PMB teen swimmer wins five golds

2011-12-07 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG teenager, who has just returned from the African Championships held in Nigeria last week, is not only one of the youngest members of the winning South African Junior Swimming Team, but also the top medal winner with a tally of no fewer than five golds and a silver.

Thirteen-year-old Jamie Reynolds, a Grade 8 pupil at St Johns, won gold in four of her five events, taking silver in the fifth.

A member of the 28-strong team of 14 boys and 14 girls between the ages of 13-14 (Class G1) and 15-16 (Class G2), Reynolds was the highest medal scorer of the team, followed closely by 14-year-old Marlies Ross of Pretoria, who took three gold and one silver.

The junior team of Swimming South Africa returned with 69 medals out of a possible 80.

“It was wonderful,” said Reynolds.

Her parents were not among the handful of people welcoming the 28 swimmers at O.R. Tambo International Airport, and to celebrate with them she first had to catch a flight to Durban.

The stars of the gala were Kyle van Niekerk (13), Tammy Crafford (16) and Chanel Johnston, who recently turned 16, all from Waterborn Swimming Club in Randburg, whose swimmers are all trained by former champion and Olympic swimmer Peter Williams.

They spend between four and five hours per day in the water and train every day of the week — three times a week at 5 am and in the afternoons or early evenings.

Van Niekerk took gold in all three of his events — 200 m, 100 m and 50 m freestyle. His times for the 50 m and 100 m were SA records, as well as African records at this age-based championship.

SA team manager Anton Jordaan says each country was allowed to enter only two swimmers per event, and that is why they won “only” 69 of the possible 80 medals in these 40 events. The entire gala had 240 medals available. The South African team won 35 gold medals and set 11 gala records.

Marlies Ross (14), who swims for the Tuks Swimming Club came first in the 100 m breaststroke, 200 m individual medley and 200 m freestyle, and was the runner-up in the 100 m backstroke.

This brilliant athlete is also a two-time world champion after winning the World Bi-athlete Championships last year in Dubai and in 2007 in Monaco.This tough event consists of a 500 m sprint, 100 m swim and another 500 m in running shoes.

“I started swimming when I was six years old. It helps a lot,” she said proudly with a fistfull of medals.

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