Stacey Simelanang Expands her Horizons with Aquatics

In+her+element%2C+Stacey+Simelanang+swims+backstroke+during+her+practice+with+the+UM+swim+team.+

Courtesy of Stacey Simelanang

In her element, Stacey Simelanang swims backstroke during her practice with the UM swim team.

Driven by her passion, sophomore Stacey Simelanang finds true enjoyment in the art of swimming. Practicing three times a week, Simelanang remains active with both the University of Miami’s swim club as well as Coral Gables Senior High’s swim team.

At just nine years old, Simelanang commenced her journey to aquatics with little to no experience. Adjusting to life underwater, her parents were introduced to the UM stroke school, an extracurricular swimming program for anyone over three years old. Given the choice, Simelanang was convinced to try a new sport while taking her parent’s advice.

“The people who pushed me to join the swim team were my parents. It’s not like I didn’t want to do it, but they’re the reason I joined and they’re the ones who have supported me from the start,” sophomore Stacey Simelanang said. 

Offering a variety of programs, the stroke school at UM teaches students the fundamental movements of swimming including freestyle and backstroke. Slowly but surely, participants can reach higher levels of rigor, depending on their stamina, in addition to withstanding difficult strokes. As required by each instructor, Simelanang was able to complete all the requirements listed on the UM website and move up groups with time. 

Stacey Simelanang puts on a determined look, as she waits for her turn at the UM training facility. (C0urtesy of Stacey Simelanang)

At 13 years old, Simelanang was granted the opportunity to advance with the UM junior swim club, a decision she does not regret. Joining the white group, one of the categories for advanced swimmers, this athlete’s weekly schedule entails a minimum of three practices and two meets each semester.  

“I love [the swim club] and it will always stick with me. Swimming is just a really huge part of my life and UM has really helped me get further with my swimming,” sophomore Stacey Simelanang said.

Already a profound swimmer, Simelanang’s experience with high-level competition allowed her to join Gables’ swim team her freshman year. Unsure of what to expect, this Cavalier immediately felt comforted by her new teammates as well as the upperclassmen.

Looking forward to multiple events, Simelanang currently participates in 200m backstroke, freestyle and the  individual medley races.

I can confidently say that when she wants something, she does not stop until she gets it. I feel like it’s that determination and mindset that have helped her get so far and go even farther,”

— sophomore Claudia Travieso

“I was able to feel more at ease during my first few days of school. It was pretty nerve wrecking to be in a completely new environment. The other swimmers aren’t mean about how fast you are and they even encourage you,” sophomore Stacey Simelanang said.

Tackling her responsibilities with maturity, Simelanang never diminishes how grateful she is for mentors that guided her every step of the way. Recalling her years at UM, Simelanang praises her coaches for their uplifting spirit and preparation for any challenges in the road ahead.

“Swimming really expands my horizons because I met so many new people that I wouldn’t have known. All the coaches just supported me even if I didn’t do the best in one of the races,” sophomore Stacey Simelanang said.

Years of repeated training, diligence and hard-work, Simelanang will continue to improve her skillsets while creating new friendships at Gables. For now, Simelanang aspires to balance her duties with the UM swim club and the Cavalier swim team, while diving deeper into the 2022-2023 school year.