The South African open water swimming championships took place at the Eikenhof Dam in the Western Cape this past weekend with some quality performances highlighting a successful event hosted by Western Province Aquatics.
Competitors in the 10km race assembled at the Eikenhof Dam in near perfect conditions on Saturday morning for the much anticipated showdown of the crème of South African open water swimmers who had gathered to to race for high stakes – the top two finishers would book their tickets to the FINA World Swimming Championships in Barcelona later in the year. SSA performance manager Dean Price and national coach, Graham Hill were in attendance.
The men’s race was a keenly anticipated showdown with Troyden Prinsloo, Chad Ho, Dannie Marais, Rudolph Visser, stalwart Phil Emslie and the promising Garreth Beech amongst the favourites. Both Ho and Prinsloo have been busy with some international racing experience under their belts during the past few months.
From the gun all eyes were on Ho, fresh off his record fourth victory at the Midmar Mile and a fierce competitor, after the disappointment of missing out on a trip to London last year, he dearly wanted to go to Barcelona as South Africa’s top ranked competitor.
He didn’t disappoint as he immediately broke away from the pack and stamped his authority, with Troyden Prinsloo and Danie Marais in hot pursuit in a battle that endured the entire race.
Ho was relentless in his pursuit of a fast time and build a commanding lead to claim an emphatic victory in a time of 1 hour 56 minutes to claim the title by over 3 minutes.
Troyden Prinsloo claimed the silver in a time of 1:58 ahead of the promising Danie Marais. Visser followed in fourth place ahead of the evergreen Emslie and Beech.
The ladies race saw the current FINA 5km World Junior Champion Michele Weber immediately establish a lead ahead over her provincial teammates, Clarice Le Roux and Sasha-Lee Nordegen. Despite losing her goggles on a number of occasions during the race, Weber managed to claim her maiden national 10km title when she posted an excellent time of 2:10. Clarice Le Roux and Sasha-Lee Nordegen fought it out to the finish, with Le Roux claiming the silver while Nordegen had to settle for the bronze.
Sunday morning saw conditions change for the worse with a fierce wind blowing across the dam setting yet another challenge for 84 athletes that had assembled to race in the 5km events.
From the gun the going was tough as the field headed directly into the oncoming wind with Chad Ho, Danie Marais and Abdul-Malick Railoun headed out the field in a battle that saw some exciting racing.
Ho and Marais picked up the pace going into the final stretch with Ho claiming the double by winning the 5km title in a time of 59:43.29 ahead of Marais who less than 2 seconds behind in 59:45.01.
The ladies race saw Michelle Weber stamp her authority from the gun when she led from start to finish, finishing with a time of 1:01:04.59. Kyna Pereira took the silver in a time of 1:01:09.77, while Carmen le Roux claimed bronze in 1:01:14.76 to complete a clean sweep for Kwa-Zulu Natal.