SPORTS

‘Swimming Part Of Our Family’

"If I don’t make the Tokyo Olympics I’ll be okay, because I know I tried and it doesn’t define me"- Cheyenne Rova
10 Jan 2021 14:16
‘Swimming Part Of Our Family’
Barracuda Swimming Club coach, Rosemary Rova is flanked by her daughters Cheyenne (left) and Rosemarie after they won their respective events at the National Aquatic Centre on November 16,2020. Photo: Leon Lord

Cheyenne Victoria Rosimere Rova is no stranger in swimming.

Her family involvement in the sport is well documented and she hopes to continue the legacy.

Her father, Ben Rova is Fiji Swimming’s president while her mother Rosemary is her coach.

The 25-year-old is originally from Pagai, Taveuni, Cakaudrove and shares maternal links to Levuka, Ovalau, Lomaiviti.

She grew up in Nadi.

“I was raised in a Christian family. God has been the source of my strength and I give Him back all the praise for everything that I’ve been able to do and achieve thus far.

“Swimming is a huge part of my family. Each one of us has been and still part of the swimming community in Fiji.

“My oldest brother swam when he was young, he doesn’t anymore but still is always at the pool cheering us on.

“My dad is Fiji Swimming president, my mother is my coach, my sister Adele works for the Let’s Swim Fiji programme where she goes out and does swim outreach programmes.

“Rosemarie and the twins still participate in swimming and we’re all on the same team, swimming under Mum.

“I first started swimming in first grade as part of the school curriculum. It’s something I really enjoyed doing so I kept at it.

Olympic Dream

“I didn’t start thinking anything of it until I made my first Pacific School Games in 2005. That competition made me think about how much I loved the sport, loved competing and racing and traveling with a big group of friends to represent our country.”

And the former Nadi Muslim College student is keeping her dream alive to represent Fiji at the Tokyo Olympics in July.

But she has a much bigger plan if she does not make it, as well as her future plans after swimming.

“I hope to make the Olympics and I’m putting in all the effort,” she said.

“If I don’t make it, I’ll be okay, because I know I tried and it doesn’t define me.

“After swimming, my dream is to one day own and open a High Performance Unit for Athletes/Sport Teams based out here in the west.”

She will continue to do what she loves and will contribute to the sport in any way possible.

“I honestly don’t know when I will be done with the sport.”

Not Easy

And being one of the top swimmers in Fiji, the journey was not always an easy one, where Rova has to balance her academic work with training.

“I started at Iowa Lakes Community College for two years where I attained an Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree before transferring to Minnesota State University, Mankato where I attained my Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science.

“I spent a total of four years there to also complete and attain my Master of Arts Degree in Sport Management.

“As a professional swimmer one of the major challenges I faced was balancing my athletic, academic and social life.

“But I knew my goals in each area of my life and with God (faith), time management and the right/best support team (family and close friends, physios, psychologist to name a few) I was able to achieve my goals and I’m still working toward current goals and it’s been a major challenge balancing working a 7am-4pm job and training but when you set your mind to something anything is possible.

Rova is now a Physical and Health education teacher at International School Nadi.

Power to Change

She indicated that sport has changed her life and perspectives of certain things.

“Sports has the power to change lives, to change mindsets. And if I can help at least change one life through my story it’d all be worth it.

“I want other girls/women out there know that they too can do anything they want if they set their minds and attitudes to it regardless of age, that’s just a number.”

Her first local swim club was Mako Swim Club. This club was formed and consisted of the western based athletes that were to travel to the Pacific School Games in 2005.

In 2006, she joined her siblings in Nadi Barracuda Swim Club which where her aunt, Ana Nagatalevu coached back then. Her mother Rosemary Rova is the head coach of the club now.

“It’s not easy being coached by your mother, because it’s your mother you know. It’s probably just as hard as it is for me as is for her.

“But I think with open communication and understanding and patience and us knowing each other so well it works. When we get out of the car at the pool, she’s the coach and I’m the athlete.

“When we get back in the car, I’m the daughter and she’s the mother. I have my sister as a training partner too, she’s always helped pushed me too and I think we all kind of balance each other out.”

“Definitely keen to support and see some of these young women represent Fiji at the next Pacific Games. That’s the goal and they’re prepping towards it already. Younger girls are coming up quick, dropping times and that’s positive for Fiji Swimming.

“I think Fiji Swimming, right now, speaking from experience and being in the sport for a while now, has a great leadership team.

“If I could change one thing, right now, it’d be to challenge my swim mates that have left the sport to find their passion for it and hopefully make a comeback.”

Highlights

“I’ve represented Fiji at various meets. Pacific Games, Oceania Championships, World Long Course and Short Course Championships, Commonwealth Youth Games, Commonwealth Games. I’ve won individual medals at both Oceania and Pacific Games.

“Each competition is different. And there are highlights at every competition, but there are 2 that stand out in my career, one being my first individual gold medal at the Pacific Games in PNG 2015 and the second being a relay gold in the 4×100 Freestyle in Samoa 2019 where I got to swim and share that experience with my younger sister.”

Advice

“I would encourage them to work hard toward whatever goal it is they have, be patient with themselves, have the right attitude in every situation and have balance.

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: sereana.salalo@fijisun.com.fj


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