Dubber's bronze bodes well for Paralympics hopes

  • 28/09/2010

By Annabel Reid

Powering down the pool with a navy blue cap and goggles on her head, her strokes look effortless.

When she reaches the end she lifts herself up onto the side and takes a well-deserved sip from a water bottle.

It’s back to training at the Millenium Institute of Sport and Health on Auckland’s North Shore for petite 17-year-old Rebecca Dubber which is a far cry from where she’s just returned from.

The Carmel College student, who has a spinal deformity, is home from Eindhoven, Holland where she won bronze in backstroke at the IPC Swimming World Championships for disabled athletes.

Following the race of her life, Dubber recalls looking up to the scoreboard and not knowing where she was placed.

“When I finished, my vision was a bit blurry and the scoreboard was right at the other end of the pool,” she says with a grin.

“There was a bit of confusion and then it finally hit that I'd come third and I just got really excited.”

Racing against competitors from the United States and Germany in a foreign country didn't faze Dubber.

“I don't think I was as nervous for it [the final] as I thought I would've been because I had a really good heat so I guess that boosted my confidence a bit.”

That heat saw Dubber finish first with a personal best time – only to beat it again in the final.

Back home on Auckland's North Shore her parents and younger sister watched the races play out over the internet.

“We watched the heat at about 7.30 in the evening and she'd swum an amazing time so we figured out when she'd be in the final and got up about 3.30 in the morning to watch that,” Dubber's mother Sue recalls.

“In the final we saw her touch in fourth but then her name started to be announced and she ended up in third which was fantastic.”

The bronze medal came in the 100m backstroke – which her coach Gary Francis explains, hasn't been her number one stroke.

“Before she went [to the world championships] we talked a little bit because Rebecca has been concentrating primarily on freestyle for at least the last year and a half.

“I felt the backstroke was something I could do a little bit with and we could get a lot of reward out of it,” he says.

Dubber's return to reality means preparing for year 12 mock exams.

“School has been quite demanding over the last couple of weeks. I came back and had forgotten so much.”

School is something that's often put on the backburner with the busy schedule her swimming demands.

“Twice a week I only do two and a half periods then I'm out for the rest of the day with swimming and gym.

“Basically my whole life is planned around my training and competing,” she says.

Carmel College principal Kath Deady calls Dubber's latest achievement “stupendous”.

“It's a tribute to her determination and the hours she puts in. She's a superb role model.

“It's a huge achievement and she's so modest. She's just a really ordinary kid who does extraordinarily well,” the proud principal says.

There's always something more for Dubber to be preparing for and now it's the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Vancouver next year, but it's not the only thing on her mind.

Is she hoping to be competing in London in 2012?

“Definitely,” she replies with a grin and a glint in her eye that says she's got big goals and every possibility of achieving them.

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