Paris - Kaylene Corbett, who ranks among the country’s poolside medal prospects for the 2024 Paris Olympics, has been given a shot in the arm in the form of a lucrative sponsorship.
South Africa’s swimmers have to battle great odds in an attempt to shine on the world stage. This is because the national federation is unable to come up with the funding to ensure adequate training and support from technical staff such as physiotherapists, biokineticists, physiologists, and sports scientists.
Research has shown that the world's No 1 swimming country, the US, invests $40 million per medal at the Olympics. The figure is calculated from grassroots support all the way through to training for the Olympics.
Very soon, when the winter months approach, local swimmers will be hard done by, because it is not possible to train properly if pools are not heated. This could well be the case frequently because of load shedding.
Since readmission to the international sporting community, swimming has been South Africa’s most successful Olympic code, and – thanks to swimmers like Tatjana Schoenmaker, Chad le Clos and Kaylene Corbett – this may continue for some time.
The biggest factor in the US's Olympic success is the support of the universities, and in South Africa the University of Pretoria (Tuks) has played an equally crucial role.
Corbett is presently studying there, where she trains under the watchful eye of Olympic-winning coach Rocco Meiring, who also looks after Schoenmaker and Pieter Coetze.
The University of Pretoria's swimming pool has the highest concentration of elite competition medals from the entire continent. What Tuks swimmers have achieved at a global level is against all the odds.
The pool chemicals brand HTH has given Olympic Games finalist Corbett a two-year sponsorship deal worth R500 000 annually. Corbett says this partnership will ensure she can focus solely on swimming.
“I’m delighted to dive into this relationship with HTH – a brand synonymous with my playground, the pool,” said Corbett.
“For as far back as I can remember, I’ve dreamt of and carved out my Olympic participation. HTH has literally been the constant ingredient every single time I’ve touched the water.”
Corbett trains up to 22 hours a week and is preparing for the SA Nationals and World Champs qualification from 5-10 April. Following that, two options are available – the World Champs in Japan or the World Student Games in China.
HTH’s marketing manager, Elsabe Venter, says when they were alerted to Kaylene’s 2024 Olympic Games potential, they dived right in.
“Athlete commercialisation platform MatchKit.co matched us with Kaylene, based on our obvious fit with one of South Africa’s most exciting swimming exports,” said Venter.
“Sports funding is a win-win scenario for both the brand and the athlete it supports, provided the values align, and we believe that empowering young sporting talent is critical for our country’s future growth and success.
“For HTH, investing in Kaylene is an important demonstration of our commitment to our core values, one of which is empowerment.
“Our values are not limited to pool owners or HTH product users only, but rather to the upliftment of the community we as a brand operate in. A growing and uplifted environment and country ultimately mean success for corporates and individuals alike.”
Corbett finished fifth in the 200m breaststroke final at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, where countrywoman Schoenmaker broke the world record and won South Africa's only gold at the global competition.