Proud swimmers bring home gold from Mexico

2014-11-24 00:00

TWO local swimmers have put Durban on the map at the seventh Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation World Championships in Mexico.

Between the two of them, long distance swimmer Jennifer Higgins (30) from Glenashley and Hylton Heggie (24) from Sunningdale raked up 10 medals, among them two golds.

Nine South Africans participated in the competition which took place from November 7 to 15 in Morelia in Mexico.

According to website KidsHealth.org, Down Syndrome is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delays in a child’s development, affecting the child’s growth mentally and physically.

Competition co-ordinator Barbara Higgins said Jennifer won six medals and currently holds the title of being the top Down Syndrome swimmer in the country.

“She has broken multiple world records. This time she won gold for her 400 m individual medley and two silver medals for 200 m individual medley and 400 m freestyle. She also won two bronze medals for her freestyle medley as well as the relay medley,” said Higgins.

She said Hylton broke the South African record in one of his races, and won a bronze medal for the 50 m medley. His male relay team won four medals including one gold medal.

Spokesperson Albert Warnick said swimmers had been awarded full South African colours by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). Higgins said the first Swimming World Championship for athletes with Down Syndrome took place in Reading, England in 2002.

“Since then this event has taken place every two years: 2004 in Durban, South Africa; 2006 in Limerick, Ireland; 2008 in Albufeira, Portugal; 2010 in Taipei, Taiwan; 2012 in Loano, Italy. Each year the number of countries and swimmers has increased,” said Warnick.

Currently the Down Syndrome International Swimming Organisation has over 300 registered swimmers from 30 countries. “Team South Africa has been quite successful in previous competitions, bringing home a significant amount of medals,” said Warnick.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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