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Posts Tagged ‘Swim

Marathon Swimming a hit in Jeffreys Bay

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Despite a cold wind and overcast conditions, over 60 hard core swimmers took to the canals of Marina Martinique in Jeffreys Bay on Sunday to participate in the inaugural Kouga Express EP Open Water Swim Series (OWSS)

Mike Marais winner of the 5km swim wordpress

Michael Marais, winner of the 5 km open water swim at Marina Martinique Jeffreys Bay

Competitors had a choice between a 5 km, 3 km or a 1 km swim and three swimmers chose to compete in the grueling 5 km swim.  Michael Marais eventually took top honours in the 5 km, swimming a South African national qualifying time of 1:03:16

Marais said after the race that is was a tough swim and his back was hurting but he wanted to swim a qualifying time early in the season and had to power until the finish buoy to achieve his goal.

Jessica Roux took the 5 km women’s race in 1:07:10 which is also a SA national qualifying time.  Rebecca Newman had a good swim in her first ever 5 km swim and recorded a credible 1:11:26 and with some more experience, should swim a qualifying time this season.

The 3 km swim was well supported with swimmers battling it out through the Marina Martinique canals.  Local residents cheered from their houses as the competitors did a circular route in the canals. Jonathan Roux (15 yrs) won the swim in 42 minutes from Mickey Falco.  Tammy Geyer (17yrs) was the first woman home in 44:43.

Richard Jute won the Masters race with local swim coach Brenton Williams coming second.  Both Jute and Williams swam South African national open water qualifying times.  Marina Barnard, also from Jeffreys Bay was the first woman master swimmer to finish.

The 1 km swim saw 16 local swimmers take to the water and the youngsters dominated the boys U/13 division with Seth de Swart (10yrs) winning from Kendal Wright (12yrs) and Pieter Ellis (8yrs) coming third.  Competing against the older boys, Ellis showed his has the potential to become a good open water swimmer in time to come.

The youngest girl swimmer to take part in the 1 km event was 8 yr old Alexa Vaughn from Port Elizabeth, who managed to complete the course.  “I didn’t think it would be so far when I entered but I just did some breastroke and freestyle and then sprinted the last 200m to the end of the race”, said Vaughn.  “I will be back in Jeffreys Bay next month to finish my next 1 km”, she added.

Brenton Williams, coach of the Kouga Swim Club, based in Jeffreys Bay was very happy with the turn out for the first swim of the series that will see six swims take place in the Marina during the next six months.  “Open water swimming is one of the fastest growing extreme sports in the world and interest is growing after the inclusion of the 10 km marathon swim in the Olympic Games”.

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(Above: South Africa’s Natalie du Toit in action in the women’s 10 km marathon swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games)

“Open water swimmers must be ready to compete in all weather and water conditions which adds to the challenge of swimming long distances.  The EP OWSS is designed to nurture swimmers along until they are ready to compete in the 10 km event, which is only open to swimmers of 16 years and older”, said Williams.

Mike Zoetmulder from Zports who organized the event said, “This event is an exciting initiative to grow open water swimming in the Eastern Cape and EP Aquatics together with the Kouga Swim Club have put together a great 6-part Series which will take place in the pristine canals of Jeffreys Bay’s Marina Martinique this summer. With one event a month planned for the Marina, we hope to see hundreds of social swimmers coming down and taking part in this fantastic Series”.

Swimmers who want to prepare for the next EP OWSS event which will take part on 22 November at Marina Martinique can swim a 1km or a 2 km in the Ocean Racing Series which will take place on Sunday in Port Elizabeth.  Entries can be done online at

The Kouga Swim Club holds training sessions in the Marina Martinique canals on Monday and Wednesday mornings at 7 am for adult swimmers and Friday afternoons at 15.15 for all age groups.  Non members are welcome to attend and details can be obtained by emailing

More information about open water swimming can be found at:



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Anybody who watched the Awesome Foursome (Ryk, Roland Schoeman, Lyndon Ferns and Darian Townsend) win gold in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay at the Athens Olympics in 2004, would enjoy reading the recently released Ryk Neethling autobiography.


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The book covers the build up to the Athens Olympics and reveals how the top swimmers started believing they could win the gold medal in the relay, even though they had only finished in eighth position at the World Champs the previous year.


The rest is, as they say is history, and the unforgettable sight of the four South Africans celebrating while a stunned Michael Phelps looks on, will forever be etched in the minds of South Africans.


Neethling describes how he landed up training in America, and the many sacrifices that needed to be made along the way.  The hard work a top swimmers needs to put into the pool is described, without going into jargon that only a swimmer would understand.


It is quite a story about how a boy from Bloemfontein reached the top of international swimming and eventually achieved his dream of winning an Olympic gold medal.


Neethling does not pull punches when telling how Swim SA, the body controlling the sport in the country seemed to be working against the swimmers, instead of supporting them.  Many valid points are mentioned and one wonders what will actually become of the sport in the future.


It is clear, not only from “Chasing the Dream”, but also from events that occurred at Beijing that all is not well at Swim SA.  Neethling covers the build up to Beijing and the clashes he had with Dirk Lange, the disgraced national swim coach.


Lange should have never been appointed as our national director of coaching in the first place and lets just hope he has not caused lasting damage to South African swimming.  His inferiority complex when dealing with our senior swimmers contributed in a large manner to the rift between the local based and the overseas based swimmers.


The incompetence displayed by the administrators at Swim SA compounded the problem and instead of winning medals at Olympic Games, we now have officials  telling us about how many African and national records we broke at the Olympics. 


Let’s hope Neethling’s book will cause some frank discussions about where we are as a swimming nation and that plans to ensure we win medals at the 2012 Olympics will be put into place now.


Ryk Neethling is a prime example of South Africa’s never say die attitude and he is worthy of being called a South African sports legend.  May his book inspire the next generation of South African swimmers who will believe that they can conquer the world, no matter what obstacles stand in their path.