Karin Prinsloo, one of the stalwarts of women’s swimming in South Africa, took her first major step yesterday (Wednesday) to prepare herself for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio by having her tonsils removed. In one of his comedy sketches, Bill Cosby said that though the tonsils were supposed be part of the human body’s defence strategy, they often end up as ‘enemies’ of the body by undermining the immune system. This is exactly what happened to Prinsloo during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year.
The High Performance Centre (HPC) athlete became ill and was unable to win a medal, despite being considered to be a contender. The last thing she wants now is that this should happen again in Rio next year. To qualify for the Olympic Games goes hand in hand with many personal sacrifices and it is, therefore, a major challenge for most swimmers.
Prinsloo did not have an ideal start to her season. In February she was sidelined by a lower back injury and back spasms. It was quite serious and she was unable to train properly for four weeks during her build-up for the South African Championships in Durban.
Despite this set-back Prinsloo clocked 4:12.55 to win the women’s 400m freestyle title. The Tuks/HPC athlete also claimed the 200m freestyle in a time of 2:00.30 and took a silver medal in the women’s 200m backstroke in 2:13.12. She qualified for the 100m backstroke-final but opted not swim it as she was not sure how her body would hold up.
She was part of the women’s 4 x 100m Free Relay team that won silver in a time of 3:54.23. She was also a member of the mixed 4 x 100m medley relay team that won two gold medals. They won both the 4 x100m Medley Relay (3:59.00) and the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay (4:12.04), and they also won a bronze in the women’s 4 x 50m Free Relay (1:48.02).
Unfortunately for Prinsloo she did not qualify for the World Championships in Russia in any of her individual events. The closest she came to qualifying was when she won her semi-final heat in the 200-freestyle in a time of 1:59.32. This was merely 0.39s off the qualifying standard set by Swimming South Africa.
Naturally Prinsloo was disappointed about not qualifying, but she is also realistic. She says: ‘Going into SA’s, I knew that it was going to be tough to qualify. I was not as fit and sharp as I needed to be. Maybe the decision makers of Swimming South Africa will still decide to send a women’s relay team to the World Championships, but I am not going to get my hopes up that they will do so. Depending on how quickly I recover from the tonsil operation, I might still consider trying to qualify for the World Championships at some international gala. But maybe it will be good for me to stay at home and do some proper basic training. If I do that, I am sure that I will be able to swim world class times again by November and be in shape next year to hopefully qualify for the Olympic Games.’
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott