For the first time in many years, world class swimmers will be competing in a gala at the Newton Park swimming pool in Port Elizabeth this weekend.

The South African Invitational Gala will see international swimmers take on the South Africans in an event which heralds the start of the build up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Cameron Van Der Burgh is on track for the 2012 Olympic Games

Leading the charge will be Cameron Van Der Burgh who is the world record holder in the 50 m breaststroke and is a genuine medal contender for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Cameron swam the 4th fastest time in the world in the 100m breaststroke in 2010 and will be pushing hard towards swimming well under one minute during 2010. His first race in PE will be the 50m breaststroke on Saturday morning.

The Men’s 400 Individual Medley will see South Africans Riaan Schoeman and Chad Le Clos fight it out to the finish. Both are finalist prospects for the 2012 Olympic Games but are somewhat off the mark set by American Ryan Lochte during 2010.

The 100m backstroke will be a tightly contested affair with Liam Tancock from Great Britain certain to lay down the gauntlet to South Africans Gerhard Zandberg and George Du Rand, with American Randall Bal who will all be hunting gold in this event.

South African Kathryn Meaklim will be hoping to get her bid for glory in 2012 on track in the medley events when she competes against Olympic medallist Kirsty Coventry (Zimbabwe) and Mireia Belmonte (Spain) in the 200m IM.

The current world record holder in the 50m freestyle, Britta Steffan (Germany) will lead a strong international field in this event as well as the 100m freestyle.

The gala starts with heats at 09h30 on Saturday morning at the Newton Park pool, with finals at 17h30 on both Saturday and Sunday. To round off an action packed swim weekend there is also the Weekend Post Ocean racing Series taking place on Sunday morning at Hobie Beach where swimmers have a choice between a 1 K or a 3 K ocean swim.

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