Sunday, August 5, 2012

Swim Your Own Race

This past Friday, after I finished breaking down my chair and getting in the car, I turned on the radio, as I always do, and immediately I heard one of the most beautiful voices reading this poem. I tuned in as the author was reading the first word of the title and I listened with tears streaming down my face.

The author of the poem is, Mbali Vilakazi, a South African performer and radio producer in Cape Town. This poem pays tribute to South African swimmer Natalie du Toit, the first female amputee ever to qualify for the Olympic Games. While this poem is written for Natalie du Toit, I believe it speaks to all of us. It hasn't left my mind all weekend.

Swim Your Own Race
by Mbali Vilakazi
There is life here
Beneath the surface tension
of shattered
bones, dreams and splintered muscles
things broken
and those that may never be replaced.
Pulling the weight of it,
you do not tread the water wounded
and in retreat
By the determined strokes of fate
you swim your own race
The shoulder of your strength leaning
against the turn --
the eye that didn’t see that day,
stopping the clock on the vision of your time.
You continue to beat
into the heart of the spectacle
Manchester City, Beijing, Athens and London.
In no ordinary silence
do we watch
our own feared hopes waking
and now, breathless
in awe --
you are unforgettable.
Woman of scars, and triumph
the dance is fluid
tears of loss flowing
towards your many firsts
You are the Order of Ikhamanga
in gold.
A flower,
beautiful and unique
among the baobabs of the land
Your shape shifting
The disabled-abled body
A quest
untempered by its tests --
“if you want to get there, you go on”
You have already won
You always do
And we do too
We are the believers.
The message in its possibility:
A new freestyle,
Long distance
And in your own lane.

If you want to hear it read by Mbali Vilakazi click on the link below. I recommend listening.

Have a wonderful Sunday afternoon and "swim your own race."



  1. Love this poem! It really does speak to all of us. Thank you for sharing :)

  2. lovely, thank you for sharing. Hugs!

  3. Beautiful poem! I often think of our own path, a path we blaze through uncharted lands, and I love the idea of swimming in our own lanes. Lovely :)

  4. Thank you, Sarah! It is a beautiful poem with multiple layers and meanings and speaks to all of us.

  5. WOW - beautiful! So very thought provoking and unique to each one of us. Thanks for posting, Sarah! Have a great week!

  6. I heard the same poem on the radio! It was amazing, wasn't it? Isn't it neat, how we are all connected and touched by the same things?

  7. love this - beautiful sentiments

  8. Thank you for taking the leap of faith to share your story. You are amazing Sarah. Keep up and at 'em.

  9. Keep up with your blog. I know it will evolve....

  10. What a beautiful poem, so touching. What a blessing that you were able to listen, at just the right time. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Like a few people I got here from Kelle Hamptons blog and from reading your blog and Kelles blog it makes me see good in people and drive and people pushing forward in what their lives deliver. Everyday is a blessing and people you have around you should make you realise that time and time again... I am a South African living in London and I am glad that this poem and people who are inspirations such as Natalie du Toit and Oscar Pistorius are reaching the rest of the world.

    Also I thought I would include my ultimate favourite risotto recipe -

  12. Sarah, heard that reading also that day, Powerful, beautiful, lyrical and her voice made it come to life. We all share so much. Peace.

  13. Powerful voice and poem. Loved it. Liked the term, "the disabled-able body."


Thank you for commenting. I appreciate all of your words.