Erica Wangechi was five when she was pushed to start swimming. In fact, she never Iiked it. She was not a fan of pools of water and swimming was not her thing. It was at the doctor’s recommendation that she had to swim. Because of her asthmatic condition, the doctor had advised that regular swimming would help stabilize her condition. Her parents, therefore, kept pushing her to do it for her own health. Little did she know that what came as part of a medical prescription would turn into a blessing and bring her fame and a lot of joy.
Today, the Makini Primary School pupil is among the best swimmers not only in Kenya but also in the region. Erica, 13, has done so well in swimming that she has inspired so many of her schoolmates to join the sport. “Besides improving my health condition, I can confidently say that I have found joy in swimming. Nowadays, I enjoy it more than before, something that I hated in the beginning,” she told us in an interview. “When I finish my primary education, I hope to join an international school for my higher education because it will help me get more time for swimming”, she says.
Wangechi won her first medal at age of eight when she was in class three. Through hard work and her determination to do better, she has won over 200 medals and several trophies in different competitions both locally and internationally.
In 2016, she was part of Team Kenya, which travelled to Dubai for the Olympic qualifiers. Being her first international sporting assignment,·she didn’t do well. But that did not stop her determination to practice to become better. Perhaps it’s what she learnt from the Dubai competition that helped her perform better in Malawi last year during the African Swimming Federation championships, (CANA), where she was named the 7th overall winner in the under 12 breast stroke style category. Also at the event which had swimmers from 15 countries in Africa, Erica was announced the best 200 meters breaststroke swimmer.
Because she has to balance the sport and studies, Erica normally wakes up 4 am in the morning, prepares herself before leaving for school at 4.30am, where she has early morning training’s starting from 5:00 am to 6:00am. She hopes to be a role model for upcoming swimmers. “If you want to join this sport, be informed that the earlier you start the better,” she advises. “The more you do it, the better you become because practice makes perfect. A part from keeping me fit, swimming has helped me build my confidence,” she adds. She is, however, quick to add that swimming requires constant practice.