SA swimming: With sponsorship, we could do even better than this

2013-08-04 10:01

Swimming SA (SSA) president Jace Naidoo and head coach Graham Hill were in agreement this week that, with sponsorship, the team would have done even better at the 15th World Swimming Championships.

By last night the team had bagged three gold medals, along with a silver and a bronze. This improved on the country’s best performance on the world stage, which was at the Montreal championships in 2005 when the team also won five medals of which two were gold, one silver and two bronze. This week’s medals came from Chad le Clos, who took gold in the 100m and 200m butterfly, Cameron van der Burgh, who won gold in the 50m breaststroke, and Giulio Zorzi, who took the bronze. Van der Burgh also won silver in the 100m breaststroke for good measure. “Lack of sponsorship is having a negative influence on swimming,” said Naidoo.

Hill chipped in: “There is so much swimming talent in the country that anything is possible. The problem is funding.

“We would love to have three relay teams competing at the next Olympics, but without a sponsor this is not possible. You cannot rely on four swimmers and have no backup. If you want a successful relay team you are talking about six to eight swimmers for one relay.

“They will have to compete at the highest level and at this moment in time we do not have the money for that.”

The coach said that they were in a rebuilding stage for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“A number of swimmers retired after the London Olympics and we are rebuilding the team. This is the reason we took youngsters along to the world championships.

“They need experience, but with our limited resources they also need to show me they can step it up. If there is no improvement in their times, we cannot continue. This is high performance and it is a cruel world out there, especially without sponsors,” said Hill.

Naidoo added: “Our biggest problem hindering the work we have to do is getting three or four coaches, or SSA, monitoring swimmers in the different provinces. We have already identified 150 swimmers at different levels in the provinces, but they need constant monitoring.

“We also need to develop new coaches.”

He said the lack of money was preventing Swimming SA from employing more coaches.

But the biggest need for the swimmers is regular camps with head coach Hill against international competition.

“International competition is crucial for swimmers. It is the only way to see if they are on track. Camps really help, too, as all the top swimmers are there and the younger swimmers learn from them.

“At the moment, the swimming squad is basically a skeleton and we need to develop depth, but without sponsors it is difficult,” said Naidoo.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.

“We have the services of an agent looking for sponsorship. We have also spoken to several huge companies about coming on board. The economic situation is not helping a lot, but there are two major companies who have shown an interest,” he said.

The championships end today.

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