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Swimming Against the Tide

Written by: Jesse Aduma

Natalie du Toit's Journey to Gold

From Tragedy to Triumph, Exploring the remarkable journey of a multi-gold medalist swimmer conquering both Paralympic and able-bodied events. Inside the Inspiring Career of an Olympic Champion.

In competitive swimming, swimmers fight not only against the water but also against their fellow competitors as soon as they enter the pool. Competitive swimming has come to be recognized as a true test of resilience, perseverance, and endurance, a concept that perfectly describes the journey of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Natalie du Toit.

Natalie du Toit, a South African Olympic swimmer, swam her way to stardom when she won the gold medal at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games for the 100 m butterfly event.

Before that, du Toit displayed her aptitude for the sport on an international stage at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, held in Manchester, England, which offered swimming as a multi-disability event. In an 800 m freestyle competition that pitted every disabled competitor against one another, du Toit won by the point system rules, nearing the world record. 

Ironically, despite her passion for and proficiency in swimming, du Toit admits she was afraid of the water in her younger years. “I was actually petrified of swimming, and I was always the little sister that had to go and watch my brother play sports. He’s three years older than me, and I used to sit on the side of the swimming pool and watch him train…One day, I just decided that I wanted to swim, and my mum went up to the coach and asked the coach if she would mind putting me in the water and seeing if I [was] any good at it. So, I got into the water, and I guess I just kinda took to it.”

Du Toit was immediately captivated by the sport and put her all into what quickly became her passion. She soon surpassed her brother, who probably wasn’t too thrilled at the time.

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