Emerging as an immense talent at last year’s South African Swimming Championships in Durban, teenage sensation Rebecca Meder has had to make tough decisions in pursuit of her Olympic dream.
The 15-year-old swimmer was the undisputed queen at the 2017 national championships where she won five individual gold medals in the 1 500m, 800m and 200m freestyle, as well as the 400m and 200m individual medley events.
Meder has had her sights set on making her Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games since she first started swimming back in 2011, and last year’s nationals provided affirmation that she was on target, which prompted her to make some changes in order to achieve her goal.
“Rebecca switched to homeschooling after senior nationals last year because she has an Olympic dream, and 2020 is in her matric year,” her coach Bianca Marais said at the Speedo SwimCoach Conference in Pretoria last week.
“She figured if she can do homeschooling she can finish the year prior to that. Instead of doing it in two years, she will be doing it in a year-and-a-half.”
Meder decided to give this year’s Commonwealth Games a miss to focus on her exams.
The Cape Town native raced at the Western Province Championships, which was held at the same time as the trials, and she posted some fast times.
Meder posted Commonwealth qualifying times in the 400m freestyle, 200m breaststroke, 200m and 400m individual medley.
“She has focused a bit more on open water as it doesn’t clash with her exams, so she has qualified to go to junior worlds in September, which is a month before the Youth Olympics,” Marais said.
“We had to pick between the two and she will be going to the World Junior Open Water Championships, which is in her age group and is a bit better.”
Meder will be racing at her first major senior gala at the Monaco leg of the Mare Nostrum series next month.
She will look to qualify for the Fina World Short Course Championships in Zhengzhou, China in December.
Next year Meder and Marais will decide between the global senior or junior long-course championships, but it will depend on how she does at the national trials.
“We were already talking about Olympic qualifying times last season and that has always been there,” Marais said.
“We know what our goals are for 2020.”