WINDHOEK, 13 MAY – Mothers play a crucial role in shaping a child’s future. But what does it take to raise a teenager who is a top Namibian swimmer and dreams of doing it professionally? This is a role performed by supermoms, exceptional mothers who successfully manage a home, raise children and have a fulltime job.
Belinda Wantenaar and Zenobia Beukes, are such fulltime working mothers who also manage their sons’ demanding swimming careers. Seventeen-year-old Ronan Wantenaar and twelve-year-old José Canjulo, are one of Namibia’s top swimmers. The pair have been breaking records both at home and abroad.
Wantenaar and Canjulo have a list of accolades to their names. Wantenaar broke the following Namibian records: 200m Individual Medley, 200m Breaststroke and 50m Breaststroke at the South African Nationals Aquatic Championships. In 2017, he broke the 100 metre Backstroke in Budapest at the International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Championships. He will compete in the African Youth Games scheduled to take place in Algeria later this year.
Canjulo achieved his first Bank Windhoek short and long course junior Victor Ludorms at the Namibian Nationals this year. He broke his first Namibian record in 2016 at the age of ten. He won his first open water sprint in Swakopmund late last year, allowing him to qualify for the 2018 South African Junior Championships. At the event, he won one gold and four silver medals while breaking four Namibian records in the 50m Backstroke, 100m Backstroke, 200m Backstroke and 400m Freestyle events.
Ronan Wantenaar taught himself how to swim at an early age and later started competing at the age of ten. “I am his main taxi driver who gets up as early as 04:00 am to get him to morning training – it is a joy,” said Belinda.
Canjulo’s mother, Zenobia, recalled how it all started: “I swam on a daily basis while being an expectant mother. After his birth, he immediately started swimming at four months old. After that, he progressed to where he is now – a top swimmer,” said Beukes.
Both mothers said that the daily challenges they experience are roughly the same. They agreed that their careers during working hours demand that they multitask. At the same time, they also need to make sure that their son’s education and training schedules are met.
Another challenge they alluded to is the financial aspect. The mothers said that swimming is a financially demanding sports code. They appreciated the fact that Bank Windhoek Namibia National Swimming Championships’ sponsorship assists their sons by providing them with an opportunity to perfect their skills on a yearly basis. This event marks the highlight of the annual local swimming calendar.
Belinda and Zenobia mentioned that the challenges that they endure have made them determined to see their sons perform at the highest level.
Throughout all the challenges and the sacrificed time, Belinda and Zenobia said that they have formed unbreakable bonds with their sons. Zenobia added that her character, confidence and faith have grown stronger.
“Motherhood is the highest calling in life and being able to support the development of our children’s talent is an honour,” concluded Zenobia.
Belinda echoed Zenobia’s sentiment and said that others who can relate should not put too much pressure on their children but support them in every aspect of their lives. A mother’s love is indeed unconditional.