PORT ELIZABETH – Some of South Africa’s top swimming talent will be in action at next week's SA National Aquatic Championships at the Newton Park Pool in Port Elizabeth.
The week-long competition will also serve as a selection event for the African Youth Games, the African Swimming Championships, the Youth Olympic Games and the AUSC Region 5 Games later this year.
The South African swimming team recently shone at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where they finished third on the medal table with a total of 12 medals – six gold, three silver, and three bronze – and para-swimmer Christian Sadie will be the only medallist from the Games to hit the water in Port Elizabeth.
SA’s women’s 100-metre freestyle record-holder Erin Gallagher will be among the top-class female swimmers at the Championships.
Gallagher was one of the star performers at the Commonwealth Games where she made it into three individual finals and finished sixth in the 100m freestyle final, which included former Australian world-champion sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell.
Gallagher broke Karin Prinsloo’s national and continental 100m freestyle record in the semi-final at the Games, clocking 54.38sec to finish in fourth position and shaving 0.1sec off the previous time.
Gallagher will be swimming in the 50m and 100m freestyle, the 100m butterfly and the 50m backstroke.
She will be up against fellow Commonwealth participants Emma Chelius, Mariella Venter and Duné Coetzee in the various strokes.
South Africa’s youngest members at the Games, Coetzee and Luan Grobbelaar, will be looking to translate their experience at the multi-sport event into title-winning performances at the week-long event.
Grobbelaar will face some tough competition in the 200m breaststroke in Ayrton Sweeney and Michael Houlie, who featured prominently at the Games.
Seventeen-year-old Houlie made a dream debut at the quadrennial showpiece where he finished sixth in the men’s 50m breaststroke final with a time of 27.83. It was a special final with London 2012 Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh winning his third straight title in the event.
The women’s 200m breaststroke final was also one of the highlights of the Games, featuring three South African women: Tatjana Schoenmaker, who went on to win the title in a new South African record time, with Emily Visagie and Kaylene Corbett finishing seventh and eighth respectively.
The women’s breaststroke races should provide for some of the highlights at the championships even in the absence of Schoenmaker.
Corbett and Visagie will have their work cut out for them with a host of talented youngsters like Aime Canny, Christin Mundell and Rebecca Meder challenging for medals.
FINA Junior World Championships finalist Meder will feature prominently, swimming six individual events including the 200m freestyle, the 200m individual medley and the 200m breaststroke.
The Championships heats session will start at 9:30am, while the finals will begin at 6pm daily.
The staging of this event has been made possible through the support provided by Swimming SA partners, Sport and Recreation South Africa, SASCOC, National Lotteries Commission, Arena and Rand Water.