ready to make a big splash

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

The South African aquatics team left for Deagu, Korea, yesterday where the athletes will spend 15 days to acclimatise to weather conditions in Asia ahead of the Beijing Olympics from August 8 to 24.

Rushdee Warley, aquatics team manager, said: "The training camp is an integral part of our preparations. We don't often get the opportunity to get together as a team. It will be good motivation for our athletes to be training as a unit."

The squad comprises 25 athletes, the largest ever for the Olympics and more than double the number of athletes at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Warley said that after returning from Athens in 2004, Swimming South Africa (SSA) met with their coaches to get their opinions on the way forward for swimming in South Africa.

"One of the key elements that came out of those talks with our coaches was that there was not enough quality racing opportunities for our athletes.

"We then developed a strategy that encompassed competition opportunities in Europe and through the All Africa Games, as well as locally. As a result, many of our athletes, especially the juniors, are now ahead in terms of their preparation," he explained.

The squad is made up of medal hopefuls such as Roland Schoeman, Ryk Neethling, Natalie du Toit, Riaan Schoeman and Lyndon Ferns

Darian Townsend, Gideon Louw, Jean Basson, Ferns, Neil Versveld, Roland Schoeman, Neethling, Troy Prinsloo and coach Rick de Mont will join their fellow teammates in Deagu tomorrow. Jenna Dryer will join them in Beijing.

The SA squad: Amanda Loots (100m butterfly), Cameron van der Burgh (100m breaststroke 4x100m medley), Chad Ho (marathon), Townsend (200m individual medley, 200m freestyle, 4x100m, 4x200m freestyle relay), George du Randt (100m, 200m backstroke), Gerhard Zandberg (100m backstroke 4x100m freestyle and 400m medley relay), Gideon Louw (50m freestyle, 400m freestyle relay), Jasper Venter (800m freestyle relay), Basson (200m, 400m freestyle, 800m freestyle relay), Dryer (3m springboard), Jessica Pengelly (200m and 400m individual medley), Kathryn Meaklim (400m individual medley, 200m fly), Ferns (100m freestyle, 100m fly, 4x100m freestyle, 4x100m medley), Lize-Mari Retief (50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 100m fly, 400m medley relay), Melissa Corfe (100m, 200m backstroke, 200m, 400m freestyle, 400m medley relay), Du Toit (marathon), Versveld (200m breaststroke), Riaan Schoeman (400m IM), Roland Schoeman (50m freestyle, 400m freestyle relay, 400m medley relay), Neethling (100m freestyle, 4x100m relay, 400m medley relay), Sebastian Roussouw (800m freestyle relay), Suzaan van Biljon (100m, 200m breaststroke, 400m medley relay), Troy Prinsloo (1500m freestyle), Wendy Trott (400m, 800m freestyle) and William Deiring (200m breaststroke).