By Larry Laursen
Young 14 year old swimmer Tristan McDonald is getting a taste of what his Scottish genes mixed with his Namibian background can produce: record performances en masse. He has proved it already this year with eight new Namibian records set between March and July. And he has just stamped his authority as Namibiaâ??s best backstroke and long distance swimmer with three new records and four medals at the Northern Tigers Swimming Championships in Pretoria.
Swimming in the 14/15 age group Tristan twice broke his own Namibian record in the 100m backstroke, eventually lowering it by almost a full second to a new time of 1:06.42 and palming a bronze in the process. His 31.61 in the 50m event brought him a second bronze medal.
Silver medal in 400m
Tall, thin and lanky is what coaches look for in backstrokers and long distance swimmers. This is the mould that fits recently retired world great, Ian Thorpe. And it is the same mould that young Tristan is developing. Shooting up vertically has been another thing he has done fast this past year. Adding muscle and endurance has now moved him off into a new swimming specialized direction: distance swimming
In the equivalent of the athletic mile, the 400m freestyle Tristan dropped his personal best time by over 10 seconds to 4:32.04 and sprinted to the silver medal position in the last 5m.
Bronze medal in 800m
Double the distance in the 800m free he proved to be just as adept. It was two years ago in November 2004 that he last attempted this gruelling event finishing then in 11:10,48.
Buoyed by his success in the 400m he started off at a steady clip that soon became an average 70 seconds per hundred leaving most of the field in his chlorinated wake. When he slammed into the touchpad at the end of the 16 lengths of the 50m pool the electronic clock was stopped at 9:26,16, a full 22 seconds below the former record of 9:48.03 held by Byron Briedenhann and less than 5 seconds away from the Namibian Open record held by Joachim von Alvensleben! And he had his third bronze medal hung around his neck.
Tristan has trained under the tutelage of Miriam Hierath at the Namibia Swimming Academy for the past year. He was the only Namibian competing in Pretoria.