Minke cleans again in the pool


18-year-old Minke Janse van Rensburg, South Africa’s down syndrome swimming sensation from George in the Western Cape, made many hearts swell with pride last week when she won one medal after another at the Down Syndrome European Championships in Italy threaded in.

The fearless and purposeful swimmer, who was named Disabled Sportswoman of the Year at the national department of sport, art and culture’s SA Sports Awards event in March, has broken numerous records and is making a name for herself on the local and international stage.

This year, Minke won eight medals at the Down Syndrome European Championship – which took place from 3 to 10 September in Padova, Italy. She represented South Africa against 21 other countries and against 511 participants overall.

Hennie Janse van Rensburg, Minke’s father and most loyal supporter, says they are incredibly excited and proud of Minke’s achievements.

“Minke currently holds the 50 m and 100 m world record for freestyle in a 50 m pool and won a gold medal in both events – and won by a long way,” said this pleased father.

Minke also brought home four silver medals, as well as one bronze.

“We are incredibly proud. We are as proud as one can be and we are really grateful that Minke got this talent. It is wonderful for me that my child has a talent in which she could find herself and which is good for her self-esteem and values,” says Janse van Rensburg.

“Minke is a sportswoman of stature; one who always gives her best. We are happy that she has already proven her potential on so many levels, especially because down syndrome athletes are a bit neglected in South Africa.”

According to Janse van Rensburg, Minke trains daily and on Tuesdays and Thursdays she spends an average of three and a half hours in the water.

“She is super fit and almost unstoppable once she is in the water. Spain’s national down syndrome swimming coach even offered Minke to train with them for free until the World Championships.

“But we decided against it. Minke is coming back to George, we are very happy with her coach, Franna Vorster at the Garden Route Swim School. Some of our family members say we should have considered it because the exposure will mean a lot to her, but she has already come first, which means that she is in the right hands,” says Janse van Rensburg.

“Minke took on this championship by herself, without her most loyal supporters,” says Janse van Rensburg. “According to the people who looked after her, she really enjoyed it.

“It was the first international event in 10 years in which she participated and just look how proud she made us.”

The next big event ahead for Minke is the World Championship which kicks off on March 17, 2024 in Turkey.

“We are really looking forward to the World Championship, we have been waiting for it for a long time. However, there is still a long way to go and many swimming sessions ahead, but we now know what Minke has to work on in order to bring home many more medals,” says Janse van Rensburg.