London Calling: Can’t darkies swim?

2012-08-04 09:27

Nine years ago, there was a huge sense of euphoria in aquatics circles that a black South African would soon emerge in the Olympic Games swimming pool.

Then, two youngsters from Soweto – Thabang Moeketsane and Lucky Nkabinde – were coming through the ranks and ­Moeketsane went on to become a national champion in the 50m breaststroke.

The dream was the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, but it remained just that – a dream.

But as Nkabinde fell by the wayside, Moeketsane never gave up a stroke.

The lad from Moletsane said the best ­advice he got came from Ryk Neethling, who told him: “The best athletes never give up and if you can handle the bad times, you’ll come out on top.”

After a comeback late last year from a nine-month sabbatical, Moeketsane missed the boat for London 2012, meaning South Africa could wait for many years before it sees its black hope in the pool.

Swimming SA president Jace Naidoo once told City Press “there were promising black swimmers coming through the development structures”, but how long must we wait?

Neethling says producing swimmers can be done in 10 to 15 years, but notes:
» Swimming is a unique sport because it is a different medium – you’re in the water and it takes a lot of time to get used to it.

» It takes years, anything between 10 and 15 years, and we need a lot of kids in the water consistently.

Programmes like Learn to Swim need to be systematic and not just once a month.

“We heard Cameron (van der Burgh) ­saying (after winning gold last weekend) that his race was 14 years of preparation ­condensed into 58 seconds.

“We saw some great black swimmers (from other African countries) in the Olympics and I would really love to see that in South Africa,” said Neethling, who achieved his success at the Greece Games eight years ago.

“It can be done, but we need more facilities. Our pools are shocking in South Africa.”

South Africa’s nearest neighbours competing in London 2012 are Luke Hall for ­Swaziland and Kirsty Coventry from Zimbabwe, but both swimmers are based overseas.

Or is the perception that darkies can’t swim just true?

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.