Madibaz artistic swimming stars Courtney Musson and Nina Smith confirmed their standing in the sport when they were named in the South African squad following a recent national event.
The Nelson Mandela University pair competed in the Sportex Artistic Swimming Championships, which were held in a virtual environment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a year that has thrown up a special set of challenges, it was just another trial for the swimmers as they competed on dry land instead of water.
However, both were able to adapt to the demands of the competition.
Musson, who graduated with her masters in Human Movement Science this year, said competitors were asked to go through a range of movements in the headstand position in the championships.
“An example saw us starting in a headstand. From here we lifted our legs to a 90-degree angle and held this position, before extending our legs straight up to the ceiling and again holding this position.
“We were judged on how accurate our positions were, overall strength, stability and our movement timing.
“In addition, we performed basic strength exercises such as a plank hold for a certain time and a specific number of push-ups. In these exercises the judges looked at technique and our overall upper body and core strength.”
She finished runner-up to Cape Town-based national teammate Emma Manners-Wood.
Smith, a first-year dietetics student, described the competition as “an amazing experience”.
“It made the judges and the swimmers think outside of the box as we usually only compete in the water. It was a good challenge,” said the 20-year-old who, like Musson, has been selected for national squads in the past.
In a year turned upside down by Covid-19, Musson said she realised that life could change in a flash.
“The best lesson I have learnt is that you have to be willing to adapt to the world and the challenges it throws at you by being more creative. Nothing is impossible – we just have to make it possible.”
Although the absence of the normal facilities made training more complex, she said it provided the opportunity to interact with others in the same situation.
“I participated in a number of Zoom sessions with clubs from around the world, including England, Malta, Turkey and the USA,” said Musson.
“It was such a privilege to learn from other synchro athletes and coaches who were experiencing the same lockdown restrictions. It was like we formed our own little virtual club and it gave the athletes from all the clubs something to look forward to each week.”