At his first national swimming competition in 2015, Michael Houlie broke the national 50m breaststroke record for boys aged 14 and qualified for the Senior Nationals. Fast forward to the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, and the 17 year old Michael once again proved himself by medaling in all of his competitions. He won two golds in the 100m and 50m breaststrokes, and one silver in the 200m breaststroke.
Born and raised in Cape Town, a 7 year old Michael was already breaking school and regional Breaststroke records. His parents however, decided that Michael had to first enjoy being a kid and explore many other activities. In the process of enjoying his youth, he played rugby and soccer, became a very competent violin player, excelled in school, and became a champion water polo player. His parents explained to him that they did not want to pressure him into anything and wanted him to choose what he would become in life. He is very grateful that they allowed him to choose his own path.
It was only last year, at the age of 15, that he quit all other sports and dedicated himself to professional swimming. He says that because of his late entry into professional swimming, he is still lacking in many of the technical aspects and will have to work very hard to make up for lost time. However, given his late entry, his rise to the top has been remarkable and marked by record breaking performances.
At the 2015 African Junior Swimming Championships held in Egypt, Micheal won and broke the championships records in 50m, 100m and 200m breaststrokes.
It the 2016 South African Swimming Grand Prix, he won one gold in the 50m breaststroke, one silver in the 100m breaststroke, and 3 bronze in the 50m and 100m breaststrokes. It should be noted that where he won bronze, the then 15 year old Michael lost out on the gold against Olympians, 27 year old Cameron van der Burg and 19 year old Jarred Crous. Where he won silver, he lost out on the gold to 22 year old Ayrton Sweeney.
At the 2016, XII CANA African Swimming Championships he won 2 silvers in 50m and 100m breaststrokes. It should be noted once again that the then 16 year old Michael lost out on the gold to Cameron van der Burgh and 20 year old Alaric Basson.
At the 2016 Region 5 games, he won gold in the 100m breaststroke. He also won gold medals in each of his events at the 2016 Treviso Cup in Italy where he set New Championship Records in his age group and set the SA record in the 50m for boys aged 16.
At the 2017 SA Grand Prix Invitational Swimming Meet, he won two golds in the 50m and 200m breaststrokes, and one silver in the 100m breaststroke. Once again, the then 16 year old Michael lost out on the gold to Cameron van der Bergh by a mere 0.01 seconds.
Michael describes himself as an uncomplicated, positive guy who is always ready to help a friend in need. He is most grateful for the incredible support he receives from his parents, Sam and Colleen, and his little sister, Amy-Joy. He says that his mom makes the best food and his favourite is her crumbed chicken with home-made vetkoek.
Micheal is aware of the fact that he is a very privileged kid. He is also aware that his parents came from difficult circumstances and they had to work very hard and make enormous sacrifices to give him and his sister everything they need in life. Because of this, he hopes to someday start a project that will provide funding to kids that do not have the same opportunities that he has. He says that swimming is an expensive sport and too many talented kids cannot afford to participate in the sport.
Looking forward, Michael says that he is especially excited about being selected to compete in the FINA Junior competition in August. He describes the competition as a “big deal” because it allows him the opportunity to test his skills against the best in the world. He is also working hard to qualify for the Olympics and his long term goal is to participate in at least 3 Olympic events before retiring from swimming. If Michael Houlie is anything to go by, team South Africa’s swimmers stands a good chance of dominating at the next Olympics in 2020.
Source(s): heslopsports, other