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Aquatics | SA Swimming

Sabir Muhammad © Gallo Images

Muhammad happy to give back

American swimmer Sabir Muhammad is busy competing in the FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup in Durban but he has also taken the time to give something back to KwaZulu-Natal’s less fortunate areas.

The 33-year-old spent two days prior to the World Cup passing on his knowledge to youngsters in two impoverished Durban communities and he was impressed with what he saw.

“It was great. What we did is we went to two communities in the area. The first was Isipingo and the second Ntuzuma Township.

“We spoke to the kids about swimming, how great the sport is and we also encouraged them to work hard. We got them in the water and demonstrated some drills. We really just did our best to motivate them about the sport,” Muhammad told SuperSport.

“The kids were very energetic and they were extremely smart. A few of the kids were really talented and you could see their potential,” he added.

The erudite Muhammad believes that with a bit more help, some of the children that he worked with could forge swimming careers and he speaks from experience.

“I think what they need is more support from people like myself, other swimmers and the swimming federation in South Africa. I think they could achieve great things coming out of these neighbourhoods because I came out of a similar neighbourhood in the United States.”

The lanky Muhammad has built up an impressive resume in the pool. In 1994 he became the first African-American to compete for the prestigious Stanford Universities Men’s’ swimming team.

In 2000 he competed in the Short Course World Championships in Athens, Greece, were he won a silver and bronze medal. In doing so he became the first African-American to win a medal at a major international swimming competition.

In addition, he has also broken ten American National records during his career.

Muhammad may be well into his 30s, and one of the oldest competitors at the World Cup in Durban, but he does not believe age should be a factor in his performance.

“Swimming is something I plan to do for my entire life. I don’t think the sport is something that should only be viewed as something for young people under the age of 20.

“The best athletes in the world mature, and are at their best, in their mid 30s. Look at golfers, and Michael Jordan as a basketball player, so I think I am really in the prime of my career now.”

To prove his point Muhammad qualified for the men’s 50 metres butterfly final during Friday’s morning heats in Durban but, with typical modesty, he said that he was just enjoying taking part.

“I came into this event just looking to have a great time but the highlight of my trip was working with the kids, everything else is just icing on the cake,” he concluded.


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