After the fire... Olympian Roux is back in the water | SASCOC - SASCOC

After the fire… Olympian Roux is back in the water

By Mark Etheridge

London Olympian Jessica Roux may have celebrated her 20th birthday last week but any happy birthday feelings went up in smoke a day later.

The young swimmer had spent some time in Port Elizabeth before heading back to Durban and shortly before boarding her flight back to KwaZulu-Natal her parents called with some bad news.

“Once they had left the airport they got a call informing them that our holiday house in St Francis had burnt down. They phoned to let me know just before I boarded the plane.

“I was obviously shattered and sobbed on the plane all the way back to Durban. We’ve been going to St Francis for the past 10 years I’d say. We owned a house closer to the beach, and then five years ago we sold and bought our current one which has now fallen victim to those vicious fires that burnt the beautiful St Francis Bay.

“It was very sad for my family and I, because we have had so many good times in that house, and it was our planned holiday destination for December/January at the end of the year. It was perfect for me as well, as I don’t lose too much fitness while on holiday as I run along the beach, waterski, and of course do a few laps in those majestic canals either early in the morning, or at sunset. I didn’t lose anything personal but my mom, who is a very good painter, lost seven of her paintings which was very sad.”

In the aftermath of the fire though, Roux still has a burning ambition to atone for her London experience where she failed to finish the women’s 10-kilometre open water swim at Hyde Park.

“After Olympics, one can probably imagine how upset I was. I was very discouraged and demotivated, and couldn’t really bring myself to get back into the water. But that’s now behind me and I am back training as usual.

“It’s not easy and very difficult to get back into some sort of routine, especially after something like Olympics, but it all seems to be heading in the right direction now.

“Also a huge decision I have made is to move back to my home town of Port Elizabeth and to train from there, purely to be closer to my family. Swimming is such a tough and often lonely sport and I believe that the support of your family is so vital and important at this level of competition, so I am looking forward to training from home, even though I will miss Seagulls and my training partners a great deal. I’m going back to PE on 17 December after KZN Championships and I’ll be training under Brian Elliot and Kevin Richards and also with Kevin Paul [Paralympic silver medallist in 2012].

“I’ve already got one 10km race under the belt for the season, just to break the ice, and to get a rough idea of where I am and what needs work. Right now I am just focusing on getting my training up to the standard I and my coaches believe it should be and then┬á I’ll start to look at other major events to take part in.”