Swim Your Own Race Natalie du Toit By Mbali Vilakazi

Swim Your Own Race Natalie du Toit By Mbali Vilakazi

South African poet Mbali Vilakazi penned this poem about fellow countrywoman Natalie du Toit, the famed 2008 Beijing Olympian and amputee.

Although the 16th-place finisher in the Olympic marathon swim in 2008 just barely missed out qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics by the slimmest of margins, she will culminate her career at the Paralympic Games in London in a number of pool events.

There is life here

Beneath the surface tension
of shattered
bones, dreams and splintered muscles
things broken
and those that may never be replaced.

Pulling the weight of it,
you do not tread the water wounded
and in retreat

By the determined strokes of fate
you swim your own race
The shoulder of your strength leaning
against the turn —
the eye that didn’t see that day,
stopping the clock on the vision of your time.
You continue to beat
into the heart of the spectacle
Manchester City, Beijing, Athens and London.

In no ordinary silence
do we watch
our own feared hopes waking
enthralled
and now, breathless
in awe —
you are unforgettable.

Woman of scars, and triumph

the dance is fluid
unexpected
tears of loss flowing
towards your many firsts
You are the Order of Ikhamanga
in gold.
A flower,
beautiful and unique
among the baobabs of the land

Your shape shifting
The disabled-abled body
A quest
untempered by its tests —

“if you want to get there, you go on”

You have already won
You always do
And we do too

We are the believers.

The message in its possibility:

A new freestyle,
Long distance
And in your own lane.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source