Pretoria – South Africa’s current crop of swimmers is arguably the greatest generation in the country’s history. One will be hard pressed to think of a time when the country had so many internationally renowned swimming stars.
The list is extremely impressive, from Cameron van der Burgh, Chad le Clos, Myles Brown and Giulio Zorzi, to the evergreen Roland Schoeman, South Africa has swimming talent in abundance.
The young crop will spearhead the SA contingent at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland next year.
Van der Burgh is no stranger to hogging international headlines, having bagged 100m breaststroke Olympic gold last year in London. This year he continued where he left off, winning silver and gold at the Fina World Championships in the 100m and 50m in Barcelona, Spain.
Double (silver and gold) Olympic medallist Le Clos recently won three gold medals in the Doha (Qatar) leg of the Fina World Cup series which came on top of three other gold medals in the Moscow leg.
Rising young star Brown won gold in the 1 500m and 400m freestyle in the Moscow leg of the World Cup. Earlier this year at the World Championships he finished in sixth place in the final of the 400m freestyle.
Tshwane swimmer Zorzi burst onto the international scene in a big way when he won gold at the World Student Games and bronze in the 50m breaststroke at the World Championships.
Zorzi has now set his sights on the Rio 2016 Olympics after realising that dreams can come true.
South African swimming coach Graham Hill says there is a vast amount of talent coming through the ranks which will add depth to the current pool of distinguished talent.
“I think the four guys (Le Clos, Van der Burgh, Zorzi and Brown) could be leading the way to a golden generation in South African swimming. We are entering an era of dominance where swimmers have the self-belief and confidence in their ability,” said Hill.
Swimming great Ryk Neethling, the first South African to compete at four consecutive Olympic Games, agrees with Hill that the current talent pool has the potential to become the best the nation has seen.
“I think the Olympics will give us an indication of where the current swimmers will rank in the history books. But certainly this is the best pool of talent we’ve had. It’s more diverse and versatile as compared our time. This time around we have guys who perform well all round – Chad in the butterfly, Cameron and Giulio in the breaststroke and Myles in the longer distances,” said the Athens Olympics gold medallist.