At age 23 and making his first-ever appearance at the Olympic Games, Namibia’s marathon swimmer Phillip Seidler is gunning to rewrite history books by becoming the first bather to win a medal for the country in the swimming discipline.
Seidler, who qualified for the ongoing Tokyo Olympics at the International Swimming Federation Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifiers in Setuba, Portugal, will today (11h30 PM Namibian time) hit the waters in the men’s 10km Open Water race around the renowned Odaiba Marine Park.
He will be one of 26 swimmers who will compete for top honours.
Speaking to this publication ahead of today’s race, Seidler expressed great satisfaction with how his training regime has been going.
“I have been doing training twice a day – in the morning and then in the evening. The facilities here are amazing; usually, I train in a 25m pool back at home in Swakopmund – but here, I’m training in a massive 50m pool and it has been quite an experience for me,” he noted.
“My morning training starts at like 06h00 in the morning and it is important that I start my morning training that early, because my actual race here at the Olympics will start at 6h30 Thursday morning, which is 11h30 PM on Wednesday in Namibia, so it’s important that my body adapts to the conditions and water temperature,” said the 2021 South African Open Water Swimming Olympic Trials bronze medallists.
With Namibia making her eighth appearance at the Summer Olympics, Seidler is determined to change the narrative by going one step further and hopefully bag Namibia’s first-ever Olympic medal in the swimming discipline.
Until Seidler’s recent qualification to the Tokyo Olympics, retired short distance swimmers Jörg Lindemeier (1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics) and Monica Dahl (1992, 1996 Olympics) remained the country’s only two Olympians in that discipline, but none of them had ever won a medal at the Olympics.
The young swimmer, who also represented Namibia at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, will face stiff competition from two former champions Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia and Ferry Weertman of Netherlands, who will be seeking to retain the crown he claimed at Copacabana Beach in Brazil five years ago during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Mellouli became the first African male swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal in an individual event when he won the 1 500m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
In Tokyo, he is competing in his sixth Olympic Games and also remains the only swimmer to have ever won Olympic medals in pool and open water competitions in a single Olympics event – the 2012 London Games.