Teens the only ones to shine at Grand Prix

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCK­ERT DE VIL­LIERS

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.

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