Tue Sep 26 16:28:04 SAST 2017

Princess Charlene- ready to be a mom

2013-05-05 15:34:31.0 | DAVID ISAACSON |

MONACO'S Princess Charlene says she is looking forward to having children once her foundation is up and running.

BROODY: Princess Charlene gives top swimmer Khwezi Duma (11), one of the 2016 Olympian hopefuls, a few tips at the Lahee Park swimming pool in Pinetown that the princess has pledged to upgrade into an acquatic centre. Picture by Jackie Clausen

The former South African swimmer was in Durban this week on business for her Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, as well as to perform matron-of-honour duties at her best friend's wedding yesterday.

The foundation is sponsoring an upgrade of the municipal Lahee Park swimming pool in Pinetown, her old training base and now home to Olympic champion Chad le Clos.

In an interview, the princess said children had not been on the radar immediately after her marriage to Prince Albert in 2011.

"I think I needed a bit of time to settle in and adjust. I don't put any pressure on myself. It'll happen. If it happens, it happens," she says.

But the 35-year-old princess stressed she was looking forward to becoming a mother.

"I wanted to get my foundation launched. I wanted to get the next couple of months sorted out and I can really take a rest. We had a big wedding. It was a big adjustment after that. Now I'm settled and I think kids will come."

A large focus for her foundation is a "learn to swim" programme, and one of the faces of that campaign will be 11-year-old star swimmer Khwezi Duma, who is part of a national elite squad of eight young females being groomed for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.

She and fellow schoolgirl Zoë Frank have been adopted as ambassadors for the foundation, which will help them with training and schooling.

"I started my foundation based on the fact that there are so many drownings and it's really not spoken about," the princess says. "It's the number two killer in the world."

The princess is adamant she does not want to make the aquatics complex too luxurious.

"It was kind of tough [when I trained here] because we didn't have heaters and it was very cold. And sometimes the pumps were broken and the pool was green. It was pretty rough," she says.

"I don't want to change very much. I like the roughness. It's the place where all the hard work happens. We're not trying to do a huge institute or anything over the top."

Dressed casually in shorts, T-shirt and sandals, Princess Charlene then changes into a one-piece costume for a photo shoot with Duma.

But she grimaces as she entered the pool: "Ah!" she exclaims. "Graham, it's cold."

Hill retorts with a smile: "You're getting soft. You never moaned in 2000."

The princess recalled the days when she, Hill and training partner Terence Parkin - the 200m breaststroke silver medallist at the 2000 Olympics - raced for the prize money.

"Times were tough and sponsorship wasn't very good. A lot of the time we travelled on shared prize money - Terence, myself and Graham sharing hotel rooms, sleeping on floors," she says.

"I wouldn't change anything because I honestly don't think I would be the person I am today if I hadn't gone through that. If everything was handed to me, I don't think I would be as appreciative or [as likely] to give back.

"It's great to come home and help people who I know work very hard to coach kids, get them to the next level. These are the people I want to support."

As a swimmer she won Commonwealth Games and All-Africa Games medals, but the standout moment of her sporting career was the 2000 Sydney Games, the only Olympics where she competed.

"The highlight of my career was the Olympics . walking into that stadium and knowing I'd achieved a dream I'd had since I was eight years old," she says.

"I've still got my friends and we still keep in contact. That's what sport gives you - lifetime friendships. That's more valuable than anything else."

The princes met her future husband, whom she calls the "love of my life", at a gala in Monaco.

She returns to Monaco today.

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