With over 125 participants from 19 African countries, the XII CANA African Swimming Championships kicked off in Mangaung, Free State on Sunday with nine medals (four gold, three silver and two bronze) for the South African team.
The first gold medal for the host nation came from 20-year-old Alaric Basson in the 100m breaststroke, touching the wall in a fast 1 min 03.12 sec, while teammate Michael Houlie finished second in 1:03.46 and Egypt’s Hassan Yasser third in 1:03.66.
There was no stopping young Rebecca Meder (14) as she raced to Mzansi’s second gold medal in the 400m individual medley, clocking 4:48.81, over four seconds ahead of Algeria’s Rania Hamida Nefsi in 5:02.58 and Egypt’s Rowaida Hesham in 5:05.51.
In the 200m freestyle, Myles Brown proved too quick for the opposition, winning in 1:50.93 ahead of Egypt’s Marwan Elamrawy in 1:51.60 and SA’s Calvyn Justus in 1:51.92.
Algeria’s Amel Melih dominated the ladies 100m freestyle with a gold medal-winning time of 58.28 and was closely followed by SA’s Gabi Grobler and Samantha Labuschagne who finished with the silver and bronze in 58.54 and 59.38 respectively.
Melih also booked the silver medal in the 50m backstroke in 31.08 behind Seychelles’ Alexus Laird in 30.68 and ahead of Egypt’s Ingy Abouzaid in 31.72.
Egypt grabbed their first gold medal of the competition in the 50m backstroke as Mohamed Samy topped the medal podium in 26.62, while SA’s Jacques van Wyk claimed silver in 27.12 and Morocco’s Driss Lahrichi the bronze in 27.59.
The women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay promised to be an exciting final and the race lived up to expectations as Nathania van Niekerk, Caitlin Kat, Jessica Whelan and Rebecca Meder scooped gold in 8:39.00, with Algeria and Egypt completing the remaining medal placings in 8:56.87 and 9:06.63 respectively.
Day two’s heats start at 10am, while the finals will begin at 4pm daily.
Picture of Alaric Basson on his way to gold courtesy of Frikkie Kapp, Superimage Media