Well, some days you’ll never forget. December 19th 2012 was one for me. When I woke up everything became blurry, just like I was watching through a foggy window. My sight reduced so fast that in 3 months time I couldn’t read anymore.
Almost everything changed since then: lots of hospital examines, a new school, a new way to learn, many people around me, losing a lot of independence and being (temporarily) dependent on others.
Luckily one thing didn’t change: I could continue swimming, although I needed one small adjustment: I needed to get tapped.
But despite the turnaround of my life, I wasn’t done yet and got a new motto:
Don’t worry, be happy
My passion? Swimming, swimming and once more swimming
When my vision reduced fast a lot of things I liked needed to change, except the one I loved the most: I could continue swimming. Swimming had a double effect on my well-being: I was able to regain energy and sometimes through swimming I was able to get rid of all the negative energy for example from hospital results.
I started swimming with a lot of fun in Zwijndrecht at ZZ&PC De Devel and right now with the Paralympic team in Amersfoort. Since January 2019 I am training full-time in Amersfoort which means 20 hours of swimming and 10 hours of gym and dry land sessions.
The combination of school and swimming has never been a struggle for me. From 2013-2018 I’ve been on Visio Education Rotterdam (a school for visual impaired people). I had a week schedule of 3,5 days education and 2,5 days swimming in Amersfoort. In 2018 I started studying Sportmarketing at the Johan Cruyff Academy in Amsterdam, but I did quit the education to fully focus myself on the sport
My first introduction with swimming was when I was 5 years old and after finishing my B-certificate (US level 3/4) at the age of 6, I got asked my Jaap Tak to continue swimming at the club ZZ&PC De Devel, the club I still enjoy swimming my competitions.
It didn’t take long before I had my first competition in Ridderkerk, but right now I lost count…
When my sight reduces really fast in December 2012, I noticed that training and competing was getting more difficult. I started to swim into the wall, got some headaches, a hole in my head and some concussions. After contacting the Dutch Swimming Federation, they gave us the contact information of the Dutch Paralympic Swimming Team where Mark Faber (Head Coach at that time) invited me to come over to Zeist.
Once I was in Zeist they invited me every 3 weeks on Saturday morning to train with the Junior Selection led by Tineke van Bentum and Uli van Us. After the Junior Selection i became part of the Johan Cruyff Selection led by Jeanet Mulder and later on Linda Huisjes. I had my first international competition with my club in Esbjerg, Denmark, but right now I’ve been all over the planet for competitions and training camps.
Since January 2019 I’m training with the Dutch Paralympic Team at the High Performance Centre in Amersfoort led by Sander Nijhuis and later Bram Dekker.
There are 3 classes for visual impaired people:
S13: this is meant for visual impaired people
S12: this is meant for very visual impaired people
S11: this is meant for people with a severe eye disease and the blind people.
I’m classified in the S11 categorie. Everybody in the S11 needs to swim with black goggles to ensure a fair competition.