Sporting chance for seven
by Will Venn
Budding sports stars across the University have received a boost with the awarding of seven amateur sports grants, each worth $1000.
Students who have competed at a national level in sports including sailing, cycling, orienteering, surf lifesaving, basketball and swimming are among the recipients of the inaugural grants which are designed to assist in meeting the costs of competing at high level.
One of the recipients, Ernest Lourens (pictured above), moved to Australia from South Africa 10 years ago and started competitive swimming through the State Swim program.
A weekly training regime that involves five swimming sessions, three resistance-training sessions, and cycling and running cross-training has seen Lourens consistently improve his personal best swimming times in backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle.
As a national level swimmer, Lourens competes twice a year at the Australian Open National Championships in short and long course events and, in 2012, his passion and dedicated training paid off as he took part in Olympic trials.
“It was very rewarding,” Lourens says.
“I was able to watch the top athletes conduct themselves in the pool and behind the scenes; it was a very humbling experience. Swimming at a high level allows you to develop crucial life skills such as dealing and performing under pressure and stress.
“This sport has taught me how to manage my time effectively, to work hard towards a goal and to be able to pick myself up again when setbacks come my way. Swimming is an excellent sport because it can be done all year round, has relatively low injury rates and caters for endurance and sprint athletes.
“The euphoria of improving your personal best times or winning a medal is by far the most enjoyable part of the swimming experience.
“It is difficult to make a career out of swimming; it’s not a highly sponsored sport but it is a sport I really love doing. It takes at least a few years to master the techniques of swimming at this level and to develop the strength and power to be able to compete nationally.
“The grant will really help in various ways such as the travel costs to and from the 2013 Australian Championships in Sydney, the accommodation, coaching and training fees.
“Swimming is a sport which may not require much external equipment but when you consider that the cost of racing bathers is about $300, there are costs involved.”
Lourens’ skills as a competitive swimmer also compliment his studies in physiotherapy. In his first year at UniSA he achieved the Chancellor’s Academic award, being placed within the top 5 per cent of the physiotherapy cohort.
“The more I learn about physiotherapy the more I can apply its principles to swimming; for instance recovery techniques, massage, developing the ability to recognise injuries within myself and among other swimmers,” he says.
“I wouldn’t prescribe treatment but I can suggest or recommend when someone may need to see a specialist.
“I appreciate the way that the University has supported me, enabling me to continue my studies while I compete in swimming events and also through the provision of this grant.
“It indicates there is support for athletes and I would encourage others to apply for any future grants.”
Professor Roger Eston, Head of the School of Health Sciences, helped to select award recipients and outlined the value of the scholarships.
“I was delighted to be involved in the selection process for these awards,” says Prof Eston.
“The grants are awarded in recognition of the challenges of participating in elite sport and maintaining a high academic profile.
“I sincerely hope that the grants will help each of the worthy recipients towards the cost of competing and performing successfully in both their sports and academic programs.”