JEFFREYS Bay has been confirmed as a world class open water swim venue as hundreds of swimmers from all over the country descended upon the coastal town for the 2017 South African Open Water Swim Championships.
Conditions were close to perfect for racing at Marina Martinique with the 10 km swim and the 3 km swim taking place last Saturday and the 5 km event on Sunday.
South Africa’s former world 10 km champion and double Olympian Chad Ho looked very relaxed during the early stages of the 10 km, and only put the hammer down at around the 8.5 km mark.
Ho won in a time of 1 hour 51 minutes, while Nico Manoussakis finished second in 1 hour 52 minutes. Danie Marais won the bronze medal.
“Marina Martinique is a very interesting place to swim and can get quite technical with the various turns and winding canal walls. As a swimmer you have to keep focused on the course, as well as your competitors,” said Ho after his victory.
The women’s 10 km race was tough with four swimmers competing neck-and-neck in the latter stages of the race.
Only the top two finishers will represent South Africa at the World Swim Champs in Budapest later this year.
Sasha-Lee Nordengen-Corris (2:02:08,52) managed to edge out KwaZulu Natal team mate Robyn Kinghorn (2:02:08,81) by a mere 0.03 of a second.
Charlise Oberholzer finished third in 2:02:11,99 after race favourite and current Olympian Michelle Weber was disqualified for missing the final turn buoy.
In the 5 km event, Danie Marais managed to out-touch Chad Ho in a thrilling finish that went down to the wire.
“The last 400 was like a sprint till the end. it was every man for himself. I took a good line and got lucky and won the race.
I tried to attack a lot during the race, but Chad Ho and the other leaders always caught me at some stage,” said Marais after his victory.
In the women’s 5 km swim, Robyn Kinghorn beat Michelle Weber in a tight race that saw the swimmers tussle for the entire distance.
Kouga Mayor Elza Van Lingen was at the SA Champs and watched the women’s 5 km event unfold.
“It is great to see the high standard of swimming and I am sure the swimmers who have been selected to represent South Africa at the World Champs will do us proud,” said Van Lingen.
“Congratulations to all the swimmers who took part and a special word of thanks to the organisers, including our own Councillor Brenton Williams who played an integral part in bringing the SA Champs to Jeffreys Bay,” added Van Lingen.
The SA Champs will be screened on SABC 2 on the Swim Show on Saturday morning, as well as featuring on Super Sport next week.
The next open water swim event in Jeffreys Bay will be the Cold Water Classic on July 16, forming part of the JBay Winterfest.
*Full results not available from Swim South Africa at time of publication.