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Rising talent recognised

Future stars in the form of KwaZulu-Natal’s Jay-Cee Thompson and Ronwyn Roper plus Western Province’s Jessica Ashleigh Cooper have been selected as part of the SA contingent to compete in the final leg of the FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup in Singapore on 21-22 November.

Thompson, 19, who will race in the 200 and 400 metres freestyle and 200 and 400 metres individual medley events, has adjusted to swimming life in Durban since making the move from Johannesburg 18 months ago. At 1.90 metres tall, Thompson’s height is a major factor in why he favours the short-ourse swimming scene over the 50 metres Olympic distance version.

At the opening leg of the FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup held in Durban earlier this month, Thompson made it on to the medal podium in collecting silver (400m freestyle) and bronze (400m individual medley).

Roper, 22, took gold in the 50 and 100m breaststroke as well as silver in the 200m breaststroke, at the Telkom SA Short-Course Championships held in Pietermaritzburg in August. She will be competing in the 50 and 100m freestyle, 50, 100 and 200m breaststroke, 50m butterfly and 200m individual medley races in Singapore.

Rustenburg Girls High grade 11 pupil Cooper, 17, who also has national age group colours in biathlon, has excelled domestically in the backstroke discipline, and will travel to Singapore to compete in the 50, 100 and 200 metres backstroke, as well as the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly.

The young swimmers will be a part of a powerful SA line up that includes the likes of world record-holders in Cameron van der Burgh (50 and 100m breaststroke) and Roland Schoeman (50m freestyle), plus Darian Townsend gold in the 200m individual medley and silver in the 100m individual medley in the opening leg of the circuit in Durban.

Lyndon Ferns (silver in the 100m butterfly and bronze in the 100m freestyle and 50m butterfly races in Durban) and Kathryn Meaklim (gold in the 800m freestyle and 400m individual medley, as well as silver in the 200m individual medley and bronze in the 200m butterfly in Durban) add further experience and class to the line up.

Van der Burgh topped the men’s points standings after last year’s FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup to collect US$100 000 in prize money, while Meaklim took home US$30 000 after ending third on the women’s standings.

Other additions to the SA team that will do duty in the FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup legs in Moscow, Russia (November 6-7), Stockholm, Sweden (November 10-11), Berlin, Germany (November 14-15), are the young, but more experienced Durban pair of Wesley Gilchrist (100 and 200m butterfly, 100 and 200m individual medley and 50m freestyle) and Riaan Schoeman (400 and 1500m freestyle and 200 and 400m individual medley).

In announcing the swimmers to compete in Singapore, Swimming SA CEO Shaun Adriaanse said: ÔÇ£As I wish the swimmers the best of luck for the FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup leg in Singapore, it is pleasing to see young talent such as Thompson, Roper and Cooper getting the opportunity to swim at the highest level abroad, since this experience will stand them in good stead as far as their competitive international swimming careers is concerned.ÔÇØ┬á

SASCOC president Gideon Sam also added his wishes: ÔÇ£It is imperative that our swimmers take part in as many international competitions as possible, especially the youngsters who will be in contention for the 2012 Olympic team. The more international competition they have now, the better they will be prepared for the big stage.ÔÇØ