Face To Face With Savannah Stead

Our first interviewee from the City of Kings, a senior at Girls College, Savannah Stead talks to us about her high school sporting career. Savannah tells SSN about her upbringing and where her love of water comes from. A Zimbabwe representative since 2009, Savannah also talks about her travels in national colours, before letting us know her opinions on discipline as well as Zimbabwe’s performance in East London.

SSN: Tell us more about the water-loving Savannah Stead?
Savannah: I am a Bulawayo girl, born and bred! I am a 2014 Prefect at Girls College. I have a younger brother, Mitchell (14) who is also an up and coming water-polo player and I know he shares my passion for the sport. My mom and dad own safari lodges in Matopos and Hwange so I have spent many days, when not training, out in the bush. I have represented Zimbabwe in swimming four times and in water-polo since 2009, as well as played three test matches against the Springboks.
SSN: Is your love for water linked to your upbringing in any way?
Savannah: My dad was a good swimmer in his youth and I guess that has inspired me to take up swimming as my main sport and later on water-polo.

Savannah Swimming
Savannah with her first love – water

SSN: You have had a successful high school career with sport, representing Zimbabwe across the globe. Of your travels which one would you say has been the most memorable?
Savannah: The Perth, Australia Junior World Championships tournament was the most memorable of my water-polo career so far. It exposed me to world class water-polo standards and taught me to become a lot more tolerant and tough in the water. Also, because I scored a goal against Greece, who went forward and won the tournament. Before I left for Perth, my silent goal was to score, at least one goal in the Championships, and I did this against the world champs – that felt really good.
SSN: You are the current national record holder for U14 100M Breaststroke. Can you describe that 2009 race?
Savannah: Phew, its over four years ago now, but I can remember my adrenaline was running very high as competition was tough and so breaking and setting the new record was not expected. However, knowing that breaststroke is my strongest stroke, I knew I was in with a chance. My coach had prepped me for this, we’d done some serious training, so it was all worth it.
SSN: What has been your biggest driver going through high school? (where does your motivation come from?)
Savannah: My parents are great believers in attaining one’s highest standards and self respect which makes them my main motivators to do well.
SSN: What role does you family play in your involvement with sport?
Savannah: My parents certainly play a huge role in my involvement in sport – they have enabled me to go on countless tours including RSA, Zambia, Kenya and Australia, setting the platform for me to gain experience which is priceless in the world of sport. Their presence at all my games and tournaments has also created an inspiration to play my best.
SSN: You were part of the water-polo squad that did well in East London a few days back. What went wrong in that semi-final?
Savannah: It was a very tense game; we’d won all our games including beating Western Province which we haven’t done in five years. However, I believe the pivotal point was when we missed a penalty in the last chukka which would have given us a three-goal lead. In the last two minutes of the game, I think our loss of concentration and focus led to the downfall of the team and they scored two very good goals against us and we were beaten at the end.
SSN: In your opinion who was the most outstanding player in East London.
Savannah: That’s a tough call as I would like to honour at least two players; Sinead Cockcroft and Joey Beare. However, if I have to choose one, then I would say Joey Beare deserves it, as she was the most consistent player for Zimbabwe throughout the tournament.
SSN: You are heading into your final year at Girls College. Any goals for 2014?
Savannah: Being a prefect and in one’s final year, I feel we have a big part to play in terms of being good “role models” to the juniors of the school. It’s what we aspire for throughout one’s school career. I hope I am a good role model to the girls of my school and that my integrity and honour on the sportsfield is something others will look up to and remember me for. Some of my goals for 2014 are also to attain good ‘A’ Level results and to continue to play water-polo for Zimbabwe.

Savannah Stead laughing
Joy was in the air in Perth, Australia

SSN: And long term goals?
Savannah: Definitely to go to University in RSA to study marketing. I want to create a successful future for myself and I believe having a degree will help me along that path. And then to take my water-polo to the next level (whatever that level will be)
SSN: Who are your sporting role models?
Savannah: Kirsty Coventry
SSN: What’s your take on discipline in the development of future sporting icons?
Savannah: I feel very strongly, that sporting icons are who most of us would like to mould our lives and image on, so discipline in both the sports arena and socially is key. May the present drive to keep sport clean and free of doping continue, and the standards of good sportsmanship increase.
SSN: Any words you live by?
Savannah: “The more you bleed in practice, the less you bleed in battle” – that’s what I’ve always told myself and what motivates me to train hard and work hard.