By Mark Etheridge
South African swimming’s “Most Promising Athlete of the Year” in 2009, Sebastien Rousseau is now firmly focused on doing well at his first Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India later this year.
The former Capetonian is based at Florida University in the United States and is lapping up the different challenges and extra competition.
“The training here is similar to the programme that I was on in Cape Town with previous coach Karoly von Toros, in the fact that it was IM (Individual Medley) based. This means that I’ll train all of the strokes in practice,” he said from Florida.
“At this stage I put a little more focus into the butterfly stroke as this is my best race.”
Rousseau reckons that the intensity of the programme is also similar to his Cape days “excepting that I have a lot more people to race in training. It’s a very competitive environment, which is a very big reason for me coming to the States, as I believe that this is what can take me to the next level.
“Believe me, training with someone like Ryan Lochte is incredible as he brings his best to every set and that makes everyone else work harder trying to stay with him. We do slightly more mileage that I did previously, but I believe in my new coach, Gregg Troy.”
In terms of lifestyle, Rousseau says it’s been something of an eye-opener.
“For the first four months I lived in the dorms on campus and then at the beginning of May I moved out and am now living in an apartment with two of my new frinds and teammates… very different from what I was used to living with my family back home but I’m enjoying the different challenges of having to look after yourself.
“Being out of your comfort zone forces you to grow up and take responsibilities and teaches you life lessons for the future. It has been made easier for me though, because everyone on the coaching staff and swimming team has been so helpful since my arrival. Whenever I have a problem, I know that if I need help, there will always be someone who can help.”
Rousseau has two big goals for the second half of 2010. “I have two major international competitions coming up: the Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine, California and the Commonwealth Games in India. The Pan Pacs are taking place at the end of August and as Commonwealth Games is my more important swimming meet this year, I will not be resting for Pan Pacs – rather using in as racing experience and just to see where I am at before ‘Commies’.
“I am very excited to swim at my first Commonwealth Games, representing South Africa against some of the best in the world. I will be swimming the 200m IM, 200m butterfly and 800m freestyle relay.”
Busy times ahead but good news as South Africa look to continue their good showing of previous Commonwealths.