Burger, the swimming sensation
By Michael Uugwanga
NAMIBIAN swimming prodigy Mikah Burger is destined for greater heights as he continues to impress everywhere he competes, and it is no surprise that he currently holds the national record he set at the Grand Prix in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in the boys’ 15-16 100m butterfly event.
The performance in Stellenbosch made Burger (16) qualify for the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Junior World Championships as he outperformed himself with a new personal best time of 58.21 seconds compared to his last best of 59.70, breaking fellow compatriot’s Lushano Lamprecht’s national record that he had set seven years ago.
FINA Junior World Championships will take place in Kazan, Russia from August 24 to 29.
Burger started training at the age of two and today he has established himself as one of the country’s top swimmers. He enjoys all water sports, trains with coach Janis Stergiadis six days a week , swims for two hours every afternoon and an additional one-hour morning session two to three times a week.
This week, Burger –currently a grade 10 scholar at Windhoek International School- sat down with Confidente Sport to talk about his journey and the secret behind his success in the sport of swimming and what the future holds for him.
“I was born in Johannesburg, in 2004 and we moved back to Namibia when I was two years old. I started with Dolphins Swimming Club in their Learn to Swim group, when I was two years old.
“I enjoy all water sports and also surf and play water polo when I have the opportunity. I also played soccer, cricket and hockey when I was younger. Due to a lack of time, I had to choose between the sports when I started swimming more competitively as swimming requires rigorous and dedicated training hours,” said Burger.
At such a young age, Burger has already set out his own swimming plans and one of those plans is one day to qualify to the Olympics and to win medals for the country at swimming events.
Currently, the country is blessed with talented swimmers such as Alexander Skinner and Phillip Seidler who will be looking at qualifying to this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in July.
The youngster is a fan of retired South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, who is also the first home-trained world record holder and individual male Olympic champion.
“I am currently working on a five-year plan and I would like to represent Namibia in as many regional and continental competitions as possible, with the focus on tracking and improving my swimming times as I move forward. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the Olympics in 2024 or 2028.
“Representing your country at the Olympic Games is such an honour and I believe that hard work, determination and perseverance will pay off in the long run. I recently had the privilege to be part of a motivational Zoom meeting with Cameron (Van Der Burgh). He is my idol because despite his phenomenal achievements, he is a sincere, humble and down to earth guy with great sportsmanship qualities,” said Burger.