By Mark Etheridge
Despite not being at her strongest right now, Rio Olympian Michelle Weber was strong enough to notch up another SA Open Water title in Jeffreys Bay at the weekend.
Weber may have had to settle for second in both the five and 10km events but it was only world champion Ana Cunha of Brazil who got the better of her on both occasions.
It was a great race and we had some fast racing but I’m happy to be South Africa’s fastest female in both 5km and 10km,’ Weber told Team SA.
‘I came second to Ana so I was happy to have finished right behind her. It was great racing and I gained a lot of experience already in the 10km and managed to make a few changes the next day in the 5km.
‘I’m really happy where I am at this point of the year. I’m usually not at my strongest now and will build it up during the year for bigger competitions like the world championships.
‘So I’m excited to build on the base I have now. Also a huge thank you to everyone who organised the event and well done to each swimmer who took part. There were 300+ swimmers taking part at nationals this weekend so it’s really exciting to see how fast open water swimming is growing in South Africa.’
Many of South Africa’s top swimmers are gunning for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games but not Weber, formerly from Durban and now living with her parents in Franschhoek, Western Cape.
‘Sadly there’s no open water at Commonwealth Games but I really want to do a few open water World Cups – there are 10 in a year so if I could attend a few it would really help me improve my world rankings.’
Unfortunately, like in so many sports codes, funding is a problem. ‘Each Cup costs an estimate of R30 000 to take part in so it’s really expensive but I’ll need to compete internationally if I want a shot at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan,’ says the 21-year-old.
‘I’m still swimming full time and I receive no funding.’
There’s a possibility that Weber may receive some form of funding from her provincial body which would be a welcome help.
Picture of Weber (in dark blue cap, centre of picture) in SA Nationals action courtesy of Joey Nel