Ethan flies flag high at Youth Olympics

Ethan with his mom Melanie du Preez and headmaster, Paul Besener.

Table View swimming sensation Ethan du Preez placed in the top 20 at the Youth Olympic Games held in Argentina last month.

Ethan, 15, came 13th in the men’s 200m butterfly and placed sixth in the men’s 200m butterfly heat. He earned $250, about R4 000, part of which was spent on a ferry trip to Montevideo in Uruguay.

The rest stays in the bank, says the Grade 9 Milnerton High School pupil.

Ethan has been swimming since the age of 2, and his mother, Melanie du Preez, calls him a “water baby” who used to swim laps around other children. He was swimming in galas by the time he was 7 and winning medals by the age of 9. Now he has so many his mother has started hanging them on the curtain rails at home.

On average, Ethan trains four hours a day, six days a week to keep his body in top shape.

He also does hypoxic training – a specific training to swim with fewer breaths.

Milnerton High’s headmaster, Paul Besener, said Ethan had the school’s full support.

“We are very proud of Ethan. The butterfly is traditionally the most difficult stroke,” he said.

The school is having its swimming pool covered, so Ethan and the rest of the Milnerton High swim team will be able to swim all year round.

Ethan’s father, Mauritz du Preez said: “Seeing your son stand on the starting block at the Olympics is any father’s proudest moment of his life. The feeling is indescribable.”

Ethan, who is now training to qualify for the World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest next year, says Michael Phelps is his favourite professional swimmer. The retired American swimmer is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals.

“He was the first athlete I saw swimming on TV. I admire him,” said Ethan.