By Mark Etheridge
South Africa got their World Deaf Swimming Championships off with a bang in San Antonio, Texas on Monday with a gold and two bronze medals.
Peggy de Villiers was the star of the opening day’s competition as she broke a world deaf record in the 50-metre butterfly heats and went on to improve on her time with her gold medal swim in the evening.
De Villiers, pictured left, also bagged bronze in the 200m freestyle final.
The other bronze medal went the way of Potchestroom’s Cornell Loubser, pictured right, also in the 50m butterfly.
De Villiers, originally from Somerset West but now based at the University of West Florida in the United States, swam 28.40sec in the heats and improved that to 28.28 in the evening’s final.
Team manager Tadhg Slattery, a six-time Paralympian athlete, was happy with the first day’s results.
‘Peggy swam the 200m freestyle nicely and saved some energy for the 50m fly final but was very happy to grab a bronze medal in 2min 11.93sec.
‘In the 50m fly she was brilliant and felt so comfortable. Her fly stroke looks really strong as proved by her breaking the deaf world record twice. As for Cornell she started off a bit slow as she wasn’t quite ready as the referee whistled too quickly. She tried hard to catch up and her butterfly was beautiful. She ended up tied for third with a Belarussian swimmer in 29.56. She was so happy that there were tears as she overwhelmed her previous personal best.’
Wednesday is the 50m freestyle heats and once again De Villiers will be in action as she goes in search of more medals.
The SA team’s participation at the Championships was made possible by funding from the NLTDF (National Lottery Trust Distribution Fund).