Black swimmers need cash support

2012-08-11 19:41

Often, around the time of the Olympics, people ask, “Why are there no black swimmers in the team?” While the 2012 team to London included a black youngster for the first time, Darren Murray, the challenge of transforming swimming will remain central in the years to come.

Swimming cannot be divorced from the society in which we live. The socio-economic challenges facing our country are a major obstacle towards transforming swimming.

Daniel Mothowagae’s recent column:“Do darkies swim?” begs an answer.

Very simply, if you’ve been to any water facility – swimming pool, dam, river or beach – during summer you will see thousands of children in the water every day.

The more important question is why do black children rarely get into the Olympic team?

The answer to that question is multi-dimensional. The growth of competitive and high performance swimming requires various role-players to identify, nurture and develop talent.

The limited financial resources available require families to play a major role in developing talent.

This is in the form of financial support and volunteering their time.

At the competitive level most families pay coaching fees, transport children twice daily, five times a week to training sessions, provide transport to local, national and international competitions and purchase technical equipment for training and competition.

Racing costumes for swimmers cost approximately R3 000, for instance.

The major factor inhibiting black children from becoming internationally competitive is the lack of swimming programmes in township schools, the lack of heated facilities, and access to quality coaching.

This is not only a problem facing black children but the vast majority of children across the country.

In terms of performance only about 400 athletes meet the qualifying criteria to participate at the South African championships and the vast majority of these come from the major metros of South Africa. Only 0.2% of our registered swimmers qualified for the Olympics.

I believe that there is a large pool of untapped talent in South Africa waiting to represent our country. Developing this talent will require substantial investment from the private and public sector in South Africa.

As a country we do have talented black swimmers. The question is: do we have the will and capacity to invest in them? This must be answered by government and corporate South Africa.

– Swimming SA president Jace Naidoo 

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