At present, 18 year old Michael Houlie is the most dominant young swimmer in South Africa and on Friday, the 50m breaststroke specialist began his ascent as the most dominant swimmer in the world. Not only has Michael broken the Youth Olympic Games 100m breaststroke record, but the towering swimmer also brought home the 50m breaststroke gold.
After winning all of his heats, Michael took the gold at the 50m finals with a time of 27.51 seconds, beating China’s second placed, Jiajun
Sun, who swam a time of 27.85 seconds. He is the only South African swimmer to have bagged a gold medal at the game and only the second South African swimmer ever, after Chad le Clos, to have won a gold medal at the Youth Olympics. In addition, he is thus far only one of two South African athletes to have won gold at this year’s event, the other being Amber Schlebusch in the triathlon
Last week and Sunday, he also broke the 100m Youth Olympic Games record with a time of 1:00.23. The record was previously held by Russia’s Anton Chupkov when he swam a time of 1:00.84 in 2014. Michael also holds the Youth Olympics 1st and 2nd place record for the 50m with a time of 27.51 seconds and 27.44 seconds.
In addition to his Youth Olympics records, Michael is also the record holder of the Commonwealth Youth Games 50m Breaststroke. This year alone, he once again became the SA Junior Champ in the 50m and 100m breaststroke events, and he broke South Africa’s 100m record for 18 year olds with a time of 1:01.47 minutes. The record was previously held by Cameron van der Burgh, who swam with a time of 1:01.73 minutes in 2007. Michael is also SA’s
2018 Senior 50m breaststroke champion.
To add to his list of dominance, he is also the SA record holder for boys aged 17 in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, the SA record holder for boys aged 16 in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke and the SA record holder for boys aged 15 in the 50m and 100m breaststroke.
One of his winning qualities is to never underestimate or disrespect his opponents. Going into the game, he said that his main goal was to get to the final, and once there, try to win but always be aware that “everyone has a chance of winning gold”.
Given that his dedicated mom, Colleen, is a teacher, Michael is not just about swimming. He is also about achieving academically. Not only is he preparing for his matric exams (he has a tutor that makes sure that he does his homework everyday) but he also has to prepare for the US’ SAT exam, which qualifies him for admission to a university in the US. He has already been accepted to study at the University of Tennessee in 2019. The university has one of the top college swimming teams in the US.