Teens the only ones to shine at Grand Prix
THE first leg of the Swimming SA Grand Prix was nothing to rave about without any of the top swimmers in action to add sparkle in Nelspruit over the weekend.
The meet was poorly attended, which was perhaps expected in the first weekend of January.
Some finals had lone swimmers stepping onto the podium without any competition.
The first of four meets in the local series comes a month after the Fina World Short-Course Championships in Canada and the African Union Sports Council Region 5 Under-20 Games in Luanda, Angola.
Teenagers dominated the gala characterised by relatively slow times in the absence of the country’s top swimming talent.
None of the swimmers came close to world championship qualifying times.
In a sense it exposed the lack of depth but it would also be an unfair summation because the meet was held so early in a long season.
SSA will host two trials this season in April and December for the Fina World Long-Course Championships in Budapest and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The four-legged Grand Prix is an opportunity for swimmers to prepare for the SA Swimming Championships in Durban in April.
The series includes stops in Johannesburg, Durban, and Stellenbosch.
The 24-year-old Mel Stronkhorst ruled the men’s breaststroke events claiming the titles over the 50m and 100m distances.
Stronkhorst also won the 50m freestyle while bagging bronze in the 50m buttterfly.
Matthew Bevan also bowed out of the meet with three gold medals in the 400m Individual Medley, 200m breaststroke, 1500m freestyle.
Lize-Mari de Beer, 16, was one of the top female performers winning gold in the 100m and 200m freestyle, silver in the 200m backstroke, and bronze in the 100m backstroke and 50m freestyle.
Kyra Vivian also earned two gold medals winning women’s 100m butterfly and the 200m butterfly events.
The next stop in the series is Johannesburg on January 21 and 22 where a stronger field can be expected.