Making a Splash on the World Stage – Albright College

Making a Splash on the World Stage

By Stephen Thomas ’14

Amantle Mogara '21

It started like it did for most kids, Amantle (A-Mon-cle) Mogara ’21 took to the water as a child just for fun. Her first memories of swimming were at a local hotel pool in her native Gaborone, Botswana. A landlocked country in southern Africa, Botswana is better known for soccer, and sports like cricket, rugby and track and field. In fact, the country’s first Olympian swimmers only took to the pool in the 2016 Rio games.

But by grade school, Mogara’s early love of the water had led to competitive club swimming. Today, she competes in the United States for the Albright College team — and nationally, representing Botswana. In December, she represented her country at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Hangzhou, China.

A co-major in business administration and French, Mogara always knew that she wanted to come to the United States for her college education. Interested in working for a nonprofit after graduation, she would one day like to own a diamond manufacturing business — one of the top industries and main export of Botswana.

In the meantime, she’s making a splash, travelling the world. And of course, competing on the world’s stage requires determination, as well as physical and mental training.

Mogara credits her Albright teammates and coaches with helping her prepare, both in and out of the water — encouraging her to visualize successful races to build a positive outlook. In addition, Mogara’s professors adjusted her testing schedule so that she could participate in the World Championships over finals week.

Though she was physically and mentally prepared for the World Championships, a three-day flight delay meant that Mogara arrived in China just one day before the start of the meet. The delay left her scant time to adjust to the 13-hour time difference and without pool training access.

Mogara arrived in China just one day before the start of the meet. The delay left her scant time to adjust to the 13-hour time difference and without pool training access.

On the first day, Morgara looked around to see some of the world’s best athletes all around her, such as Olympic medalists and record holders Caeleb Dressel and Kelsi Dahlia representing the United States, South Africa’s Chad le Clos and Jamaican swimmer Alia Atkinson.

“It was very intimidating at first. I felt like I did not belong with all of these very strong, tall and much more experienced and talented swimmers,” said Mogara. But in watching their warmup and stretching routines, Mogara recognized how the competitors mentally prepared and “got in the zone” for races. They, too, had put in hard work to earn their spots on the starting blocks. “That gave me motivation to be the best I could be,” said Mogara.

During the week-long meet, Mogara and her two Botswana teammates were next to the team from Jamaica and were able to meet Olympian Alia Atkinson. “She was so personable to talk with and very supportive of our much smaller team from Botswana,” said Mogara.

“It was then that I realized that even though she is one of the best, that she is also human like the rest of us. So the star-struck feeling quickly left as I got to know her.”

Mogara finished 83rd out of 94 competitors in the 100 meter freestyle and 56th out of 68 swimmers in the 50 meter butterfly. She hopes the experience will help her let go of some nerves and add some speed for future competitions.

“I put the training in and at the end of the day to swim in a meet like this really opened my eyes to realize what I am capable of and learn what I need to do  in order to improve,” said Mogara. “It was an honor to represent Botswana.” Also memorable was a tour of her Chinese surroundings, for which she was joined by fellow athletes.

“The country was very modern and different than what I expected,” said Mogara. “It was very clean and the architecture of all of the buildings was impressive.” Mogara noted multiple pagodas throughout her tour, offering a mindful connection to the famous icon in Berks County.

After the meet, Mogara traveled full circle, returning to her home country and reconnecting with her family for the first time since she started classes at Albright College, a year earlier. And back on Albright’s campus this spring, she is getting ready to make a bigger splash. Look for her at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea in July.