Published By: Elena Grace Flores
I am Sweania Betzeba Delisa and this is my story: I am 15 years old Indonesian athlete, from Kerobokan, Bali in Indonesia. I love swimming ever since I was 2 years old. We have a simple family life but unfortunately, my parents divorced when I fell in love with swimming. I’m currently living with my dad and sister. My dad is a musician and I was always by his side wherever he went. I was lucky to be able to go to school at 3 years of age – despite the hardships that we’ve been through because father became the music teacher in the children’s school where I got enrolled in. This is where he met my step mom, mama Asih. I got the privilege to continue my schooling for free because they were both teachers in the my school.
Mama Asih mom was very supportive for my swimming quest and I really wanted to become an athlete since I was 7 years old. I knew it was impossible because my parents cannot afford the expenses for the training but with my step mom’s help and my cousin Billy’s efforts in coaching me since that time, I became a child athlete at 9 years of age. This is when trainers named Rizal and Andy discovered my potential. They invited me to join their swimming club and I practiced with them together with other members – who became my good friends. I really got a lot of help from them.
It was embarrassing not having much like when I lost my new goggles from the giant waves! I cried a lot thinking that I could never buy another one. To my surprise, my friend Mega, generously bought me even better swimming goggles in time for my very first national swimming competition! I did not know how I went through that since transportation expenses was a problem. However, another friend Yuka paid for the fare to and from Bandung plus I also got some vitamins from Ocan, another member of the swimming club and a dear friend. I gladly shared with them the bronze medal that I garnered from that competition.
After that I trained hard for the next competition, on the verge of having an injury on my knee. In 2011 at 12 years old, I got to know an International swimming club where I dreamed to belong, although for me at that time – it was an impossible dream because of being poor. My mom however supported my ambitions in any way she could. She managed to talk to the club’s swimming coach Andy Wibowo and negotiated an affordable deal for my membership fee. Right after my stint there, I went to Jatayu and joined Bali Aqua Stars Team where I also met friends who are nice enough to support my quest. Noa gave me a new swimming cap and Eva gave a pair of cap and swim glasses. It was a privilege being able to practice with them.
It was always observed that I normally experience a relapse of my past injury in the middle of my workouts. My friend Indah advised me to go through an acupuncture treatment – that me and her brother can get free treatment from a Korean doctor. Mama Asih was worried upon seeing my pain so she went out of her way for me to consult a specialist. That doctor really cured me – although his prescriptions were mainly vitamins. After all, it was just because of lack of vitamins. Upon knowing about it, donations from Bali Aqua Stars team poured in like the lot from Peter’s family. Coach Andy gave me a Herbalife milk . With those blessings, I continued training hard and no more injuries I could remember.
My swimming performance progresses from one medal to another until I have to compete outside of Bali on board a truck because obviously, we can’t afford air fares! This happened repeatedly but I really did not mind – and the time has come to bring honour to Indonesia by competing in the International arena. Of course, I cannot get to another country without boarding a plane. Just when my swimming career took off, one of the saddest event in my life happened. Mama Asih suddenly died because of heart attack. Mama Asih had been very supportive to me and I can’t be who am I now without her help. She loved me very much and she did worked very hard to get me through my swimming competitions. Even after her teaching retirement, she did a small buying and selling business just to pay my financial needs. She would even sell her personal stuff just for a ticket to a swimming pool! was able to practice swimming everyday because of her sacrifice.
No matter how difficult it was to lose my greatest supporter, I still want to continue to chase my dreams on a higher lever. This will be my tribute to Mama Asih for being there for me from the start of my career to the national and international competitions that I was able to participate in. I did not know how hard it was for her to accompany me to my workouts with her illness – but I will not put her determination into waste. I know, that she is still with us in spirit as I continue living life to the fullest with my father and sister. I kind of remember the times when I did not have a mom around – and it seems like it’s happening again but Mama Asih’s example will always be in my heart and thoughts. Live without her is really unimaginable. Soon after Mama Asih’s demise, my grandfather who is always keeping me updated with swimming competitions happening here and overseas also died. This was another painful event in my life but despite of that, I struggled to make him and Mama Asih my inspirations because they are my heroes! It is enough for me thinking that they are happy for me – wherever they are now.
I’d like to believe that after all those sad moments, it’s now time for happiness to come. Nadi, a Yoga and Surfing Coach spotted me while I was singing with my father in a hotel. He complimented my voice and he invited me to his yoga and surfing classes. He then found out about my swimming prowess and was interested to support me through these physically challenged workouts in time for the British International Swimming Competition in Jakarta. It was a real struggle for my father to get an affordable airfare and commuting for 2 hours from the place of my cousin Vika in Jakarta where we stayed during the competition. The sacrifices were not in vain because I went home with 3 Gold medals and 1 Bronze. I could even get 2 more medals if not because of the unfavorable weather condition.
Getting back to Bali, I had to go back to Junior High School (SMPN 2 KUTA) but they were not too supportive with my competing nature – and since the tuition fee increased, we can’t afford to clear my school balance anymore – thus prompted me to not get my report card. I thought that International schools would be more supportive with my goals but I have no choice because of our financial status. So, I continued studying in Indonesian schools. I trained again with the help of my coach for the recent Bali International Triathlon. Christine helped me this time and she got me a sponsor in the person of SOLEMEN. I am SOLEMEN and to Joni Wong who donated the appropriate Triathlon bike. These equipped me to win 5 Gold medals and 1 Bronze from the championship in the JIS International Competition.
I got the chance of a lifetime when Serenity Team sponsored my trip to the Philippines to compete in the Ocean Adventures Aquathlon in Subic, Olongapo City. Actually I wanted to follow the half ironman (1,9km swim+90km bike+21km run), but I was too young for it. Although I was first in swimming, I got the overall 5th place because I was only the 5th placer for running. I was confident that I can beat the best time in running with more practice. Next plan after the Philippines if circumstances favor it, I would like to compete in Sydney, Australia where a relative also is staying. For now, I am still hoping for some sponsors to help me in this goal! Hopefully, I would never run out of sponsors from Sea Games to the Olympic Games in 2015!
Written By: Sheania Betzeba