#UPGraduation2023: Engineering graduate and swimming champ ready to dive into next chapter

Posted on May 10, 2023

University of Pretoria (UP) engineering graduate Chase Onorati describes his family as being loving yet disciplined, “with a contagious sense of dedication and determination”. These are qualities that have spurred him on to succeed not only in academia, but in the swimming pool too.

Onorati, who recently graduated with a BEng degree in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, attributes his achievements to the devotion, sacrifices, and emotional and financial support provided by his parents. He also credits his father, who is a vehicle technician and panel beater, for encouraging his interest in engineering.

“He is extremely capable with any form of artisan work – I got my passion for mechanical systems from him,” says the Harare-born graduate who was head boy in his final year at St John’s College in Borrowdale, Zimbabwe.

Onorati singles out a research project that he undertook under the guidance of Professor Willem le Roux of UP’s Clean Energy Research Group as a highlight of his academic studies.

“The topic was high-temperature solar receiver testing, and I thoroughly enjoyed the technical, hands-on nature of the project,” he says. “The practical took place at the Gerotek Test Facilities and was by far the most enjoyable practical that I have ever participated in!”

UP engineering graduate Chase Onorati sits poolsode on a diving platform dressed in a graduation gown and cap

Onorati attributes his academic and sporting success to devotion, sacrifices and support from his parents.

Another highlight of Onorati’s years at UP was being part of UP’s swimming team. Having won several gold medals in national events and competed in numerous international championships – including the 2016 African Union Sports Council Region Games in Angola, where he won silver and bronze medals; the Junior World Championship in Indianapolis (2017), US; and the Senior World Short Course Championship (2018) in Hangzhou, China – it’s little wonder that Onorati took to the TuksSwimming team like a duck to water.

“When I came to UP, I met legendary swimming coach Rocco Meiring [coach of Olympic star and UP alumna Tatjana Schoenmaker] and joined the TuksSwimming team – it was a dream come true!” Onorati exclaims.

He says the team displays high levels of dedication and determination – qualities he is well acquainted with – and understood why they did extremely well, both nationally and internationally.

“The effort that everyone puts in to ensure that the pool, and the strength and conditioning facilities are perfect enables swimmers to train under ideal conditions every day,” he says. “Coach Meiring is extremely dedicated to his swimmers, and members of the squad not only remain motivated, but support one another and maintain high levels of competitiveness throughout the season.”

UP engineering graduate Chase Onorati perched on a swimming pool diving platform dressed in a graduation gown and cap while wearing swimming goggles on

Onorati, who is a member of TuksSwimming, has won several gold medals in national swimming events and competed in numerous international championships.

For now though, Onorati has hung up his swimming cap to focus on his career as a consultant engineer at Spoormaker & Partners. He is keen to do research on renewable energy solutions.

“I am determined to achieve my goals and will persevere, regardless of the difficulties I may face,” he says. He believes he will continue to excel because he is efficient with time management and is always open to growth, especially when it comes to enriching his knowledge.

Apart from his own strengths and the support of his family, Onorati makes special mention of his best friend, Jason Farr.

“Over the years, Jason has supported me emotionally and has kept me motivated. He inspires me to be the best possible version of myself. He has helped me to continue unlocking my true potential, and for that I am grateful.”

For those who are about to pursue their academic and sporting dreams, Onorati has a message for them.

“There is no limit to what you are able to achieve. Decide what you want, then chase after it. The biggest regret might not be the things you failed at, but the things you failed to try. Do what your potential allows you to do. Do not give up on anything until you have given it your very best. What makes me stay on track to reach my goals is this affirmation: I may not make excuses or limit myself from achieving my maximum potential.”

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