By Mark Etheridge
She may have swum a bit under the radar at the recent Hungarian national championships and Olympic trials where Chad le Clos won four medals but Ronwyn Roper returned even hungrier for success ahead of next week’s national championships in Durban.
Roper, a breaststroke specialist, swam in three distances in this discipline and came home to Durban with a fourth, second and first spot.
Her gold-medal performance came in the 200m where she won in 2min 29.04sec, her second spot came in the 100m and the fourth was in the 50m sprint distance.
All the more encouraging was her performance level. “I achieved my best time in each event,” she enthused to Road to London 2012 this week. “That’s left me feeling a lot more confident ahead of nationals.
“Hungary was an awesome experience. I wasn’t sure of what to expect going in with taper for nationals having just started but I left with some good swims which was what I was hoping for.”
The longer of her three breaststroke events is where she’s focusing on with the London Olympics looming in the background. “I’m hoping to swim an Olympic qualifying time for the 200m at nationals. The time is 2min 26.89sec and I’m on a 2:29.04, so 2.15sec to go! I’m feeling confident in my training and I think I can give it a good go,” said the Graham Hill coached athlete, who swims for the popular Seagulls Club in Durban. Before she moved to Hill’s school of swimmers she was with the Seals’ club’s Wayne Riddin.
“I’ve been there for a year and a half now and am absolutely loving it,” said the 24-year-old who is no stranger to the world swimming circuit. “My first big one was when I was 13 and made the junior SA team to Brazil. I went again when I was 15. I have been to Australia twice for Youth Commonwealth and Pacific School Games, and been to Europe for the Mare Nostrum series four times. I’ve also gone to the Singapore leg of the World Cup twice and Morocco for African Champs two years ago.”
A product of Pinetown High School, Roper started swimming with Margaret Martin at the Beavers club when she was just nine. “Before that I just took part in school swimming. Margaret was very patient and enthusiastic in teaching me all I needed to form my breaststroke and definitely set me on the right path.”
A former marketing student she now has her own swim school in Westville. “It is going really well! Its nice to pass on some of my knowledge to the littlies! So with that and swimming I don’t really have time for much else!
She heaps high praise on coach Martin. “I wouldn’t be the swimmer I am today if it wasn’t for all her time and care that she spent on me.”
Hopefully all that time and care will be well rewarded should young Ronnie Roper tie up the loose ends in her qualification bid for London.