The Pool Superintendent Who Keeps Swimmers Afloat in South Africa
The University of Pretoria's swimming team as well as the elite athletes who train at its spotless facility are fortunate to have Abel Mokoena who enables their dreams and carries them in his heart, write Karien Jonckheere and Ihsaan Haffejee for New Frame.
Every day for the past 30-odd years, Abel Mokoena, 64, has been making sure the University of Pretoria's swimming pool is in a pristine condition, ready for the elite athletes who construct their Olympic dreams there. In better-resourced countries, there would be a team of people doing the work he does, but Mokoena does it alone and loves it. "I'm the pool superintendent. I look after everything here," he explains from his tiny office situated just to the side of the pool deck.
"I also talk to the swimmers a lot. Many of them have grown up in front of me. Roland Schoeman and Cameron van der Burgh - they've all trained here. They are all my friends. I remember watching Roland winning a medal at the Olympics and I became very happy because I used to see him every day when he came to train here.
Abel Mokoena does his work alone and loves it. He is keenly aware of what it means for the athletes to train from early in the morning in suitable temperatures, especially in winter.