Olympic places on the line for SA divers and open water swimmers in Doha

A team of 49 open water swimmers, divers, water polo players and artistic swimmers will represent South Africa at the World Aquatics Championships starting in Doha, Qatar today, 2 February. They’ll... Read more
Olympic places on the line for SA divers and open water swimmers in Doha

A team of 49 open water swimmers, divers, water polo players and artistic swimmers will represent South Africa at the World Aquatics Championships starting in Doha, Qatar today, 2 February.

They’ll be joined by the pool swimmers late next week, with the swimming competition only scheduled to kick off from 11-18 February.

While some have already secured their Olympic spots in Paris, for others the coming days will determine whether they will be part of the SA team in the French capital later this year.

One of those athletes looking to secure her spot on that team is open water swimmer Amica de Jager, who finished as the top South African woman at the last World Championships in Japan in both the 5km and 10km.

“My training prep for world champs went really well. After I qualified for [the World Championships] at [SA] trials, we trained right through the holidays to ensure the best prep we could, as there wasn’t much time until competition. I feel that it definitely paid off.”

There are only 22 Olympic berths on offer in the women’s 10km marathon event and with three of those spots already filled at the last World Championships, De Jager will be hoping for a top-13 finish in Doha to qualify. That means she won’t have to rely on the one continental berth.

De Jager is adamant that the experience she gained from her last World Championships will make all the difference this time around.

“Every race in open water swimming is totally different (different race strategies, different conditions, different courses, etc.) so it makes race experience an important aspect. I learnt a lot from my previous world champs so I will definitely be applying all of that knowledge to this year’s race.”

De Jager will be joined in the women’s races by Tory Earle and Callen Lotter while Connor Albertyn, Ruan Breytenbach, Henré Louw and Rossouw Venter will
be competing in the men’s events.

Meanwhile, another of the South Africans competing in Doha, diver Julia Vincent, will enjoy a slightly less stressful time in Qatar, having already claimed an Olympic qualification spot at the last World Championships. She’ll be cheering on her SA teammates, however, who are still out to secure their own places on the team.

“My preparation has been going pretty well. I was nursing a small injury but I feel good now. I’m mostly pain-free and I feel like I’m moving very well. My first training session here went very well so I feel pretty good and I’m just excited to compete again,” she said.

Looking to learn as much as possible with an eye on qualifying for the 2028 Olympic Games is Zalika Methula, who will celebrate her 18th birthday in Doha.

“Having a world champs early in the season is a little strange just because you have to make sure you have all your dives ready for such a prestigious event. But it’s always such an honour representing SA that I’m always excited to be on the international stage,” she said.

“My biggest goal is to have a consistently good list and soak in the amazing opportunity. A big lesson I’ve learnt is to stop comparing myself to other divers because everyone’s journey is different and we all take different ways in order to get ourselves to the top.”

Methula said she is making the most of competing alongside veterans like soon-to-be three-time Olympian Vincent.

“I’ve always looked up to Jules from a very young age and having her here with me is such an honour. I’ve also learnt a lot from her and she’s been
incredibly influential in my journey.”

Both South Africa’s women’s and men’s water polo teams will be in action in Doha. The women’s team, who claimed a famous win over Argentina at the last
World Championships in Japan, have been drawn in Group D alongside Italy, Great Britain and Canada, while the men have been drawn in Group A in their tournament along with Australia, Croatia and Spain. Play gets under way on Sunday, 4 February while the artistic swimming competition kicks off today.

SA teams at World Aquatics Championships – 2-18 February 2024

Diving:

Bailey Heydra, Zalika Methula, Anathi Shozi, Julia Vincent

Open water swimming:

Connor Albertyn, Ruan Breytenbach, Amica de Jager, Tory Earle, Callen Lotter, Henré Louw, Rossouw Venter

Artistic swimming:

Holly de Bruyn, Jessica Hayes-Hill, Ella Huang, Phindile Makhaye, Laura Strugnell, Tayla-Jade van Huysteen, Casey Williams, Sarah Williams

Water polo

Women: Yanah Gerber, Amica Hallendorff, Shakira January, Tumaini Macdonell, Nicola MacLeod, Meghan Maartens, Chloe Meecham, Boati Motau, Daniela
Passoni, Amber Penny, Megan Sileno, Kelsey White, Annie Thornton-Dibb, Ruby Versfeld, Esihle Zondo

Men: Manqoba Bungane, Joshua Faber, Todd Howard, Cameron Laurenson, Lwazi Madi, Gareth May, Farouk Mayman, Liam Neill, Matthew Neser, Janco Rademeyer, Ross Stone, Jonathan Swanepoel, Dane Tucker, Sven van Zyl, Niall Wheeler

Photo: World Aquatics

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