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Kaylene Corbett

Corbett eager to get back in the water

Kaylene Corbett, who had been on course to compete at her first Olympics in Tokyo next month, is keen to get back in the water after the 10-week Covid-19 lockdown and with it a fresh perspective on things.

The South African, who made a clean sweep of the women’s breaststroke titles in the absence of Tatjana Schoenmaker at last year’s African Championships in Morocco, chooses to see the glass as half full rather than half empty in a time when most want to spell the word frustration in capital letters.

Corbett’s ‘journey’ was not an easy one.  As she did not have access to a pool, she had to train on land. Which is never a good thing if you are a swimmer. She sustained knee and hip injuries. Despite doing so, she is far from down and out. The Tuks swimmer opted to be philosophical as to her woes and joked that a ‘fish’ belongs in the water and not on land.

She qualified for the Tokyo Olympics last year by swimming a time of 2min 24.18sec in the 200m breaststroke. To her, a definite highlight was when she finished eighth in the final during the World Championships in Korea. Equally as exciting is that she seems to be getting faster. In the last 18 months, Corbett improved on her best time by three seconds.

Corbett admits that after the South African Swimming Championships had been cancelled and the Tokyo Olympic Games postponed there was a day, or so she was frustrated.

‘At the time, one can’t help but wonder for what you have been training all these months. Then I realised feeling sorry serves no purpose. There are still so much to be grateful for. It is actually rewarding to try and find something each day that excites you … motivates you to give 100%.

‘The Games being postponed might yet turn out to be a blessing in disguise. I got an extra year to prepare to be the best I can. Now is the time to work on all those little things I have forever neglected to do.’

The South African blames herself for her injury woes. ‘When the lockdown started, I was super motivated to still give it my all every day. I ran. Cycled. Skipped rope. Did box jumps etc. I never took into account that my body is not used to such high impact exercises all the time. When I was swimming, I did all these exercises at most three times a week.

‘The one good thing that came about from the lockdown is that it made me realise never to take anything for granted again. Once I am back in the pool, I shall savour every moment and never complain no matter how much I might suffer during training.’

Photo: Roger Sedres/ImageSA/Gallo Images