Young swimmers were the biggest losers this week after the national
schools’ swimming championships were cancelled because there were too few black
participants, Mark Skea, a former national swimmer, coach and parent has
issues, like the swimmers, and not on their inflated egos?” Skea, whose child
would have participated, said.
The gala was set to take place at the Kings Park swimming pool in
Durban yesterday and today. Top swimmers from schools in South Africa and other
African countries participate in the yearly event.
Parents, who had already organised accommodation and transport to
Durban, said they were only informed the gala had been cancelled on Thursday.
Some of them are now considering sending their children abroad to
pursue their swimming careers in and for other countries. One parent has
approached swimming federations in the US and Australia, while a German school
has shown interest in another.
Paena Galane, spokesperson for the sport and recreation
department, said that an agreement was reached with stakeholders in May last
year that there would have to be 50/50 representation in school swimming for the
department to continue its support.
“They asked for another year to continue with white swimming
programmes, but the department is keeping to the agreement that 50% have to be
“They continued on their own with the 99% white championship. This
is why it wasn’t a part of the department’s calendar.
“In the spirit of sport development, we want to see more
representative swimming teams before we will become involved again.”
Gerhard Labuschagne, a father from Gauteng, said: “It cost us as
parents money to register our children for the provincial heats. We have also
already booked accommodation in Durban and it costs nearly R10?000 for both
parents to attend a gala like this one.
“Most swimmers are also dependent on bursaries from various
schools. Those who don’t have bursaries are forfeiting getting colours from
“What do you say to your child who really wants to swim for South
Africa, but is being forced to find their fortune overseas because of
Braam van Niekerk, the father of a 12-year-old top swimmer, said he
couldn’t even imagine what affect this decision would have on a child who had
trained for the championships for a year.