best place to study.

He was first ap­proached by the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and of­fered a schol­ar­ship but de­cided to look at other uni­ver­si­ties in the US.

“I want to go into sports psy­chol­ogy or sports man­age­ment and I ap­proached a few schools who were all in­ter­ested in me. They of­fered me schol­ar­ships as well and I went over last year and chose the Uni­ver­sity of Florida.

“The weather played a big role in my de­ci­sion, they’ve got a good cli­mate but it was mainly the coach and the train­ing pro­gramme.

“They also have a high cal­i­bre of swim­mers that I will be train­ing with.”

Rousseau said he chose to study in the US be­cause of the high level of com­pe­ti­tion.

“It will get me used to racing to be part of the Olympics and big com­pe­ti­tions, it will pre­pare me well.”

Many ma­tric­u­lants might still find them­selves con­fused about their fu­ture but the re­lay swim­ming team which won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens sealed Rousseau’s fate.

“That’s when I de­cided to swim pro­fes­sion­ally; the guys won gold and it just proved that South Africans can com­pete with the best in the world. That was an in­spir­ing mo­ment for me.”

At the age of 12, Rousseau made it into the Wester n Prov­ince team and at the age of 15 made the na­tional ju­nior team. In 2007 he joined the se­nior team and rep­re­sented the coun­try at the Olympics a year later.

This week­end he flies to Florida, where he will be study­ing for the next four years at least. he will fly back and forth to qual­ify for the Com­mon­wealth Games in In­dia in Oc­to­ber. If he gets into the Com­mon­wealth Games, his next goal is to qual­ify for the 2010 Olympic Games in Lon­don.

“I will study for be­tween four and six years, de­pend­ing on the amount of time I take off to train and com­pete.

“Af­ter the 2012 Games, I am go­ing to take it one year at a time and see whether I will go to the top with swim­ming but I need a good spon­sor for that. Oth­er­wise, af­ter get­ting a good de­gree, I would want to come back to South Africa and do some­thing to give back.”

PIC­TURE: LEON LESTRADE

SEN­SA­TION: Se­bastien Rousseau, 19, from Bergvliet, trains in Ron­de­bosch ear­lier this week. He was one of thou­sands to cel­e­brate a ma­tric suc­cess this week and is fly­ing to the US where he will study and train among the best in the world.

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